페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

the present constitution.* According of rights. For in an action,* tried at
to the well known maxim of civil law, Middlesex in 1796; the chief justice
'the child born of a female slave was in charging the jury, stated as the
held to be the property of her mas unanimous opinion of the court, that
ter, Yet, as the number of slaves in a negro born in the state before the
the state was never large, it is proba- | adoption of the present constitution,
ble the practice of holding them, was was born free, although the mother
never popular. Several negroes, born was a slave. It is certain, however,
in the country of imported slaves, de that the common usage had been op-
manded their freedom of their masters posed to this opinion.t
by suits at law, and obtained it by It is observable that the constitu-
a judgment of court. In these cases, tional article upon which the extinc-
bowever, the defence of the master is tion of slavery in the state of Massa-
said to have been but faintly made; chusetts was founded, is nothing more
and probably a previous understand than the echo and amplification of a
ing between the parties existed: for part of the celebrated declaration of
such was the temper of the times, independence. The same article, al.
that a discontented slave was of little most word for word, is contained in
value; and when freedom was obtain the bill of rights connected with the
ed by a legal process, the master was constitutions of Pennsylvania and
not held responsible for the support | New Hampshire, the former of which
of the slave, in case he became poor. was adopted in 1790, and the latter in

But, in the first action involving the 1792.
right of the master, which came be In Pennsylvania very considerable
fore the Supreme Judicial Court, af efforts were made to bring the con-
ter the adoption of the constitution, stitutional existence of slavery before
the judges declared that, by virtue of the legal tribunals of the state, but no
the first article of the declaration of decision of the question was ever ob-
rights, slavery no longer existed in the tained. The question here is now of
state.f The principle adopted in this no great practical importance, as sla-
case, appears to have been, that the

very is fast melting away, under the right of a reputed slave, to his per operation of acknowledged laws: and sonal freedom, was not created, but in a few years must totally disappear. merely recognised by the declaration In New Hampshire, I understand a de

• The constitution of Massachusetts was agreed upon in “convention, begun on the 1st of September, 1779, and continued by adjournments to the 2d of March, 1780. One day after the passage of the Pennsylvania law.

+ The article alluded to is the fol. lowing: “All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; in

[blocks in formation]

cision, similar to that in Massachusetts, put an end to slavery in the state. At what period this decision took place, I am not informed; but find that in 1810, no slaves were reported.

In the state of Vermont, an article similar to that contained in the Massachusetts declaration of rights, was prefixed to the state constitution established in 1793; yet there the construction of this article, as far as slaves were concerned, was not left to the courts of law, but set down in unequivocal terms as the necessary reBult of the principles assumed.* Slavery could, therefore, no longer exist in that state; and indeed, the number previously held was so small as to presept no obstacle to an instantaneous emancipation of them.

The legislature of Rhode Island, in the year 1784, enacted, that no person born in that state on or after the 1st day of March of that year, should be deemed a slave, but that all servi. tude for life, or slavery of children, to be born as aforesaid, in consequence of the condition of their mothers, should be taken away and for

ever abolished. Children thus born were to be maintained till they should attain the age of twenty-one years, at the expense of the owners of their mothers, provided the mothers, durring that time, continued to be held in slavery.

By previous acts, slaves brought into the state were declared free, And any attempt on the part of a master, to transport his slaves beyond the limits of the state, was punished with a forfeiture of his claim; and the slave thus removed or attempted to be removed became free,*

In the state of Connecticut, slavery was never expressly and directly authorized by statute, but was tolerated in practice; and the numerous laws enacted for the regulation of slaves may be considered as indirectly establishing the legal right to hold them. In the year 1784, a law was passed, prohibiting the introduction of slaves into the state: and likewise an act, declaring that all children, born of slaves, after the 1st of March in the then current year, should be free upon their attaining the age of twenty-five years.

By subsequent acts, the removal of slaves beyond the bounds of the state, was prohibited; and penalties annexed to the crime of kidnapping free persons of colour, or those entitled to freedom at the age of twenty-five years.

Next on the list is the state of New York. In the year 1799,+ a law was

Laws of Rhode Island, published by authority, p. 442.

+ Swift's System of the Laws of Connecticut, Vol. 2, p. 348.

# A law of 1786, manumitted a number of slaves who had escheated to the state by the attainder or conviction of their holders.

The first article of the Vermont declaration of rights is, “That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which, are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety: therefore, no male person, born in this country or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law to serve any person as a servant, slave, or apprentice, after he arrives to the age of twenty-one years, nor female, in like manner, after she arrives at the age of eighteen years, unless they are bound by their own consent after they arrive to such age, or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.

VOL. 1.23

passed, that children born of slaves, such as were brought in, contrary to after the 4th of July of that year, the intention of the act, were de. should be servants to the legal proprio clared free. To prevent the evasion etors of the mother, males until twen. of the act, it was declared, that no inty-eight, and females until twenty-five denture or contract for personal seryears of age. Every such child was vice, made by a person who had been required to be registered within nine held as a slave, out of the state, should months from its birth, in the office of be obligatory within the state, but the the clerk of the city or town where same was declared void; and every born. The person entitled to the ser- || such indenture or contract made since vice of such child, might within one || 30th of March, 1810, was also void; year from its birth, abandon his claim; and the person so held and bound was in which case the child was to be bound declared free. out as other paupers. A law dated

Any person convicted of the forci. 31st of March, 1817, directs, that child

ble confinement of a negro, mulatto, ren born of slaves after the passing of

or mustee, with intent to cause his rethat act, should be held, as servants

moval beyond the limits of the state, to the owner of the mother, until the

to be held as a slave, is subjected to a age of twenty-one years, and no long

fine not exceeding one thousand doler. Persons entitled to the services

lars, and to imprisonment at hard laof such children, were required, pre

bour for a term not longer than fourvious to their attaining the age of

teen years. eighteen years, to cause them to be

Every negro, mulatto, or mustee, taught to read, so as to be able to read the Holy Scriptures, or to give

within the state, born before the 4th

of July, 1799, was declared free from them, between the ages of ten and

and after the 4th of July, 1827.* eighteen years, four quarters schooling: upon neglect of this education, the claim to service was to cease at * This provision, if it related to any the age of eighteen, and the youths

species of property except slaves,

could not be supported on constituwhose services were thus forfeited, to

tional grounds. In 1799, the slaves be immediately bound as apprentices were considered as the property of by the overseers of the poor.

their holders; and if those holders, 'Any person coming into the state,

were then possessed of vested rights

in the bones and sinews of other men, with intent to reside permanently it would appear too clear to require therein, was permitted to bring any discussion, that they could not on any slave born since the 4th of July, 1799;

acknowledged principle of law, be

divested of those rights, without adesuch slave to be held as a servant, if a

quate compensation. But slavery is male, to the age of twenty-eight, or if a peculiar case. The principles on a female, to that of twenty-five years.

which slaves are held, and the nature Reasonable means were to be used to

of the right possessed by their hold

ers, compose an important part of the teach such servants to read, if under subject. In a state of nature all men the age of twenty-one years.

are free and independent. The world No slave to be brought into the

is open alike to all the children of men.

The only property which man, in his state, and held as such, (except under

native state, can claim as exclusively the limitations above stated,) and all his own, is his own person. Conse

The state of New Jersey is the last peared in its most repulsive garb. which has joined the society of non. The slaves have generally been treatslaveholding states. Though the

ed with lenity, and their wants com. slaves have generally borne a greater || fortably supplied. This may be asratio to the white population in New signed as a probable cause of the tarJersey, than in any other north of De. diness of her movements in the abolilaware, yet slavery has not there ap

tion of slavery.

In 1786, a law was enacted, imposquently, the produce of his labour || ing a penalty of £50 ($133,) for is exclusively his; but the earth and its spontaneous productions, are goods bringing into the state any slave imin common. This common property ported from Africa since 1776. A penwhen improved and adapted to the alty of £20 was imposed upon any peruses of man, by the application of la

son, except an emigrant settling in the bour, becomes blended with the labour itself, and to secure the latter to

state, who should bring in a slave, its rightful proprietor, the former though such slave had not been immust be appropriated: hence this com

ported since 1776. mon property comes to be held in se

A law of 1788, provides that no veralty. Thus the right of private property results from a natural and

slave who had resided one year last unalienable right to our own intellec- || past in the state, should be removed tual and physical powers. In a state of society, a part of our natural rights place of abode, without legal consent,

out of it, with a view of changing his is given up for the sake of more effectually securing the rest. Or more under a penalty of £20; except that properly our natural rights are partly

persons permanently removing from retained, and partly thrown into common stock. Allegiance and protection

the state had liberty to take their are the price of each other. The au

slaves with them. Masters and misthority of governments is derived from

tresses of negro and mulatto slaves the consent, express or implied, of the

and servants, were enjoined to teach governed. Hence all who are bound

them to read while under twenty-one by the laws, are equally entitled to the protection of law. Slavery is a years

of

age; under a penalty of £5, forced and unnatural state. As far as

for neglect or refusal.* Some further it is a legal institution at all, it is

melioration of the laws respecting plainly an usurpation, not an exercise of legal authority. It depends upon

slaves was made in 1798, and an no principle of right, but is the crea

emancipating clause, in the act of that tion, or rather the spurious offspring

year, was lost in the house of assemof law. A legislative enactment, declaring the protection of law with | bly by a single vote.t drawn from the holders of a species At length an act, dated February of property, which was originally ren

15th, 1804, was procured for the gradered such, by an act of usurpation, is therefore, in reality, a repeal of

dual abolition of slavery; which prothose laws which had grown up, in the vides that every child born of a slave shape of statutes or usages, amidst violence and wrong, and in total repugnance to the principles of just legisla By act of 1798, this penalty was tion. And surely no constitutional ob raised to one hundred and forty doljection can be raised to the repeal of lars; applying the requisition to childa law, how long soever it had existed, ren born after the 26th of November which had no foundation in justice, 1788. and which no legislature was compe † Minutes of the convention of detent to enact.

legates from Abolition Societies, 1798.

*

than that our slave burthened breth, ren of the south may, by the adoption of prudent and equitable measures, be speedily placed in the same enviable situation.

within the state after the 4th of July, then next ensuing, should be free; but remain as a servant to the owner of the mother, and the executors, &c. of such owner, if a male until the age of twenty-five years; and if a female, until the age of twenty-one years.

All the children so born to be recorded, within nine months after birth, in the books of the clerk of the county. Persons entitled to the service of such children, may at the end of the first year abandon their right; in which case the children are to be bound out, by the overseers of the poor till they attain the ages of twenty-five or twenty-one years, according as they are males or females respectively.

In 1818, a law was enacted, which provides, that no negro or other slave, or servant of colour, for life or years, should thereafter be removed out of the state, except in certain specified

The penalty for the violation of the law, was a fine of not less than one thousand, nor more than two thousand dollars, or imprisonment, at hard labour, for a term of not less than two years, nor more than four years, or both, at the discretion of the court. Slaves exported, or attempted to be exported, or sold, or transferred for the purpose of exportation, were declared free. The laws for the abo: lition or melioration of slavery were revised and consolidated in 1820.

Thus the fabric of negro slavery, the work of ages, has during the last half century, been gradually crumbling away. We have now the consolation of certainly knowing, that this evil will not, in the eastern or middle states, be entailed on posterity, but must inevitably expire with the present generation. The philanthropist can hardly breathe a more ardent wish

cases,

SLAVE TRADE IN EASTERN AFRICA.

I calculate the number of slaves sold annually in the market of Shendy, at about five thousand, of whom about two thousand five hundred are carried off by the Souakin merchants, and fifteen hundred by those of Egypt; the remainder go to Dongola, and to the Bedouins who live to the east of Shendy, towards the Albara and the Red Sea.

The slaves brought from Kordofan to Darfour, are, for the greater part, from the idolatrous countries of Benda, Baadja, Fetigo, and Fertit, to the south and southwest of Darfour, from twenty to forty days from Kobbe; each of these countries speaks a separate language. The Darfour mer. chants trade with Fertit, which lies about twenty days from Kobbe, in a southerly direction; the country is mountainous, and the inhabitants are wholly ignorant of agriculture; but they have tasted the luxury of Dhourra and Dokhen, and are said, in cases of a dearth of these grains, to sell their own children to procure them.

Far the largest proportion of the slaves imported into Shendy are below the age

of fifteen. All of them, both male and female, are divided by the traders, with reference to age, into three classes, namely: Khomasy, comprising those apparently below ten or eleven years; Sedasy, those above eleven and below fourteen or fifteen; and Balegh, or grown up, those of fif. teen or upwards. The Sedasy are the most esteemed. When I was at Shendy, a male of this class was worth fifteen or sixteen dollars, provided he bore the marks of the small pox, without which a boy is not worth more than two thirds of that price; a female was worth from twenty to twen. ty-five Spanish dollars. The price of the male Khomasy was twelve; of the female fifteen dollars. The male Ba. legh seldom sells for more than eight

« 이전계속 »