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fifty, should be designated, when it was decreed that they must be individually identified, and not selected by lot. The attempts to identify the slaves originally shipped on board the Antelope, were successful only as far as thirtynine individuals. The proof, such as it was, to this number, was subjected to the examination of the supreme court, within the last year, and finally settled. The thirty-nine there identified were decreed to the Spanish claimants. The rest were delivered to the marshal, to be placed at the disposal of the president.*
The subjoined notice of them is contained in the report from the navy department accompanying the president's message to congress, at the opening of the present session.
or General Ramirez, together with a number of Africans on board, were captured by a revenue officer of the United States, and brought into the port of Savanna for adjudication. The vessel and cargo being libelled, were claimed in behalf of Spanish and Portuguese owners, by the consuls of their respective nations, and such proceedings had, that a large number of Africans were ultimately adjudged to the United States, to be disposed of according to law, as may be seen by the record of the case in the supreme court remaining, and the report thereof, in the 10th, 11th, and 12th vols. of Wheaton's Reports.
“ But it also appears thereby, that thirty-nine of the Africans therein mentioned were finally decreed to be slaves, the property of the Spanish claimants, piratically taken from them on the high seas, by a pretended South American privateer, and as such ordered to be restored to them, they paying salvage to captain Jackson, of fifty dollars per head, the charges of the marshal for the maintenance, clothing, safe keeping, &c. of the Africans, amounting to six thousand three hundred and forty-seven dollars, the costs of court and bills of proctors in the cause, amounting to moreover, giving bond with security, to export the said negroes out of the United States.
" That the said Africans having been in the state of Georgia, under the charge of the marshal of that district, by order of the United States' circuit court, for more than eight years, have formed connections by marriage, and many of them have children, from whom, if sent out of the country, they must be separated, as their wives and children are the property of other persons than the Spanish claimants.
" That, in November, 1827, an agent from the Spanish owners,' Cuesta, Manzanal & Brother, arrived in Savanna, bearing full powers, to a respectable merchant of that city, to receive the said slaves for the said owners, pursuant to the decree, paying the charges and giving the bonds afo said, and immediately to transport them to the island of Cuba, the agent being authorized to engage a vessel for that purpose.
During the past summer, 142 were sent from Savanna to the agency. They were brought into Georgia, in the year 1820, in the General Ramirez: and have been, from that time to the last spring, in a course of litigation, and at a great expense to the government. As soon as the department was authorized to take charge of and remove them, measures were taken for that purpose. They were received at the agency, and disposed of in such way, that they will occasion very little expense for the first six months, and none afterwards.
The petition presented to congress is as follows. " To the Honourable the Senate and
House of Representatives of the United
" The petition of Richard H. Wilde humbly showeth
o That a vessel called the Antelope,
* This account was made up from some papers lodged in the office of the navy department at Washington, and the reports of the cases in Wheaton, vol. x. xi, and xii.
the supreme court, your petitioner humbly inquires, can it be important to the United States that their captivity should be embittered as much as possible by removal to a strange land, a separation from their wives and children, harder labour, and more cruel treatment?
“ Since the owners of the wives and children will not sell them into Spanish bondage, even were your petitioner able to purchase and capable of purchasing them for such an object, (which he is not,) the separation of the husband from the wife, and the parent from the child, becomes inevitable, unless this bond shall be cancelled.
For the sake of these poor creatures, and in the name of humanity, your petitioner humbly prays it may be cancelled. “ And your petitioner will ever pray. " RICHARD HENRY WILDE.”
“ Your petitioner, then in Savanna, being apprised of the repugnance of these people to depart from a country, to the language and habits of which they were accustomed; where easy labour was imposed, and kind treatment received, and struck with the cruelty of separating them from their wives and children, to send them into slavery in a Spanish colony, resolved, if possible, though with some risk and trouble to himself, to afford them the chance of becoming free, or, at least, of suffering servitude only in that mitigated form already familiar to them, in a state of society to which they had become reconciled, and in the bosom of their families.
" For this purpose he became the purchaser of the Spanish interest, satisfied the marshal's bill, and all other legal charges, as will appear by the proper vouchers, and entered into the necessary bonds, to transport them out of the United States within the time limited.
“ He has since, in order that they might be sent as free men to Liberia, made an offer of the said Africans, to the Colonization Society, for the money actually paid by him to the Spanish owners, and the charges aforesaid, as taxed by the circuit court, without interest, or any addition whatever, for the trouble and expenses of your petitioner incurred in their behalf.
" This offer the society have not accepted.
“In order to avoid seeing this unhappy people exported immediately, your petitioner, as before stated, has been obliged to give security that they shall be sent out of the United States within a specified time. The condition of his bond he must and will perform, however painful to himself, if congress decline to interfere.
" It is impossible to evade performance, and if it were possible, he is incapable of attempting it. If the bond can be cancelled, he proposes, by purchase or exchange, without a view to profit, to unite the families; and afterwards to settle them, within the territories of the Uuited States, that they will be secure of as much kindness and indulgence as the condition of slavery allows.
“ If they must continue slaves, as it is decreed by the definite sentence of
The history of these untutored strangers is in part before the public, but probably the most pathetic portion of this tale of woe, is covered with the mantle of oblivion. They have none to portray the scenes through which they probably passed on their native shore. The terrors of the midnight . attack, the flames of the burning village, the flight of the mother with the infant on her back, the desperate the sanguinary conflict, the bleeding victims, the anguish of despair, the long and toilsome journey to the distant coast, the ravings of despair when the land of their birth sunk in the distant horizon, the noisome floating dungeon, may all be distinctly imagined, for these are the usual concomitants of this murderous traffic,
But adverting to what we actually know of their calamitous adventures, we have enough to awaken a lively sympathy, if that feeling was not blunted by the reflection that its objects are covered with a skin not coloured like
our own. We find them on board a slave vessel, the horrors of which are too well known to need description; there they were captured by pirates, carried from place to place, their captors hovering, probably for months, on the shores of the two Americas, in search of an opportunity to dispose of the living cargo, till at length they were landed on the shores of the Uni. ted States. Oftwo hundred and eighty who survived the horrors of this floating captivity, one hundred and fiftyeight have experienced the protection of our laws, and been reshipped to their native land. Thirty-nine, the only remaining survivors, now await the decision of congress. A benevolent citizen of Georgia, has interfered to rescue this poor remnant of a numerous band, from a second transportation in the holds of a slave ship, and offers to restore them to freedom and their country, upon a mere repayment of his actual disbursements. Large appropriations have been made for the abolition of the African slave trade; why may not congress add another twig to the laurel, by sending this feeble company to join their liberated companions on their natal coasts? Their case differs from that of their more fortunate companions, in nothing which can soften their lot, or lighten to them the burden of slavery.
station among the nations of the world, as to attempt a vindication of slavery, even on the floor of that capitol which is loudly proclaimed to be sacred to liberty. I had supposed that our brethren of the south were willing to acknowledge, that slavery is a moral and political evil. That being entailed upon them by their ancestors, the difficulty of its extinction, and the dangers attendant upon every extensive and radical change in the existing order, must be relied upon as their excuse for its continuance.
Every person, of sober reflection, who is even partially acquainted with the situation of the slave-holding states, must be aware that the work of emancipation is one of great and appalling magnitude. The man of liberal feelings will make large allowances for the tardy and reluctant movements of the south, in this momentous work. But when we find this system elaborately defended, and the sacred volume pressed into the defence, not by an obscure individual, but by the representative of a free people, and in the hall of our national government, we may well blush for our country, and inquire, what is the tenure by which our own boasted liberties are held ?
Considering the publicity of the defence, rather than the force of the arguments, it appears to be entirely within the plan of this journal, to follow the speaker, and expose his fallacies.
The orator commences with the sweeping declaration, “that slavery, the right of property in the human family, by purchase with your money, to be held and transferred in perpetuity to posterity, had been recognised by the Almighty himself, to the fullest
extent, under every dispensation which he has condescended, in mercy, to extend to man.”
Previously to an examination how far the sacred volume can be made, by any latitude of construction, to sustain this position, it will not be impertinent to inquire, whether such a doctrine does not stamp a greater stigma upon the character of a benevolent Creator than the boldest atheist has ever attempted? And whether such an inference, if fairly deduced from Scripture testimony, would not do more to prostrate the reputation of those invaluable writings, than all the perverted ingenuity of the enemies of religion, from the days of Sanballat to the present time? What a powerful argument, in the hands of a Volney or Paine, would it be against the authenticity of Scripture, if it could be shown that slavery was recognised there in its fullest extent. But what are the proofs?
The first Scripture argument is drawn from the circumstance related in the ninth chapter of Genesis, of the undutiful conduct of Ham. This argument is so old, that I know not by whom it was first advanced, and so weak that I wonder it was ever advanced at all. Allowing to that indelicate act, all the criminality that either Scripture or reason can attach to it, I would submit to any rational mind, whether a temporary confinement, of the offender himself, in the penitentiary, would not be as ample a punishment as modern justice could wish to dispense? But we may observe, that the curse, whatever its meaning or force may have been, was denounced upon Canaan, the father of the race whom the people of Israel partially dispossessed of their lands, and reduced to a national not a per
sonal bondage.* Here we find the prediction of Noah sufficiently verified; yet we are not to forget, that it was not the prediction, but the special command of the Almighty, that warranted the Israelites in executing the decree. To deduce, from this portion of Scripture, a valid argument for the slavery of the negroes, several difficult questions must be satisfactorily solved. We must prove that the declaration of Noah was a denunciation, and not merely a prediction; that the curse of slavery was affixed, not merely to Ham or Canaan personally, but to their posterity for at least an hundred generations; and having fairly established these points, we must then prove, that the negroes are the posterity of Ham, or rather of Canaan, and that our own ancestry was not drawn from the same polluted stock. I am well aware of the notion so implicitly received, that the three sons of Noah were put into possession, by their father's will, or their own choice, of the three quarters of the old world, and that Africa was allotted to Ham. But I venture to assert that it is totally destitute of historical support. Indeed, the contrary is clearly established by the only authentic history which approaches, by several generations, to that interesting period. We may as rationally suppose that the inhabitants of western Europe, and consequently of the United States, are descended from Ham, as from either of his brothers. Indeed, the most probable supposition is, that we partake of the blood of them all. It is not likely that the grandsons of Noah always married their sisters ; no doubt the cousins
* Joshua xvi. 10. xvii. 12, 13. Judges i. 28, 29, 30.
would sometimes be preferred. When his possessions against the incursions the children of Israel drove the inha of the neighbouring tribes. The serbitants of Palestine, the descendants vants spoken of in a subsequent verse, of Ham, out of their land, may we not were evidently those who served unsafely conclude that some of them der him in that expedition, including would make their way to the west Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, with their along the northern shores of the Me forces, who were confederate with diterranean, and gradually spread into Abram, and composed a part of his Europe?
army. But could it be demonstrated that In the next place, the only inference the negroes are the posterity of Ham, in relation to the condition of these and that we are descended from Ja servants, which can be drawn from the pheth or Shem, we should still want a narrative, is, that their service was warrant for the infliction of the punish voluntary, and not constrained. They ment denounced upon the race. The were instructed in the use of arms, and denunciation of the prophet against | led out to battle by the patriarch himEli's house, was not a warrant to every self. The government was patriarchal, infuriated ruffian to butcher his sons. not national; the power of constraint
Our orator next adverts to the case of was within the family, and not supthe patriarch Abraham, whom he gra ported by national force. It was not tuitously claims as a slave holder. The then consistent with the condition of three hundred and eighteen trained the patriarch, or the nature of the case, servants, whom he armed to pursue that those who held the sword should the plunderers of Sodom, are consi be slaves. dered as slaves; and as the Almighty An argument something more plausicondescended to bless the master, it is ble, is drawn from the injunction laid gravely concluded, that the act of hold
upon Abraham, that “ he that is born ing these men in that condition, was in thy house, or bought with thy money, consistent with the divine will; and must needs be circumcised.” Hence hence the more sweeping conclusion slavery, we are to believe, was clearly seems to be drawn, not very logically tolerated by the Almighty himself, not it is true, that the slavery now prac merely in the persons thus purchased, tised among us, must be right. To but in their posterity for ever. “My this inference I must be permitted to covenant shall be in your flésh, for an demur.
everlasting covenant.” How this proves In the first place, we have no testi the perpetuity of slavery, I am unable mony that this band was composed of to perceive. I apprehend a modern slaves, or even of servants ; for in the Jew, who should insist that the pracHebrew, the noun to which the adjec tice of circumcision was never to be tive trained or instructed relates, is dispensed with, would have greatly not expressed, and must therefore be
the advantage of the argument in a supplied by conjecture. We may sup contest with a slave holder, if this pose, if we will, that they were a passage is to be taken as the text. military corps, instructed in the use of I wish to speak with reverence of arms, and kept under pay, for the pur sacred things, and not needlessly enpose of defending the patriarch and gage in discussions of a theological