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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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 25 of 57)
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Discourse concerning the Utility and Conveniency to keep the
one, and inconveniency of the other; respecting white and
black Servants, which conduceth most to the welfare and
benefit of this Province: which he concludes to be white
men, who are in many respects to be preferred before Blacks;
who doubts that? doth it therefore follow, that it is
altogether unlawful for Christians to buy and keep Negro
Servants (for this is the thesis) but that those that have
them ought in Conscience to set them free, and so lose all
the money they cost (for we must not live in any known sin)
this seems to be his opinion; but it is a Question whether
it ever was the Gentleman's practice? But if he could
perswade the General Assembly to make an Act, That all that
have Negroes, and do set them free, shall be Reimbursed out
of the Publick Treasury, and that there shall be no more
Negroes brought into the country; 'tis probable there would
be more of his opinion; yet he would find it a hard task to
bring the Country to consent thereto; for then the Negroes
must be all sent out of the Country, or else the remedy
would be worse than the disease; and it is to be feared that
those Negroes that are free, if there be not some strict
course taken with them by Authority, they will be a plague
to this Country.

"_Again_, If it should be unlawful to deprive them that are
lawful Captives, or Bondmen of their Liberty for Life being
Heathens; it seems to be more unlawful to deprive our
Brethren, of our own or other Christian Nations of the
Liberty, (though but for a time) by binding them to Serve
some Seven, Ten, Fifteen, and some Twenty Years, which oft
times proves for their whole Life, as many have been; which
in effect is the same in Nature, though different in the
time, yet this was allow'd among the _Jews_ by the Law of
God; and is the constant practice of our own and other
Christian Nations in the World: the which our Author by his
Dogmatical Assertions doth condem as Irreligious; which is
Diametrically contrary to the Rules and Precepts which God
hath given the diversity of men to observe in their
respective Stations, Callings, and Conditions of Life, as
hath been observed.

"And to illustrate his Assertion our Author brings in by way
of Comparison the Law of God against man Stealing, on pain
of Death: Intimating thereby, that Buying and Selling of
Negro's is a breach of that Law, and so deserves Death: A
severe Sentence: But herein he begs the Question with a
_Caveat Emptor_. For, in that very Chapter there is a
Dispensation to the People of _Israel_, to have Bond men,
Women and Children, even of their own Nation in some case;
and Rules given therein to be observed concerning them;
Verse the 4_th_. And in the before cited place, _Levit 25.
44, 45, 46_. Though the _Israelites_ were forbidden
(ordinarily) to make Bond men and Women of their own Nation,
but of Strangers they might: the words run thus, verse 44.
_Both thy Bond men, and thy Bond maids which thou shall have
shall be of the Heathen, that are round about you: of them
shall you Buy Bond men and Bond maids, &c_. See also, I
_Cor. 12, 13_. Whether we be Bond or Free, which shows that
in the times of the New Testament, there were Bond men also,

"_In fine_, The sum of this long Haurange, is no other, than
to compare the Buying and Selling of Negro's unto the
Stealing of Men, and the Selling of _Joseph_ by his
Brethren, which bears no proportion therewith, nor is there
any congruiety therein, as appears by the foregoing Texts.

"Our Author doth further proceed to answer some Objections
of his own framing, which he supposes some might raise.

"Object. 1. _That these Blackamores are of the Posterity of_
Cham, _and therefore under the Curse of Slavery. Gen. 9. 25,
26, 27._ The which the Gentleman seems to deny, saying,
_they ware the Seed of Canaan that were Cursed, &c._

"_Answ._ Whether they were so or not, we shall not dispute:
this may suffice, that not only the seed of _Cham_ or
_Canaan_, but any lawful Captives of other Heathen Nations
may be made Bond men as hath been proved.

"Obj. 2. _That the Negroes are brought out of Pagan
Countreys into places where the Gospel is preached._ To
which he Replies, _that we must not doe Evil that Good may
come of it_.

"_Ans._ To which we answer, That it is no Evil thing to
bring them out of their own Heathenish Country, where they
may have the knowledge of the True God, be Converted and
Eternally saved.

"Obj. 3. _The_ Affricans _have Wars one with another_; our
Ships bring lawful Captives taken in those Wars.

"To which our Author answers Conjecturally, and Doubtfully,
_for aught we know_, that which may or may not be; which is
insignificant, and proves nothing. He also compares the
Negroes Wars, one Nation with another, with the Wars between
_Joseph_ and his Brethren. But where doth he read of any
such War? We read indeed of a Domestick Quarrel they had
with him, they envyed and hated _Joseph_; but by what is
Recorded, he was meerly passive and meek as a Lamb. This
Gentleman farther adds, _That there is not any War but is
unjust on one side, &c._ Be it so, what doth that signify:
We read of lawful Captives taken in the Wars, and lawful to
be Bought and Sold without contracting the guilt of the
_Agressors_; for which we have the example of _Abraham_
before quoted; but if we must stay while both parties
Warring are in the right, there would be no lawful Captives
at all to be Bought; which seems to be rediculous to
imagine, and contrary to the tenour of Scripture, and all
Humane Histories on that subject.

"Obj. 4. _Abraham had Servants bought with his Money, and
born in his House. Gen. 14. 14._ To which our worthy Author
answers, _until the Circumstances of Abraham's purchase be
recorded, no Argument can be drawn from it_.

"_Ans._ To which we Reply, this is also Dogmatical, and
proves nothing. He farther adds, _In the mean time Charity
Obliges us to conclude, that he knew it was lawful and
good_. Here the gentleman yields the case; for if we are in
Charity bound to believe _Abrahams_ practice, in buying and
keeping _Slaves_ in his house to be lawful and good: then it
follows, that our Imitation of him in this his Moral Action,
is as warrantable as that of his Faith; _who is the Father
of all them that believe. Rom. 4. 16._

"In the close all, Our Author Quotes two more places of
Scripture, _viz., Levit. 25. 46_, and _Jer. 34._ from the 8.
to the 22. _v_. To prove that the people of Israel were
strictly forbidden the Buying and Selling one another for
_Slaves_: who questions that? and what is that to the case
in hand? What a strange piece of Logick is this? 'Tis
unlawful for Christians to Buy and Sell one another for
slaves. _Ergo_, It is unlawful to Buy and Sell Negroes that
are lawful Captiv'd Heathens.

"And after a Serious Exhortation to us all to Love one
another according to the Command of Christ _Math. 5, 43,
44_. This worthy Gentleman concludes with this Assertion,
_That these Ethiopians as Black as they are, seeing they are
the Sons and Daughters of the first_ Adam; _the Brethren and
Sisters of the Second_ Adam, _and the Offspring of God; we
ought to treat them with a respect agreeable_.

"_Ans._ We grant it for a certain and undeniable verity,
That all Mankind are the Sons and Daughters of _Adam_, and
the Creatures of God: But it doth not therefore follow that
we are bound to love and respect all men alike; this under
favour we must take leave to deny, we ought in charity, if
we see our Neighbour in want, to relieve them in a regular
way, but we are not bound to give them so much of our
Estates, as to make them equal with ourselves, because they
are our Brethren, the Sons of _Adam_, no, not our own
natural Kinsmen: We are Exhorted _to do good unto all, but
especially to them who are of the Household of Faith, Gal.
6. 10_. And we are to love, honour and respect all men
according to the gift of God that is in them. I may love my
Servant well, but my Son better; Charity begins at home, it
would be a violation of common prudence, and a breach of
good manners, to treat a Prince like a Peasant. And this
worthy Gentleman would deem himself much neglected, if we
should show him no more Defference than to an ordinary
Porter: And therefore these florid expressions, the Sons and
Daughters of the First _Adam_, the Brethren and Sisters of
the Second _Adam_, and the Offspring of God, seem to be
misapplied to import and insinuate, that we ought to tender
Pagan Negroes with all love, kindness, and equal respect as
to the best of men.

"By all which it doth evidently appear both by Scripture and
Reason, the practice of the People of God in all Ages, both
before and after the giving of the Law, and in the times of
the Gospel, that there were Bond men, Women and Children
commonly kept by holy and good men, and improved in Service;
and therefore by the Command of God, _Lev. 25, 44_, and
their venerable Example, we may keep Bond men, and use them
in our Service still; yet with all candour, moderation and
Christian prudence, according to their state and condition
consonant to the Word of God."

Judge Sewall had dealt slavery a severe blow, and opened up an
agitation on the subject that was felt during the entire Revolutionary
struggle. He became the great apostle of liberty, the father of the
anti-slavery movement in the colony. He was the bold and stern John
the Baptist of that period, "the voice of one crying in the
wilderness" of bondage, to prepare the way for freedom.

The Quakers, or Friends as they were called, were perhaps the earliest
friends of the slaves, but, like Joseph of Arimathæa, were "secretly"
so, for fear of the "Puritans." But they early recorded their
disapprobation of slavery as follows: -

_26th day of y'e 9th mo. 1716._

"An epistle from the last Quarterly Meeting was read in
this, and y'e matter referred to this meeting, viz., whether
it is agreeable to truth for friends to purchase slaves and
keep them term of liffe, was considered, and y'e sense and
judgment of this meeting is, that it is not agreeable to
truth for friends to purchase slaves and hold them term of

"Nathaniel Starbuck, jun'r is to draw out this meeting's
judgment concerning friends not buying slaves and keeping
them term of liffe, and send it to the next Quarterly
Meeting, and to sign it in y'e meeting's behalf."[377]

Considering the prejudice and persecution that pursued this good
people, their testimony against slavery is very remarkable. In 1729-30
Elihu Coleman of Nantucket, a minister of the society of Friends,
wrote a book against slavery, published in 1733, entitled, "_A
Testimony against that Anti-Christian Practice of_ MAKING SLAVES
OF MEN.[378] It was well written, and the truth fearlessly told
for the conservative, self-seeking period he lived in. He says, -

"I am not unthoughtful of the ferment or stir that such
discourse as this may make among some, who (like Demetrius
of old) may say, by this craft we have our wealth, which
caused the people to cry out with one voice, great is Diana
of the Ephesians, whom all Asia and the world worship."

He examined and refuted the arguments put forth in defence of slavery,
charged slaveholders with idleness, and contended that slavery was the
mother of vice, at war with the laws of nature and of God. Others
caught the spirit of reform, and the agitation movement gained
recruits and strength every year. Felt says, "1765. Pamphlets and
newspapers discuss the subjects of slavery with increasing zeal." The
colonists were aroused. Men were taking one side or the other of a
question of great magnitude. In 1767 an anonymous tract of twenty
octavo pages against slavery made its appearance in Boston. It was
written by Nathaniel Appleton, a co-worker with Otis, and an advanced
thinker on the subject of emancipation. It was in the form of a letter
addressed to a friend, and was entitled, "Considerations on Slavery."
The Rev. Samuel Webster Salisbury published on the 2d of March, 1769,
"An Earnest Address to my Country on Slavery." He opened his article
with an argument showing the inconsistency of a Christian people
holding slaves, pictured the evil results of slavery, and then
asked, -

"What then is to be done? Done! for God's sake break every
yoke and let these oppressed ones _go free without
delay_ - let them taste the sweets of that _liberty_, which
we so highly prize, and are so earnestly supplicating God
and man to grant us: nay, which we claim as the natural
right of every man. Let me beseech my countrymen to put on
bowels of compassion for these their _brethren_ (for so I
must call them,) yea, let me beseech you for your own sake
and for God's sake, _to break every yoke_ and let the
oppressed go free."[379]

Begun among the members of the bar and the pulpit, the common folk at
length felt a lively interest in the subject of emancipation. An
occasional burst of homely, vigorous eloquence from the pulpit on the
duties of the hour inflamed the conscience of the pew with a noble
zeal for a righteous cause. The afflatus of liberty sat upon the
people as cloven tongues. Every village, town, and city had its
orators whose only theme was emancipation. "The pulpit and the press
were not silent, and sermons and essays in behalf of the enslaved
Africans were continually making their appearance." The public
conscience was being rapidly educated, and from the hills of Berkshire
to the waters of Massachusetts Bay the fires of liberty were burning.


[260] George H. Moore, LL.D., for many years librarian of the New-York
Historical Society, but at present the efficient superintendent of the
Lenox Library, in his "Notes on the History of Slavery in
Massachusetts," has summoned nearly all the orators and historians of
Massachusetts to the bar of history. He leaves them open to one of
three charges, viz., evading the truth, ignorance of it, or falsifying
the record. And in addition to this work, which is authority, his
"Additional Notes" glow with an energy and perspicuity of style which
lead me to conclude that Dr. Moore works admirably under the spur, and
that his refined sarcasm, unanswerable logic, and critical accuracy
give him undisputed place amongst the ablest writers of our times.

[261] Wood's New-England Prospect, 1634, p. 77.

[262] Slavery in Mass., p. 7.

[263] Ibid., pp. 4, 5, and 6.

[264] Elliott's New-England Hist., pp. 167-205.

[265] Winthrop's Journal, Feb. 26, 1638, vol. i. p. 254; see, also,
Felt, vol. ii. p. 230.

[266] Dr. Moore backs his statement as to the time The Desire was
built by quoting from Winthrop, vol. i. p. 193. But there is a mistake
somewhere as to the correct date. Winthrop says she was built in 1636;
but I find in Mr. Drake's "Founders of New England," pp. 31, 32, this
entry: "More (June) XXth, 1635. In the Desire de Lond. Pearce, and
bond for New Eng. p'r cert, fro ij Justices of Peace and ministers of
All Saints lionian in Northampton." If she sailed in 1635, she must
have been built earlier.

[267] Dr. George H. Moore says Josselyn's Voyages were printed in
1664. This is an error. They were not published until ten years later,
in 1674. In 1833 the Massachusetts Historical Society printed the work
in the third volume and third series of their collection.

[268] Josselyn, p. 28.

[269] Ibid., p. 250.

[270] Ibid., p. 258.

[271] Slavery in Mass., p. 9.

[272] Mass. Hist Coll., vol. iv. 4th Series, p. 333, _sq._

[273] Mr. Bancroft (Centenary Edition, vol. i. p. 137) says, "The
earliest importation of Negro slaves into New England was made in
1637, from Providence Isle, in the Salem ship Desire." But Winthrop
(vol. i. p. 254, under date of the 26th of February, 1638) says, "The
Desire returned from the West Indies after seven months." He also
states (ibid., p. 193) that The Desire was "built at Marblehead in
1636." But this may or may not be true according to the old method of
keeping time.

[274] Palfrey's Hist. of N.E., vol. ii. p. 30, note.

[275] Josselyn, p. 257.

[276] Elliott's New-England Hist., vol. ii. pp. 57, 58.

[277] Hildreth, vol. i, p. 270, _sq_.

[278] Ancient Charters and Laws of Mass., pp. 52, 23.

[279] Slavery in Mass., p. 13, note.

[280] Slavery in Mass., pp. 18, 19.

[281] Ibid., p. 12.

[282] Elliott's New-England Hist., vol. i. p. 383.

[283] Hildreth, vol. i. p. 278.

[284] Mass. Hist. Coll., vol. iv. 4th Series, p. 334.

[285] Quoted by Dr. Moore, p. 20.

[286] Commonwealth _vs_. Aves, 18 Pickering, p. 208.

[287] Andover _vs_. Canton, Mass. Reports, 551, 552, quoted by Dr.

[288] Kendall's Travels, vol. ii. p. 179.

[289] The following note, if it refers to the kidnapped Negroes, gives
an earlier date, - "29th May, 1644. Mr. Blackleach his petition about
the Mores was consented to, to be committed to the eld'rs, to enforme
us of the mind of God herein, & then further to consider it." - _Mass.
Records_, vol. ii. p. 67.

[290] Bancroft, Centennial edition, vol. i. p. 137.

[291] Hildreth, vol. i. p. 282.

[292] The petition is rather a remarkable paper, and is printed below.
It is evident that the judge was in earnest. And yet the court, while
admitting the petition, tried the case on only one ground,

_To the honored general court._

The oath I took this yeare att my enterance upon the place
of assistante was to this effect: That I would truly
endeavour the advancement of the gospell and the good of the
people of this plantation (to the best of my skill)
dispencing justice equally and impartially (according to the
laws of God and this land) in all cases wherein I act by
virtue of my place. I conceive myself called by virtue of my
place to act (according to this oath) in the case concerning
the negers taken by captain Smith and Mr. Keser; wherein it
is apparent that Mr. Keser gave chace to certaine negers;
and upon the same day tooke divers of them; and at another
time killed others; and burned one of their townes. Omitting
several misdemeanours, which accompanied these acts above
mentioned, I conceive the acts themselves to bee directly
contrary to these following laws (all of which are capitall
by the word of God; and two of them by the lawes of this

The act (or acts) of murder (whether by force or fraude) are
expressly contrary both to the law of God, and the law of
this country.

The act of stealing negers, or taking them by force (Whether
it be considered as theft or robbery) is (as I conceive)
expressly contrary, both to the law of God, and the law of
this country.

_The act of chaceing the negers (as aforesayde) upon the
sabbath day (being a servile worke and such as cannot be
considered under any other heade) is expressly capitall by
the law of God._

These acts and outrages being committed where there was noe
civill government, which might call them to accompt, and the
persons, by whom they were committed beeing of our
jurisdiction, I conceive this court to bee the ministers of
God in this case, and therefore my humble request is that
the severall offenders may be imprisoned by the order of
this court, and brought into their deserved censure in
convenient time; and this I humbly crave that soe the sinn
they have committed may be upon their own heads, and not
upon ourselves (as otherwise it will.)

Yrs in all christean observance,
Richard Saltonstall.

The house of deputs thinke meete that this petition shall be
granted, and desire our honored magistrats concurrence

Edward Rawson.
- Coffin's _Newbury_, pp. 335, 336.

[293] Laws Camb., 1675, p. 15.

[294] Hildreth, vol. i. p. 368.

[295] Coffin, p. 335.

[296] Drake (p. 288) says, "This act, however, was afterwards repealed
or disregarded."

[297] Mass. Records, vol ii. p 129.

[298] Moore, Appendix, 251, _sq._

[299] Slavery in Mass., p. 30.

[300] Hildreth, vol. i. p, 282.

[301] Slavery in Mass., p. 49. See, also, Drake's Boston, p. 441,

[302] Mass. Hist. Coll., vol. viii. 3d Series, p. 337.

[303] Slavery in Mass., p. 50.

[304] Coll. Amer. Stat. Asso., vol. i. p. 586.

[305] Douglass's British Settlements, vol. i. p. 531.

[306] Drake, p. 714. I cannot understand how Dr. Moore gets 1,514
slaves in Boston in 1742, except from Douglass. His "1742" should read
1752, and his "1,514" slaves should read 1,541 slaves.

[307] "There is a curious illustration of 'the way of putting it' in
Massachusetts, in Mr. Felt's account of this 'census of slaves,' in
the Collections of the American Statistical Association, vol. i. p,
208. He says that the General Court passed this order 'for the purpose
of having an accurate account of slaves in our Commonwealth, _as a
subject in which the people were becoming much interested, relative to
the cause of liberty!_" There is not a particle of authority for this
suggestion - such a motive for their action never existed anywhere but
in the imagination of the writer himself!" - _Slavery in Mass_., p. 51,

[308] Ancient Charters and Laws of Mass., p. 748.

[309] Ibid.

[310] Slavery in Mass., p. 61.

[311] Hildreth, vol. ii. pp. 269, 270.

[312] Drake's Boston, p. 574.

[313] Spectator, No. 215, Nov. 6, 1711.

[314] Slavery in Mass., p. 64.

[315] "In the inventory of the estate of Samuel Morgaridge, who died
in 1754, I find,

'Item, three negroes £133, 6_s._, 8_d._
Item, flax £12, 2_s._, 8.'

"In the inventory of Henry Rolfe's estate, taken in April, 1711, I
find the following, namely,

'Fifteen sheep, old and young £3, 15_s._
An old gun 2
An old Negroe man 10 0
- - - -
£13 7_s._'"
- COFFIN, p. 188.

[316] Slavery in Mass., pp. 64, 65.

[317] Drake, 583, note.

[318] Here is a sample of the sales of those days: "In 1716, Rice
Edwards, of Newbury, shipwright, sells to Edmund Greenleaf 'my whole
personal estate with all my goods and chattels as also _one negro
man_, one cow, three pigs with timber, plank, and boards." - COFFIN, p.

[319] New-England Weekly Journal, No. 267, May 1, 1732.

[320] A child one year and a half old - a nursing child sold from the
bosom of its mother! - and _for life!_ - COFFIN, p. 337.

[321] Slavery in Mass., p. 96. Note.

[322] Eight years after this, on the 22d of June, 1735, Mr. Plant
records in his diary: "I wrote Mr. Salmon of Barbadoes to send me a
Negro." (Coffin, p. 338.) It doesn't appear that the reverend
gentleman was opposed to slavery!

[323] Note quoted by Dr. Moore, p. 58.

[324] Hildreth, vol. i. p. 44.

[325] "For they tell the Negroes, that they must believe in Christ,
and receive the Christian faith, and that they must receive the
sacrament, and be baptized, and so they do; but still they keep them
slaves for all this." - MACY'S _Hist. of Nantucket_, pp. 280,

[326] Ancient Charters and Laws of Mass., p. 117.

[327] Mr. Palfrey relies upon a single reference in Winthrop for the
historical trustworthiness of his statement that a Negro slave could
be a member of the church. He thinks, however, that this "presents a
curious question," and wisely reasons as follows: "As a church-member,

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 25 of 57)