George W. Williams.

History of the Negro Race in America From 1619 to 1880. Vol 1 Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens online

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free everywhere; but the republic of Liberia stands, and should stand
until its light shall have penetrated the gloom of Africa, and until
the heathen shall gather to the brightness of its shining. May it
stand through the ages as a Christian Republic, as a faithful
light-house along the dark and trackless sea of African paganism!


FOOTNOTES:

[106] Ethiope, p. 197.

[107] Foreign Travel and Life at Sea, vol. ii. p. 359.

[108] Bishop Scott's Letter in the Colonization Herald, October, 1853.

[109] In Methodist Missionary Advocate, 1853.

[110] Gammell's History of the American Baptist Missions, pp. 248,
249.

[111] Edward W. Blyden, L.L.D., president of Liberia College, a West
Indian, is a scholar of marvellous erudition, a writer of rare
abilities, a subtle reasoner, a preacher of charming graces, and one
of the foremost Negroes of the world. He is himself the best argument
in favor of the Negro's capacity for Christian civilization. He ranks
amongst the world's greatest linguists.

[112] Report of Bishop Payne, June 6, 1853.

[113] Colonization Herald, December, 1852.

[114] Ethiope, pp. 207, 208.




CHAPTER XI.

RÉSUMÉ.

THE UNITY OF THE HUMAN FAMILY RE-AFFIRMED. - GOD GAVE ALL
RACES OF MEN CIVILIZATION. - THE ANTIQUITY OF THE NEGRO
BEYOND DISPUTE. - IDOLATRY THE CAUSE OF THE DEGRADATION OF
THE AMERICAN RACES. - HE HAS ALWAYS HAD A PLACE IN HISTORY,
THOUGH INCIDENTAL. - NEGRO TYPE CAUSED BY DEGRADATION. - NEGRO
EMPIRES AN EVIDENCE OF CRUDE ABILITY FOR SELF-GOVERNMENT. - INFLUENCE
OF THE TWO CHRISTIAN GOVERNMENTS ON THE WEST COAST UPON THE
HEATHEN. - ORATION ON EARLY CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA. - THE DUTY OF
CHRISTIANITY TO EVANGELIZE AFRICA.


The preceding ten chapters are introductory in their nature. We felt
that they were necessary to a history of the Colored race in the
United States. We desired to explain and explode two erroneous
ideas, - the curse of Canaan, and the theory that the Negro is a
distinct species, - that were educated into our white countrymen during
the long and starless night of the bondage of the Negro. It must
appear patent to every honest student of God's word, that the slavery
interpretation of the curse of Canaan is without warrant of Scripture,
and at war with the broad and catholic teachings of the New Testament.
It is a sad commentary on American civilization to find even a few men
like Helper, "Ariel," and the author of "The Adamic Race" still
croaking about the inferiority of the Negro; but it is highly
gratifying to know that they no longer find an audience or readers,
not even in the South. A man never hates his neighbors until he has
injured them. Then, in justification of his unjustifiable conduct, he
uses slander for argument.

During the late war thousands of mouths filled with vituperative wrath
against the colored race were silenced as in the presence of the
heroic deeds of "the despised race," and since the war the obloquy of
the Negro's enemies has been turned into the most fulsome praise.

We stand in line and are in harmony with history and historians
- modern and ancient, sacred and profane - on the subject of the unity
of the human family. There are, however, a few who differ; but their
wild, incoherent, and unscholarly theories deserve the mercy of our
silence.

It is our firm conviction, and it is not wholly unsupported by
history, that the Creator gave all the nations arts and sciences.
Where nations have turned aside to idolatry they have lost their
civilization. The Canaanites, Jebusites, Hivites, etc., the
idolatrous[115] nations inhabiting the land of Canaan, were the
descendants of Canaan; and the only charge the Lord brought against
them when he commanded Joshua to exterminate them was, that they were
his enemies[116] in all that that term implies. The sacred record
tells us that they were a warlike, powerful people,[117] living in
walled cities, given to agriculture, and possessing quite a
respectable civilization; but they were idolaters - God's enemies.

It is worthy of emphasis, that the antiquity of the Negro race is
beyond dispute. This is a fact established by the most immutable
historical data, and recorded on the monumental brass and marble of
the Oriental nations of the most remote period of time. The importance
and worth of the Negro have given him a place in all the histories of
Egypt, Greece, and Rome. His position, it is true, in all history up
to the present day, has been accidental, incidental, and collateral;
but it is sufficient to show how he has been regarded in the past by
other nations. His brightest days were when history was an infant;
and, since he early turned from God, he has found the cold face of
hate and the hurtful hand of the Caucasian against him. The Negro type
is the result of degradation. It is nothing more than the lowest
strata of the African race. Pouring over the venerable mountain
terraces, an abundant stream from an abundant and unknown source, into
the malarial districts, the genuine African has gradually degenerated
into the typical Negro. His blood infected with the poison of his low
habitation, his body shrivelled by disease, his intellect veiled in
pagan superstitions, the noblest yearnings of his soul strangled at
birth by the savage passions of a nature abandoned to sensuality, - the
poor Negro of Africa deserves more our pity than our contempt.

It is true that the weaker tribes, or many of the Negroid type, were
the chief source of supply for the slave-market in this country for
many years; but slavery in the United States - a severe ordeal through
which to pass to citizenship and civilization - had the effect of
calling into life many a slumbering and dying attribute in the Negro
nature. The cruel institution drove him from an extreme idolatry to an
extreme religious exercise of his faith in worship. And now that he is
an American citizen, - the condition and circumstances which rendered
his piety appropriate abolished, - he is likely to move over to an
extreme rationalism.

The Negro empires to which we have called attention are an argument
against the theory that he is without government, and his career as a
soldier[118] would not disgrace the uniform of an American soldier.
Brave, swift in execution, terrible in the onslaught, tireless in
energy, obedient to superiors, and clannish to a fault, - the abilities
of these black soldiers are worthy of a good cause.

On the edge of the Dark Continent, Sierra Leone and Liberia have
sprung up as light-houses on a dark and stormy ocean of lost humanity.
Hundreds of thousands of degraded Negroes have been snatched from the
vile swamps, and Christianity has been received and appreciated by
them. These two Negro settlements have solved two problems; viz., the
Negro's ability to administer a government, and the capacity of the
native for the reception of education and Christian civilization. San
Domingo and Jamaica have their lessons too, but it is not our purpose
to write the history of the Colored people of the world. The task may
be undertaken some time in the future, however.

It must be apparent to the interested friends of languishing Africa,
that there are yet two more problems presented for our solution; and
they are certainly difficult of solution. First, we must solve the
problem of African geography; second, we must redeem by the power of
the gospel, with all its attending blessings, the savage tribes of
Africans who have never heard the beautiful song of the angels:
"_Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward
men_." That this work will be done we do not doubt. We have great
faith in the outcome of the missionary work going on now in Africa;
and we are especially encouraged by the wide and kindly interest
awakened on behalf of Africa by the noble life-work of Dr. David
Livingstone, and the thrilling narrative of Mr. Henry M. Stanley.

It is rather remarkable now, in the light of recent events, that we
should have chosen a topic at the close of both our academic and
theological course that we can see now was in line with this work so
near our heart. The first oration was on "The Footsteps of the
Nation," the second was "Early Christianity in Africa." Dr.
Livingstone had just fallen a martyr to the cause of geography, and
the orators and preachers of enlightened Christendom were busy with
the virtues and worth of the dead. It was on the tenth day of June,
1874, that we delivered the last-named oration; and we can, even at
this distance, recall the magnificent audience that greeted it, and
the feeling with which we delivered it. We were the first Colored man
who had ever taken a diploma from that venerable and world-famed
institution (Newton Seminary, Newton Centre, Mass.), and therefore
there was much interest taken in our graduation. We were ordained on
the following evening at Watertown, Mass.; and the original poem
written for the occasion by our pastor, the Rev. Granville S. Abbott,
D.D., contained the following significant verses: -

"Ethiopia's hands long stretching,
Mightily have plead with God;
Plead not vainly: time is fetching
Answers, as her faith's reward.
God is faithful,
Yea, and Amen is his word.

Countless prayers, so long ascending,
Have their answer here and now;
Threads of purpose, wisely meeting
In an ordination vow.
Afric brother,
To thy mission humbly bow."

The only, and we trust sufficient, apology we have to offer to the
reader for mentioning matters personal to the author is, that we are
deeply touched in reading the oration, after many years, in the
original manuscript, preserved by accident. It is fitting that it
should be produced here as bearing upon the subject in hand.


EARLY CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA.

ORATION BY GEORGE W. WILLIAMS,

ON THE OCCASION OF HIS GRADUATION FROM NEWTON THEOLOGICAL
SEMINARY, NEWTON CENTRE, MASS., JUNE 10, 1874.

Africa was one of the first countries to receive
Christianity. Simon, a Cyrenian, from Africa, bore the cross
of Jesus for him to Calvary. There was more in that
singular incident than we are apt to recognize, for the time
soon came when Africa did indeed take up the Saviour's
cross.

The African, in his gushing love, welcomed the new religion
to his country and to his heart. He was willing to share its
persecutions, and endure shame for the cross of Christ.

Africa became the arena in which theological gladiators met
in dubious strife. It was the scene of some of the severest
doctrinal controversies of the early Church. Here men and
women, devoted to an idea, stood immovable, indomitable as
the pyramids, against the severest persecution. Her sons
swelled the noble army of martyrs and confessors. The
eloquence of their shed blood has been heard through the
centuries, and pleads the cause of the benighted to-day.

It was Africa that gave the Christian Church Athanasius and
Origen, Cyprian, Tertullian, and Augustine, her greatest
writers and teachers. Athanasius, the missionary of
monachism to the West, was the indefatigable enemy of
Arianism, the bold leader of the Catholic party at
Alexandria, at the early age of thirty (30) elevated to its
bishopric, one of the most important sees in the East. Ever
conscientious and bold, the whole Christian Church felt his
influence, while emperors and kings feared his power. His
life was stormy, because he loved the truth and taught it in
all boldness. He hated his own life for the truth's sake. He
counted all things but loss, that he might gain Christ. He
was often in perils by false brethren, was driven out into
the solitary places of the earth, - into the monasteries of
the Thebaid; and yet he endured as seeing Him who is
invisible, looking for the reward of the promise, knowing
that He who promised is faithful.

Origen was an Alexandrian by birth and culture, an able
preacher, a forcible writer, and a theologian of great
learning. His influence while living was great, and was felt
long after his death.

In North Africa, Cyprian, the great writer of Church polity,
a pastor and teacher of rare gifts, was the first bishop to
lay down his life for the truth's sake. The shadows of
fifteen centuries rest upon his name; but it is as fadeless
to-day as when a weeping multitude followed him to his
martyrdom, and exclaimed, "Let us die with our holy bishop."

The weary centuries intervene, and yet the student of Church
polity is fascinated and instructed by the brilliant
teachings of Cyprian. His bitterest enemies - those who have
most acrimoniously assailed him - have at length recognized
in him the qualities of a great writer and teacher; and his
puissant name, sending its influence along the ages,
attracts the admiration of the ecclesiastical scholars of
every generation.

Tertullian, the leader of the Montanists, fiery, impulsive,
the strong preacher, the vigorous writer, the bold
controversialist, organized a sect which survived him,
though finally disorganized through the influence of
Augustine, the master theologian of the early Church, indeed
of the Church universal.

Other fathers built theological systems that flourished for
a season; but the system that Augustine established survived
him, has survived the intervening centuries, and lives
to-day.

Africa furnished the first dissenters from an established
church, - the Donatists. They were the Separatists and
Puritans of the early Church.

Their struggle was long, severe, but useless. They were
condemned, not convinced; discomfited, not subdued; and the
patient, suffering, indomitable spirit they evinced shows
what power there is in a little truth held in faith.

Christianity had reached its zenith in Africa. It was her
proudest hour. Paganism had been met and conquered. The
Church had passed through a baptism of blood, and was now
wholly consecrated to the cause of its Great Head. Here
Christianity flowered, here it brought forth rich fruit in
the lives of its tenacious adherents. Here the acorn had
become the sturdy oak, under which the soldiers of the cross
pitched their tents. The African Church had triumphed
gloriously.

But, in the moment of signal victory, the Saracens poured
into North Africa, and Mohammedanism was established upon
the ruins of Christianity.

The religion of Christ was swept from its moorings, the
saint was transformed into the child of the desert, and
quiet settlements became bloody fields where brother shed
brother's blood.

Glorious and sublime as was the triumph of Christianity in
North Africa, we must not forget that only a narrow belt of
that vast country, on the Mediterranean, was reached by
Christianity. Its western and southern portions are yet
almost wholly unknown. Her vast deserts, her mighty rivers,
and her dusky children are yet beyond the reach of
civilization; and her forests have been the grave of many
who would explore her interior. To-day England stands by the
new-made grave of the indomitable Livingstone, - her
courageous son, who, as a missionary and geographer spent
his best days and laid down his life in the midst of Africa.

For nearly three centuries Africa has been robbed of her
sable sons. For nearly three centuries they have toiled in
bondage, unrequited, in this youthful republic of the West.
They have grown from a small company to be an exceedingly
great people, - five millions in number. No longer chattels,
they are human beings, no longer bondmen, they are freemen,
with almost every civil disability removed.

Their weary feet now press up the mount of science. Their
darkened intellect now sweeps, unfettered, through the
realms of learning and culture. With his Saxon brother, the
African slakes his insatiable thirstings for knowledge at
the same fountain. In the Bible, he leads not only the one
unalterable text, "Servants, obey your masters," but also,
"Ye are all brethren." "God hath made of one blood all
nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth."
"He is no respecter of persons."

The Negro in this country has begun to enjoy the blessings
of a free citizenship. Under the sunny sky of a Christian
civilization he hears the clarion voices of progress about
him, urging him onward and upward. From across the ocean,
out of the jungles of Africa, come the voices of the
benighted and perishing. Every breeze is freighted with a
Macedonian call, "Ye men of the African race, come over and
help us!"

"Shall we, whose souls are lighted
By wisdom from on high, -
Shall we, to men benighted
The lamp of life deny?"

God often permits evil on the ground of man's free agency,
but he does not commit evil.

The Negro of this country can turn to his Saxon brothers and
say, as Joseph said to his brethren who wickedly sold him,
"As for you, ye meant it unto evil but God meant it unto
good; that we, after learning your arts and sciences, might
return to Egypt and deliver the rest of our brethren who are
yet in the house of bondage."

That day will come! Her chains will be severed by the sword
of civilization and liberty. Science will penetrate her
densest forests, and climb her loftiest mountains, and
discover her richest treasures. The Sun of righteousness,
and the star of peace shall break upon her sin-clouded
vision, and smile upon her renewed households The anthem of
the Redeemer's advent shall float through her forests, and
be echoed by her mountains. Those dusky children of the
desert, who now wander and plunder, will settle to quiet
occupations of industry. Gathering themselves into villages,
plying the labors of handicraft and agriculture, they will
become a well disciplined society, instead of being a
roving, barbarous horde.

The sabbath bells will summon from scattered cottages
smiling populations, linked together by friendship, and
happy in all the sweetness of domestic charities. Thus the
glory of her latter day shall be greater than at the
beginning, _and Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands unto
God_.

It is our earnest desire and prayer, that the friends of missions in
all places where God in his providence may send this history will give
the subject of the civilization and Christianization of Africa
prayerful consideration. The best schools the world can afford should
be founded on the West Coast of Africa The native should be educated
at home, and mission stations should be planted under the very shadow
of the idol-houses of the heathen. The best talent and abundant means
have been sent to Siam, China, and Japan. Why not send the best talent
and needful means to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Cape Palmas, that
native missionaries may be trained for the outposts of the Lord? There
is not a more promising mission-field in the world than Africa, and
yet our friends in America take so little interest in this work! The
Lord is going to save that Dark Continent, and it behooves his
servants here to honor themselves in doing something to hasten the
completion of this inevitable work! Africa is to be redeemed by the
African, and the white Christians of this country can aid the work by
munificent contributions. Will you do it, brethren? God help you!


FOOTNOTES:

[115] Deut. xii. 2, 3, also 30th verse.

[116] Deut. vi. 19.

[117] Deut. vii. 7.

[118] News comes to us from Egypt that Arabi Pacha's best artillerists
are Negro soldiers.




Part II.

_SLAVERY IN THE COLONIES_.[119]




CHAPTER XII.

THE COLONY OF VIRGINIA.

1619-1775.

INTRODUCTION OF THE FIRST SLAVES. - "THE TREASURER" AND THE
DUTCH MAN-OF-WAR. - THE CORRECT DATE. - THE NUMBER OF
SLAVES. - WERE THERE TWENTY, OR FOURTEEN? - LITIGATION ABOUT
THE POSSESSION OF THE SLAVES. - CHARACTER OF THE SLAVES
IMPORTED, AND THE CHARACTER OF THE COLONISTS. - RACE
PREJUDICES. - LEGAL ESTABLISHMENT OF SLAVERY. WHO ARE SLAVES
FOR LIFE. - DUTIES ON IMPORTED SLAVES. - POLITICAL AND
MILITARY PROHIBITIONS AGAINST NEGROES. - PERSONAL
RIGHTS. - CRIMINAL LAWS AGAINST SLAVES. EMANCIPATION. - HOW
BROUGHT ABOUT. - FREE NEGROES. - THEIR RIGHTS. - MORAL AND
RELIGIOUS TRAINING. - POPULATION. - SLAVERY FIRMLY
ESTABLISHED.


Virginia was the mother of slavery as well as "the mother of
Presidents." Unfortunate for her, unfortunate for the other colonies,
and thrice unfortunate for the poor Colored people, who from 1619 to
1863 yielded their liberty, their toil, - unrequited, - their bodies and
intellects to an institution that ground them to powder. No event in
the history of North America has carried with it to its last analysis
such terrible forces. It touched the brightest features of social
life, and they faded under the contact of its poisonous breath. It
affected legislation, local and national; it made and destroyed
statesmen; it prostrated and bullied honest public sentiment; it
strangled the voice of the press, and awed the pulpit into silent
acquiescence; it organized the judiciary of States, and wrote
decisions for judges; it gave States their political being, and
afterwards dragged them by the fore-hair through the stormy sea of
civil war; laid the parricidal fingers of Treason against the fair
throat of Liberty, - and through all time to come no event will be more
sincerely deplored than the introduction of slavery into the colony of
Virginia during the last days of the month of August in the year 1619!

The majority of writers on American history, as well as most histories
on Virginia, from Beverley to Howison, have made a mistake in fixing
the date of the introduction of the first slaves. Mr. Beverley, whose
history of Virginia was printed in London in 1772, is responsible for
the error, in that nearly all subsequent writers - excepting the
laborious and scholarly Bancroft and the erudite Campbell - have
repeated his mistake. Mr. Beverley, speaking of the burgesses having
"met the Governor and Council at James Town in May 1620," adds in a
subsequent paragraph, "In August following a Dutch Man of War landed
twenty Negroes for sale; which were the first of that kind that were
carried into the country."[120] By "August following," we infer that
Beverley would have his readers understand that this was in 1620. But
Burk, Smith, Campbell, and Neill gave 1619 as the date.[121] But we
are persuaded to believe that the first slaves were landed at a still
earlier date. In Capt. John Smith's history, printed in London in
1629, is a mere incidental reference to the introduction of slaves
into Virginia. He mentions, under date of June 25, that the "governor
and councell caused Burgesses to be chosen in all places,"[122] which
is one month later than the occurrence of this event as fixed by
Beverley. Smith speaks of a vessel named "George" as having been "sent
to Newfoundland" for fish, and, having started in May, returned after
a voyage of "seven weeks." In the next sentence he says, "About the
last of August came in a dutch man of warre that sold us twenty
Negars."[123] Might not he have meant "about the end of last August"
came the Dutch man-of-war, etc.? All historians, except two, agree
that these slaves were landed in August, but disagree as to the year.
Capt. Argall, of whom so much complaint was made by the Virginia
Company to Lord Delaware,[124] fitted out the ship "Treasurer" at the
expense of the Earl of Warwick, who sent him "an olde commission of
hostility from the Duke of Savoy against the Spanyards," for a
"filibustering" cruise to the West Indies.[125] And, "after several
acts of hostility committed, and some purchase gotten, she returns to
Virginia at the end of ten months or thereabouts."[126] It was in the
early autumn of 1618,[127] that Capt. Edward (a son of William)
Brewster was sent into banishment by Capt. Argall; and this, we think,
was one of the last, if not _the_ last official act of that arbitrary



Online LibraryGeorge W. WilliamsHistory of the Negro Race in America From 1619 to 1880. Vol 1 Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens → online text (page 14 of 57)