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 29 of 57)
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Perhaps the writer had himself graduated from the criminal class! But
there were gentlemen who differed with him, and couched their
objections to the convict system of importation in very vigorous
English. On the 20th of August, 1767, two articles appeared in
"Greene's Gazette." Says one of these writers, -

"For who, but a man swayed with the most sordid selfishness,
would endeavor to disarm the people of all caution against
such imminent danger, lest their just apprehensions should
interfere with his little schemes of profit? And who but
such a man would appear publicly as an advocate for the
importation of felons, the scourings of jails, and the
abandoned outcasts of the British nation, as a mode in any
sort eligible for peopling a young country?"

There can be no doubt but that many of the convicts thus imported,
having served out their time, in a brief season became slave-drivers
and slave-owners. With hearts reduced to flinty hardness in the fires
of unrestrained passions, the convict element, as it became absorbed
in the great free white population of the Province,[425] created a
most positive sentiment in favor of a cruel code for the government of
the Negro slave. There were two motives that inspired the ex-convict
to cruelty to the Negro: to divert attention from himself, and to
persuade himself, in his doubting mind, that the Negro was inferior to
him by _nature_. It was, no doubt, a great undertaking; but the
findings of such a court must have been comforting to an anxious
conscience! The result can be judged. Maryland made a slave-code,
which, for cruelty and general inhumanity, has no equal in the
South.[426] The Maryland laws of 1715 contained, in chapter
forty-four, an act with one hundred and thirty-five sections relating
to Negro slaves. A most rigorous pass-system was established. By
section six, no Negro or other servant was allowed to leave the county
without a pass under the seal of the county in which their master
resided; for which pass the slave or other servant was compelled to
pay ten pounds of tobacco, or one shilling in money. If such persons
were apprehended, a justice of the peace could impose such fines and
inflict such punishment as were fixed by the law applying to runaways.
By the Act of 1723, chapter fifteen, under the caption of "_An Act to
prevent the tumultuous meeting and other irregularities of negroes and
other slaves_," the severity of the laws was increased tenfold.
According to section four, a Negro or other slave who had the temerity
to strike a white person, was to have his ears "_cropt on order of a
Justice_." Section six denies slaves the right of possession of
property: they could not own cattle. Section seven gave authority to
any white man to kill a Negro who resisted an attempt to arrest him;
and by a supplemental Act of 1751, chapter fourteen, the owner of a
slave thus killed was to be paid out of the public treasury. In 1729
an Act was passed providing, that upon the conviction of certain
crimes, Negroes and other slaves shall be not only hanged, but the
body should be quartered, and exposed to public view. When slaves grew
old and infirm in the service of their masters, and the latter were
inspired by a desire to compliment the faithfulness of their servants
by emancipation, the law came in and forbade manumission by the "last
will or testament," or the making free in any way of Negro slaves. It
was a temporary Act, passed in 1752, void of every element of
humanity; and yet it stood as the law of the colony for twenty long
years.

In 1748 the Negro population of Maryland was thirty-six thousand, and
still rapidly increasing.

"By a 'very accurate census,' taken this year, this was
found to be the number of white inhabitants in Maryland: -

+ - - - - -+ - - - - + - - - - - -+ - - - - - -+ - - - - -+
| | FREE. | SERVANTS. | CONVICTS. | TOTAL. |
+ - - - - -+ - - - - + - - - - - -+ - - - - - -+ - - - - -+
|Men | 24,058 | 3,576 | 1,507 | 29,141 |
|Women | 23,521 | 1,824 | 386 | 25,731 |
|Boys | 26,637 | 1,048 | 67 | 27,752 |
|Girls | 24,141 | 422 | 21 | 24,584 |
| - - - - -+ - - - - + - - - - - -+ - - - - - -+ - - - - -+
| | 98,357 | 6,870 | 1,981 | 107,208 |
+ - - - - -+ - - - - + - - - - - -+ - - - - - -+ - - - - -+

"By the same account the total number of mulattoes in
Maryland amounted to 3,592; and the total number of Negroes,
to 42,764. Pres. Stiles' MS. It was reckoned (say the
authors of Univ. Hist.), that above 2,000 Negro slaves were
annually imported into Maryland."[427]

In 1756 the blacks had increased to 46,225, and in 1761 to 49,675.
There was nothing in the laws to prohibit the instruction of Negroes,
and yet no one dared to brave public sentiment on that point. The
churches gave no attention or care to the slaves. During the first
half or three-quarters of a century there was an indiscriminate
mingling and marrying among the Negroes and white servants; and,
although this was forbidden by rigid statutes, it went on to a
considerable extent. The half-breed, or Mulatto, population
increased;[428] and so did the number of free Negroes. The contact of
these two elements - of slaves and convicts - was neither prudent nor
healthy. The Negroes suffered from the touch of the moral contagion of
this effete matter driven out of European society. Courted as rather
agreeable companions by the convicts at first, the Negro slaves were
at length treated worse by the ex-convicts than by the most
intelligent and opulent slave-dealers in all the Province. And with no
rights in the courts, incompetent to hold an office of any kind, the
free Negroes were in almost as disagreeable a situation as the slaves.

From the founding of the colony of Maryland in 1632 down to the
Revolutionary War, there is no record left us that any effort was ever
made to cure the most glaring evils of slavery. For the Negro this was
one long, starless night of oppression and outrage. No siren's voice
whispered to him of a distant future, propitious and gracious to
hearts almost insensible to a throb of joy, to minds unconscious of
the feeblest rays of light. Being _absolute_ property, it was the
right of the master to say how much food, or what quantity of
clothing, his slave should have. There were no rules by which a slave
could claim the privilege of ceasing from labor at the close of the
day. No, the master had the same right to work his slaves after
nightfall as to drive his horse morning, noon, and night. Poor
clothes, rough and scanty diet, wretched quarters, overworked,
neglected in body and mind, the Negroes of Maryland had a sore lot.

The Revolution was nearing. Public attention was largely occupied with
the Stamp Act and preparations for hostilities. The Negro was left to
toil on; and, while at this time there was no legislation sought for
slavery, there was nothing done that could be considered hostile to
the institution. The Negroes hailed the mutterings of the distant
thunders of revolution as the precursor of a new era to them. It did
furnish an opportunity for them in Maryland to prove themselves
patriots and brave soldiers. And how far their influence went to
mollify public sentiment concerning them, will be considered in its
appropriate place. Suffice it now to say, that cruel and hurtful,
unjust and immoral, as the institution of slavery was, it had not
robbed the Negro of a lofty conception of the fundamental principles
that inspired white men to resist the arrogance of England; nor did it
impair his enthusiasm in the cause that gave birth to a new republic
amid the shock of embattled arms.


FOOTNOTES:

[414] Dr. Abiel Holmes, in his American Annals, vol. ii. p. 5, says,
"Maryland now contained about thirty-six thousand persons, of white
men from sixteen years of age and upwards, and negroes male, and
female from sixteen to sixty." I infer from this statement that
slavery was in existence in Maryland in 1634; and I cannot find any
thing in history to lead me to doubt but that slavery was born with
the colony.

[415] Cabinet Cyclopædia, vol. i. p. 61.

[416] See Bacon's Laws, also Holmes's Annals, vol. i. p. 250.

[417] The following appeared in the Plantation Laws, printed in London
in 1705: "Where any negro or slave, being in servitude or bondage, is
or shall become Christian, and receive the sacrament of baptism, the
same shall not nor ought not to be deemed, adjudged or construed to be
a manumission or freeing of any such negro or slave, or his or her
issue, from their servitude or bondage, but that notwithstanding they
shall at all times hereafter be and remain in servitude and bondage as
they were before baptism, any opinion, matter or thing to the contrary
notwithstanding."

[418] McSherry's Hist. of Maryland, p. 86.

[419] Freedom and Bondage, vol. i. p. 249.

[420] McMahon's Hist. of Maryland, vol. i. p. 274.

[421] The following form was used for a long time in Maryland for
binding out a servant.

This Indenture _made the - - day of - - in the - - yeere
of our Soveraigne Lord King_ Charles,_&c betweene - - of
the one party_, and - - on the _other party_, Witnesseth,
_that the said - - doth hereby covenant promise, and grant,
to and with the said - - his Executors and Assignes, to
serve him from the day of the date hereof, untill his first
and next arrivall in_ Maryland: _and after for and during
the tearme of - - yeeres, in such service and imployment,
as the said - - or his assignee shall there imploy him,
according to the custome of the Countrey in the like kind.
In consideration whereof, the said - - doth promise and
grant, to and with the said - - to pay for his passing, and
to find him with Meat, Drinke, Apparell and Lodging, with
other necessaries during the said terme; and at the end of
the said terme, to give him one whole yeeres provision of
Corne, and fifty acres of Land, according to the order of
the countrey. In witnesse whereof, the said - - hath
hereunto put his hand and seate, the day and yeere above
written_.

Sealed and delivered in the presence of - -

- _Relation of the state of Maryland_, pp. 62, 63.


[422] Modern Traveller, vol. i. pp. 122, 123.

[423] McMahon's Maryland, vol. i. p. 278.

[424] 1st Pitkin's United States, p. 133.

[425] McMahone says of this convict element: "The pride of this age
revolts at the idea of going back to such as these, for the roots of a
genealogical tree; and they, whose delight it would be, to trace their
blood through many generations of stupid, sluggish, imbecile
ancestors, with no claim to merit but the name they carry down, will
even submit to be called '_novi homines_,' if a convict stand in the
line of ancestry."

[426] With perhaps the single exception of South Carolina, of which
the reader will learn more farther on.

[427] American Annals.

[428] Dr. Holmes says, "The total number of mulattoes in Maryland
amounted to 3,592," in 1755.




CHAPTER XVII.

THE COLONY OF DELAWARE.

1636-1775.

THE TERRITORY OF DELAWARE SETTLED IN PART BY SWEDES AND
DANES, ANTERIOR TO THE YEAR 1678. - THE DUKE OF YORK
TRANSFERS THE TERRITORY OF DELAWARE TO WILLIAM PENN. - PENN
GRANTS THE COLONY THE PRIVILEGE OF SEPARATE
GOVERNMENT. - SLAVERY INTRODUCED ON THE DELAWARE AS EARLY AS
1636. - COMPLAINT AGAINST PETER ALRICKS FOR USING OXEN AND
NEGROES BELONGING TO THE COMPANY. - THE FIRST LEGISLATION ON
THE SLAVERY QUESTION IN THE COLONY. - AN ENACTMENT OF A LAW
FOR THE BETTER REGULATION OF SERVANTS. - AN ACT RESTRAINING
MANUMISSION.


Anterior to the year 1638, the territory now occupied by the State of
Delaware was settled in part by Swedes and Danes. It has been recorded
of them that they early declared that it was "not lawful to buy and
keep slaves."[429] But the Dutch claimed the territory. When New
Netherlands was ceded to the Duke of York, Delaware was occupied by
his representatives. On the 24th of August, 1682, the Duke transferred
that territory to William Penn.[430] But in 1703 Penn surrendered the
old form of government, and gave the Delaware counties the privilege
of a separate administration under the _Charter of Privileges_.
Delaware inaugurated a legislature, but remained under the Council and
Governor of Pennsylvania. But slavery made its appearance on the
Delaware as early as 1636.[431]

"At this early period there appears to have been slavery on
the Delaware. As one Coinclisse was 'condemned, on the 3d of
February, to serve the company with the blacks on South
River for wounding a soldier at Fort Amsterdam. He was also
to pay a fine to the fiscal, and damages to the wounded
soldier.' On the 22d, a witness testifying in the case of
Governor Van Twiller, (the governor of New Neitherlands
before Kieft,) who was charged with neglect and
mismanagement of the company's affairs, said that 'he had
in his custody for Van Twiller, at Fort Hope and Nassau,
twenty-four to thirty goats, and that _three negroes bought
by the director_ in 1636, were since employed in his private
service.' Thus it will be seen that slavery was introduced
on the Delaware as early as 1636, though probably not in
this State, as the Dutch at that time had no settlement
here."[432]

And on the 15th of September, 1657, complaint was made that Peter
Alricks had "used the company's oxen and negroes;" thus showing that
there were quite a number of Negroes in the colony at the time
mentioned. In September, 1661, there was a meeting between Calvert,
D'Hinoyossa, Peter Alricks, and two Indian chiefs, to negotiate terms
of peace. At this meeting the Marylanders agreed to furnish the Dutch
annually three thousand hogsheads of tobacco, provided the Dutch would
"supply them with negroes and other commodities."[433] Negroes were
numerous, and an intercolonial traffic in slaves was established.

The first legislation on the slavery question in the colony of
Delaware was had in 1721. "_An Act for the trial of Negroes_" provided
that two justices and six freeholders should have full power to try
"negro and mulatto slaves" for heinous offences. In case slaves were
executed, the Assembly paid the owner two-thirds the value of such
slave. It forbade convocations of slaves, and made it a misdemeanor to
carry arms. During the same year an Act was passed punishing adultery
and fornication. In case of children of a white woman by a slave, the
county court bound them out until they were thirty-one years of age.
In 1739 the Legislature passed an Act for the better regulation of
servants and slaves, consisting of sixteen articles. It provided that
no indentured servant should be sold into another government without
the approval of at least one justice. Such servant could not be
assigned over except before a justice. If a person manumitted a slave,
good security was required: if he failed to do this, the manumission
was of no avail. If free Negroes did not care for their children, they
were liable to be bound out. In 1767 the Legislature passed another
Act restraining manumission. It recites: -

"SECTION 2. _And be it enacted by the honorable John Penn,
esq. with his Majesty's royal approbation, Lieutenant
Governor and Commander in Chief of the counties of
New-Castle, Kent and Sussex, upon Delaware, and province of
Pennsylvania, under the honorable Thomas Penn and Richard
Penn, esquires, true and absolute proprietaries of the said
counties and province, by and with the advice and consent of
the Representatives of the freemen of the said counties, in
General Assembly met, and by the authority of the same_,
That if any master or mistress shall, by will or otherwise,
discharge or set free any Mulatto or Negro slave or slaves;
he or she, or his or her executors or administrators, at the
next respective County Court of Quarter Sessions, shall
enter into a recognizance with sufficient sureties, to be
taken in the name of the Treasurer of the said county for
the time being, in the sum of Sixty Pounds for each slave so
set free, to indemnify the county from any charge they or
any of them may be unto the same, in case of such Negro or
Mulattoe's being sick, or otherwise rendered incapable to
support him or herself; and that until such recognizance be
given, no such Negro or Mulatto shall be deemed free."[434]

The remainder of the slave code in this colony was like unto those of
the other colonies, and therefore need not be described. Negroes had
no rights, ecclesiastical or political. They had no property, nor
could they communicate a relation of any character. They had no
religious or secular training, and none of the blessings of home life.
Goaded to the performance of the most severe tasks, their only audible
reply was an occasional growl. It sent a feeling of terror through
their inhuman masters, and occasioned them many ugly dreams.


FOOTNOTES:

[429] Dr. Stevens in his History of Georgia, vol. i. p. 288, says, "In
the Swedish and German colony, which Gustavus Adolphus planted in
Delaware, and which in many points resembled the plans of the
Trustees, negro servitude was disallowed." But he gives no authority,
I regret.

[430] See Laws of Delaware, vol. i. Appendix, pp. 1-4.

[431] Albany Records, vol. ii, p. 10.

[432] Vincent's History of Delaware, p. 159.

[433] Ibid., p. 381.

[434] Laws of Delaware, vol. i. p. 436.




CHAPTER XVIII.

THE COLONY OF CONNECTICUT.

1646-1775.

THE FOUNDING OF CONNECTICUT, 1631-36. - NO RELIABLE DATA
GIVEN FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF SLAVES. - NEGROES WERE FIRST
INTRODUCED SOME DURING THE EARLY YEARS OF THE
COLONY. - "COMMITTEE FOR TRADE AND FOREIGN
PLANTATIONS." - INTERROGATING THE GOVERNOR AS THE NUMBER OF
NEGROES IN THE COLONY IN 1680. - THE LEGISLATURE (1690)
PASSES A LAW PERTAINING TO THE PURCHASE AND TREATMENT OF
SLAVES AND FREE PERSONS. - AN ACT PASSED BY THE GENERAL COURT
IN 1711, REQUIRING PERSONS MANUMITTING SLAVES TO MAINTAIN
THEM. - REGULATING THE SOCIAL CONDUCT OF SLAVES IN 1723. - THE
PUNISHMENT OF NEGRO, INDIAN, AND MULATTO SLAVES, FOR THE USE
OF PROFANE LANGUAGE, IN 1630. - LAWFULNESS OF INDIAN AND
NEGRO SLAVERY RECOGNIZED BY CODE, SEPT. 5, 1646. - LIMITED
RIGHTS OF FREE NEGROES IN THE COLONY. - NEGRO POPULATIONS IN
1762. - ACT AGAINST IMPORTATION OF SLAVES, 1774.


Although the colony of Connecticut was founded between the years 1631
and 1636, there are to be found no reliable data by which to fix the
time of the introduction of slavery there.[435] Like the serpent's
entrance into the Garden of Eden, slavery entered into this colony
stealthily; and its power for evil was discovered only when it had
become a formidable social and political element. Vessels from the
West Coast of Africa, from the West Indies, and from Barbadoes, landed
Negroes for sale in Connecticut during the early years of its
settlement. And for many years slavery existed here, without sanction
of law, it is true, but perforce of custom. Negroes were bought as
laborers and domestics, and it was a long time before their number
called for special legislation. But, like a cancer, slavery grew until
there was not a single colony in North America that could boast of its
ability to check the dreadful curse. When the first slaves were
introduced into this colony, can never be known; but, that there were
Negro slaves from the beginning, we have the strongest historical
presumption. For nearly two decades there was no reference made to
slavery in the records of the colony.

In 1680 "the Committee for Trade and Foreign Plantations" addressed to
the governors of the North-American plantations or colonies a series
of questions. Among the twenty-seven questions put to Gov. Leete of
Connecticut, were two referring to Negroes. The questions were as
follows: -

"17. What number of English, Scotch, Irish or Forreigners
have (for these seaven yeares last past, or any other space
of time) come yearly to plant and inhabit within your
Corporation. And also, what Blacks and Slaves have been
brought in within the said time, and att what rates?

"18. What number of Whites, Blacks or Mulattos have been
born and christened, for these seaven yeares last past, or
any other space of time, for as many yeares as you are able
to state on account of?"[436]

To these the governor replied as follows: -

"17. _Answ_. For English, Scotts and Irish, there are so few
come in that we cannot give a certain acco't. Som yeares
come none; sometimes, a famaly or two, in a year. And for
Blacks, there comes sometimes 3 or 4 in a year from
Barbadoes; and they are sold usually at the rate of 22'li. a
piece, sometimes more and sometimes less, according as men
can agree with the master of vessells, or merchants that
bring them hither.

"18. _Answ_. We can give no acco't. of the perfect number of
either born; but fewe blacks; and but two blacks christened,
as we know of."[437]

It is evident that the number of slaves was not great at this time,
and that they were few and far between. The sullen and ofttimes
revengeful spirit of the Indians had its effect upon the few Negro
slaves in the colony. Sometimes they were badly treated by their
masters, and occasionally they would run away. The country was new,
the settlements scattered; and slavery as an institution, at this time
and in this colony, in its infancy. The spirit of insubordination
among the slave population seemed to call aloud for legislative
restriction. In October, 1690, the Legislature passed the following
bill: -

"Whereas many persons of this Colony doe for their necessary
use purchase negroe seruants, and often times the sayd
seruants run away to the great wronge, damage and
disapoyntment of their masters and owners, for prevention of
which for [221] the future, as much as || may be, it is
ordered by this Court that Whateuer negroe or negroes shall
hereafter, at any time, be fownd wandring out of the towne
bownds or place to which they doe belong, without a ticket
or pass from the authority, or their masters or owners,
shall be stopt and secured by any of the inhabitants, or
such as shall meet with them, and brought before the next
authority to be examined and returned to their owners, who
shall sattisfy for the charge if any be; and all ferrymen
within this Colony are hereby required not to suffer any
negroe without such certificate, to pass over their ferry by
assisting them therein, upon the penalty of twenty
shillings, to be payd as a fine to the county treasury, and
to be leuyed upon theire estates for non-payment in way of
distresse by warrant from any one Assistant or Com'r. This
order to be observed as to vagrant and susspected persons
fownd wandring from town to town, hauveing no passes; such
to be seized for examination and farther disspose by the
authority; and if any negroes are free and for themselves,
travelling without such ticket or certificate, they to bear
the charge themselves of their takeing up."[438]

The general air of complaint that pervades the above bill leads to the
conclusion that it was required by an alarming state of affairs. The
pass-system was a copy from the laws of the older colonies where
slavery had long existed. By implication free Negroes had to secure
from the proper authorities a certificate of freedom; and the bill
required them to carry it, or pay the cost of arrest.

One of the most palpable evidences of the humanity of the Connecticut
government was the following act passed in May, 1702: -

"Whereas it is observed that some persons in this Colonie
having purchased Negro or Malatta Servants or Slaves, after
they have spent the pricipall part of their time and
strength in their masters service, doe sett them at liberty,
and the said slaves not being able to provide necessaries
for themselves may become a charge and burthen to the towns
where they have served: for prevention whereof,



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 29 of 57)