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 36 of 57)
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that such defence do not relate to any formality in the
proceeding on the trial."[501]

The manner of conducting the trials of Negroes charged with felony or
misdemeanor was rather peculiar. Upon one or more white persons'
testimony, or the evidence of Negroes and Indians, bond or free, the
unfortunate defendant, "without the solemnity of a jury," before three
justices and four freeholders, could be hurried through a trial,
convicted, sentenced to die a dreadful death, and then be executed
without the officiating presence of a minister of the gospel.

The unprecedented discretion allowed to masters in the government led
to the most tragic results. Men were not only reckless of the lives of
their own slaves, but violent toward those belonging to others. If a
Negro showed the least independence in conversation with a white man,
he could be murdered in cold blood; and it was only a case of a
contumacious slave getting his dues. But men became so prodigal in the
exercise of this authority that the public became alarmed, and the
Legislature called a halt on the master-class. At first the
Legislature paid for the slaves who were destroyed by the consuming
wrath of ill-natured whites, but finally allowed an action to lie
against the persons who killed a slave. This had a tendency to reduce
the number of murdered slaves; but the fateful clause in the Locke
Constitution had educated a voracious appetite for blood, and the
extremest cruel treatment continued without abatement.

The free Negro population was very small in this colony. The following
act on manumission differs so widely from the law on this point in the
other colonies, that it is given as an illustration of the severe
character of the legislation of North Carolina against the
emancipation of Negroes.

"LVI. _And be it further enacted by the authority
aforesaid, _That no Negro or mulatto slaves shall be set
free, upon any pretence whatsoever, except for meritorious
services, to be adjudged and allowed of by the county court,
and Licence thereupon first had and obtained: and that where
any slave shall be set free by his or her master or owner,
otherwise than is herein before directed, it shall and may
be lawful for the church-wardens of the parish wherein such
negro, mulatto or Indian, shall be found, at the expiration
of six months, next alter his or her being set free, and
they are hereby authorized and required, to take up and sell
the said negro, mulatto or Indian, as a slave, at the next
court to be held for the said county, at public vendue: and
the monies arising by such sale, shall be applied to the use
of the parish, by the vestry thereof: and if any negro,
mulatto or Indian slave, set free otherwise than is herein
directed, shall depart this province, within six months next
after his or her freedom, and shall afterwards return into
this government, it shall and may be lawful for the
churchwardens of the parish where such negro or mulatto
shall be found, at the expiration of one month, next after
his or her return into this government to take up such negro
or mulatto, and sell him or them, as slaves, at the next
court to be held for the county, at public vendue; and the
monies arising thereby, to be applied, by the vestry, to the
use of the parish, as aforesaid."[502]

The free Negroes were badly treated. They were not allowed any
communion with the slaves. A free Negro man was not allowed to marry a
white woman, nor even a Negro slave woman without the consent of her
master. If he formed an alliance with a white woman, her offspring
were bound out, or sold by the church-wardens, until they obtained
their majority.[503] If the white woman were an indentured servant,
she was constrained to serve an additional year. If she were a free
woman, she was sold for two years by the church-wardens. Free Negroes
were greatly despised and shunned by both slaves and white people.

As a conspicuous proof of the glaring hypocrisy of the "nobility,"
who, in the constitution, threw open the door of the Church to the
Negro, it should be said, that, during the period from the founding of
the Province down to the colonial war, no attempt was ever made,
through the ecclesiastical establishment, to dissipate the dark clouds
of ignorance that enveloped the Negro's mind. They were left in a
state of ignorance and crime. The gravest social evils were winked at
by masters, whose lecherous examples were the occasion for the most
grievous offending of the slaves. The Mulattoes and other free Negroes
were taxed. They had no place in the militia, nor could they claim the
meanest rights of the humblest "leetman."


FOOTNOTES:

[497] Bancroft, vol. ii., 5th ed. p. 148.

[498] Statutes of S.C., vol. i. pp. 53-55.

[499] Public Acts of N.C., vol. i. p. 64.

[500] This is an instance of humanity in the North-Carolina code
worthy of special note. It stands as the only instance of justice
toward the over-worked and under-fed slaves of the colony.

[501] Public Acts of N.C., p.65.

[502] Public Acts of N.C., p. 66.

[503] The Act of 1741 says, "until 31 years of age."




CHAPTER XXIII.

THE COLONY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE.

1679-1775.

THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF MASSACHUSETTS EXERCISES
AUTHORITY OVER THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE AT ITS
ORGANIZATION. - SLAVERY EXISTED FROM THE BEGINNING. - THE
GOVERNOR RELEASES A SLAVE FROM BONDAGE. - INSTRUCTION AGAINST
IMPORTATION OF SLAVES. - SEVERAL ACTS REGULATING THE CONDUCT
OF SERVANTS. - THE INDIFFERENT TREATMENT OF SLAVES. - THE
IMPORTATION OF INDIAN SERVANTS FORBIDDEN. - AN ACT CHECKING
THE SEVERE TREATMENT OF SERVANTS AND SLAVES. - SLAVES IN THE
COLONY UNTIL THE COMMENCEMENT OF HOSTILITIES.


Anterior to the year 1679, the provincial government of Massachusetts
exercised authority over the territory that now comprises the State of
New Hampshire. It is not at all improbable, then, that slavery existed
in this colony from the beginning of its organic existence. As early
as 1683 it was set upon by the authorities as a wicked and hateful
institution. On the 14th of March, 1684, the governor of New Hampshire
assumed the responsibility of releasing a Negro slave from bondage.
The record of the fact is thus preserved: -

"_The governor tould Mr. Jaffery's negro hee might goe from
his master, hee would clere him under hande and sele, so the
fello no more attends his master's consernes._"[504]

It may be inferred from the above, that the royal governor of the
Province felt the pressure of public sentiment on the question of
anti-slavery. While this colony copied its criminal code from
Massachusetts, its people seemed to be rather select, and, on the
question of human rights, far in advance of the people of
Massachusetts. The twelfth article was: "If any man stealeth mankind
he shall be put to death or otherwise grievously punished." The entire
code - the first one - was rejected in England as "fanatical and
absurd."[505] It was the desire of this new and feeble colony to
throw every obstacle in the way of any legal recognition of slavery.
The governors of all the colonies received instruction in regard to
the question of slavery, but the governor of New Hampshire had
received an order from the crown to have the tax on imported slaves
removed. The royal instructions, dated June 30, 1761, were as
follows: -

"You are not to give your assent to, or pass any law
imposing duties on negroes imported into New
Hampshire."[506]

New Hampshire never passed any law establishing slavery, but in 1714
enacted several laws regulating the conduct of servants. One was _An
Act to prevent disorder in the night_: -

"Whereas great disorders, insolencies, and burglaries are
ofttimes raised and committed in the night time by Indian,
negro and mulatto servants and slaves, to the disquiet and
hurt of her Majesty's good subjects, for the prevention
whereof _Be it_, &c. - that no Indian, negro or mulatto
servant or slave may presume to be absent from the families
where they respectively belong, or be found abroad in the
night time after nine o'clock; unless it be upon errand for
their respective masters."[507]

The instructions against the importation of slaves were in harmony
with the feelings of the great majority of the people. They felt that
slavery would be a hinderance rather than a help to them, and in the
selection of servants chose white ones. If the custom of holding men
in bondage had become a part of the institutions of Massachusetts, - so
like a cancer that it could not be removed without endangering the
political and commercial life of the colony, - the good people of New
Hampshire, acting in the light of experience, resolved, upon the
threshold of their provincial life, to oppose the introduction of
slaves into their midst. The first result was, that they learned quite
early that they could get on without slaves; and, second, the traders
in human flesh discovered that there was no demand for slaves in New
Hampshire. Even nature fought against the crime; and Negroes were
found to be poorly suited to the climate, and, of course, were an
expensive luxury in that colony.

But, nevertheless, there were slaves in New Hampshire. The majority of
them had gone in during the time the colony was a part of the
territory of Massachusetts. They had been purchased by men who
regarded them as indispensable to them. They had lived long in many
families; children had been born unto them, and in many instances they
were warmly attached to their owners. But all masters were not alike.
Some treated their servants and slaves cruelly. The neglect in some
cases was worse than stripes or over-work. Some were poorly clad and
scantily fed; and, thus exposed to the inclemency of the severe
climate, many were precipitated into premature graves. Even white and
Indian servants shared this harsh treatment. The Indians endured
greater hardships than the Negroes. They were more lofty in their
tone, more sensitive in their feelings, more revengeful in their
disposition. They were both hated and feared, and the public sentiment
against them was very pronounced. A law, passed in 1714, forbid their
importation into the colony under a heavy penalty.

In 1718 it was found necessary to pass a law to check the severe
treatment inflicted upon servants and slaves. _An Act for restraining
inhuman severities_ recited, -

"Fort the prevention and restraining of inhuman severities
which by evil masters or overseers, may be used towards
their Christian servants, that from and after the
publication hereof, if any man smite out the eye or tooth of
his man servant or maid servant, or otherwise maim or
disfigure them much, unless it be by mere casualty, he shall
let him or her go free from his service, and shall allow
such further recompense as the court of quarter sessions
shall adjudge him. 2. That if any person or persons whatever
in this province shall wilfully kill his Indian or negroe
servant or servants he shall be punished with death."[508]

There were slaves in New Hampshire down to the breaking-out of the war
in the colonies, but they were only slaves in name. Few in number,
widely scattered, they felt themselves closely identified with the
interests of the colonists.


FOOTNOTES:

[504] Belknap's Hist. of N.H., vol. i. p. 333.

[505] Hildreth, vol. i. p. 501.

[506] Gordon's Hist. of Am. Rev., vol. v. Letter 2.

[507] Freedom and Bondage, vol. i. p. 266.

[508] Freedom and Bondage, vol. i. p. 267.




CHAPTER XXIV.

THE COLONY OF PENNSYLVANIA.

1681-1775.

ORGANIZATION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF PENNSYLVANIA. - THE SWEDES
AND DUTCH PLANT SETTLEMENTS ON THE WESTERN BANK OF THE
DELAWARE RIVER. - THE GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK SEEKS TO EXERCISE
JURISDICTION OVER THE TERRITORY OF PENNSYLVANIA. - THE FIRST
LAWS AGREED UPON IN ENGLAND. - PROVISIONS OF THE
LAW. - MEMORIAL AGAINST SLAVERY DRAUGHTED AND ADOPTED BY THE
GERMANTOWN FRIENDS. - WILLIAM PENN PRESENTS A BILL FOR THE
BITTER REGULATION OF SERVANTS. - AN ACT PREVENTING THE
IMPORTATION OF NEGROES AND INDIANS. - RIGHTS OF NEGROES. - A
DUTY LAID UPON NEGROES AND MULATTO SLAVES. - THE QUAKER THE
FRIEND OF THE NEGRO. - ENGLAND BEINGS TO THREATEN HER
DEPENDENCIES IN NORTH AMERICA. - THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA
REFLECT UPON THE PROBABLE OUTRAGES THEIR NEGROES MIGHT
COMMIT.


Long before there was an organized government in Pennsylvania, the
Swedes and Dutch had planted settlements on the western bank of the
Delaware River. But the English crown claimed the soil; and the
governor of New York, under patent from the Duke of York, sought to
exercise jurisdiction over the territory. On the 11th of July, 1681,
"Conditions and Concessions were agreed upon by William Penn,
Proprietary," and the persons who were "adventurers and purchasers in
the same province." Provision was made for the punishment of persons
who should injure Indians, and that the planter injured by them should
"not be his own judge upon the Indian." All controversies arising
between the whites and the Indians were to be settled by a council of
twelve persons, - six white men and six Indians.

The first laws for the government of the colony were agreed upon in
England, and in 1682 went into effect. Provision was made for the
registering of all servants, their full names, amount of wages paid,
and the time when they received their remuneration. It was strictly
required that servants should not be kept beyond the time of their
indenture, should be kindly treated, and the customary outfit
furnished at the time of their freedom.

The baneful custom of enslaving Negroes had spread through every
settlement in North America, and was even "tolerated in Pennsylvania
under the specious pretence of the religious instruction of the
slave."[509] In 1688 Francis Daniel Pastorius draughted a memorial
against slavery, which was adopted by the Germantown Friends, and by
them sent up to the Monthly Meeting, and thence to the Yearly Meeting
at Philadelphia.[510] The original document was found by Nathan Kite
of Philadelphia in 1844.[511] It was a remarkable document, and the
first protest against slavery issued by any religious body in America.
Speaking of the slaves, Pastorius asks, "Have not these negroes as
much right to fight for their freedom as you have to keep them
slaves?" He believed the time would come, -

"When, from the gallery to the farthest seat,
Slave and slave-owner shall no longer meet,
But all sit equal at the Master's feet."

He regarded the "buying, selling, and holding men in slavery, as
inconsistent with the Christian religion." When his memorial came
before the Yearly Meeting for action, it confessed itself "unprepared
to act," and voted it "not proper then to give a positive judgment in
the case." In 1696 the Yearly Meeting pronounced against the further
importation of slaves, and adopted measures looking toward their moral
improvement. George Keith, catching the holy inspiration of humanity,
with a considerable following, denounced the institution of slavery
"as contrary to the religion of Christ, the rights of man, and sound
reason and policy."[512]

While these efforts were, to a certain extent, abortive, yet,
nevertheless, the Society of the Friends made regulations for the
better treatment of the enslaved Negroes. The sentiment thus created
went far toward deterring the better class of citizens from purchasing
slaves. To his broad and lofty sentiments of humanity, the pious
William Penn sought to add the force of positive law. The published
views of George Fox, given at Barbadoes in 1671, in his "Gospel Family
Order, being a short discourse concerning the ordering of Families,
both of Whites, Blacks, and Indians," had a salutary effect upon the
mind of Penn. In 1700 he proposed to the Council "_the necessitie of
a law [among others] about ye marriages of negroes_." The bill was
referred to a joint committee of both houses, and they brought in a
bill "_for regulating Negroes in their Morals and Marriages_ &c." It
reached a second reading, and was lost.[513] Penn regarded the
teaching of Negroes the sanctity of the marriage relation as of the
greatest importance to the colony, and the surest means of promoting
pure morals. Upon what grounds it was rejected is not known. He
presented, at the same session of the Assembly, another bill, which
provided "_for the better regulation of servants in this province and
territories_." He desired the government of slaves to be prescribed
and regulated by law, rather than by the capricious whims of masters.
No servant was to be sold out of the Province without giving his
consent, nor could he be assigned over except before a justice of the
peace. It provided for a regular allowance to servants at the
expiration of their time, and required them to serve five days extra
for every day's absence from their master without the latter's assent.
A penalty was fixed for concealing runaway slaves, and a reward
offered for apprehending them. No free person was allowed to deal with
servants, and justices and sheriffs were to be punished for neglecting
their duties in the premises.

In case a Negro was guilty of murder, he was tried by two justices,
appointed by the governor, before six freeholders. The manner of
procedure was prescribed, and the nature of the sentence and
acquittal. Negroes were not allowed to carry a gun or other weapons.
Not more than four were allowed together, upon pain of a severe
flogging. An Act for raising revenue was passed, and a duty upon
imported slaves was levied, in 1710. In 1711-12, an Act was passed
"_to prevent the importation of negroes and Indians_" into the
Province. A general petition for the emancipation of slaves by law was
presented to the Legislature during this same year; but the wise
law-makers replied, that "it was neither just nor convenient to set
them at liberty." The bill passed on the 7th of June, 1712, but was
disapproved by Great Britain, and was accordingly repealed by an Act
of Queen Anne, Feb. 20, 1713. In 1714 and 1717, Acts were passed to
check the importation of slaves. But the English government, instead
of being touched by the philanthropic endeavors of the people of
Pennsylvania, was seeking, for purposes of commercial trade and gain,
to darken the continent with the victims of its avarice.

Negroes had no political rights in the Province. Free Negroes were
prohibited from entertaining Negro or Indian slaves, or trading with
them. Masters were required, when manumitting slaves, to furnish
security, as in the other colonies. Marriages between the races were
forbidden. Negroes were not allowed to be abroad after nine o'clock at
night.

In 1773 the Assembly passed "_An Act making perpetual the Act
entitled, An Act for laying a duty on negroes and mulatto slaves_,"
etc., and added ten pounds to the duty. The colonists did much to
check the vile and inhuman traffic; but, having once obtained a hold,
it did eat like a canker. It threw its dark shadow over personal and
collective interests, and poisoned the springs of human kindness in
many hearts. It was not alone hurtful to the slave: it transformed and
blackened character everywhere, and fascinated those who were anxious
for riches beyond the power of moral discernment. Here, however, as in
New Jersey, the Negro found the Quaker his practical friend; and his
upper and better life received the pruning advice, refining and
elevating influence, of a godly people. But intelligence in the slave
was an occasion of offending, and prepared him to realize his
deplorable situation. So to enlighten him was to excite in him a deep
desire for liberty, and, not unlikely, a feeling of revenge toward his
enslavers. So there was really danger in the method the guileless
Friends adopted to ameliorate the condition of the slaves.

When England began to breathe out threatenings against her
contumacious dependencies in North America, the people of Pennsylvania
began to reflect upon the probable outrages their Negroes would, in
all probability, commit. They inferred that the Negroes would be their
enemy because they were their slaves. This was the equitable findings
of a guilty conscience. They did not dare expect less than the
revengeful hate of the beings they had laid the yoke of bondage upon;
and verily they found themselves with "fears within, and fightings
without."


FOOTNOTES:

[509] Gordon's History of Penn., p. 114.

[510] Whittier's Penn. Pilgrim, p. viii.

[511] The memorial referred to was printed _in extenso_ in The Friend,
vol. xviii. No 16.

[512] Minutes of Yearly Meeting, Watson's MS. Coll. Bettle's notices
of N.S. Minutes, Penn. Hist. Soc.

[513] Colonial Rec., vol. i. pp. 598, 606. See also _Votes_ of
Assembly, vol. i. pp. 120-122.




CHAPTER XXV.

THE COLONY OF GEORGIA.

1732-1775.

GEORGIA ONCE INCLUDED IN THE TERRITORY OF CAROLINA. - THE
THIRTEENTH COLONY PLANTED IN NORTH AMERICA BY THE ENGLISH
GOVERNMENT. - SLAVES RULED OUT ALTOGETHER BY THE
TRUSTEES. - THE OPINION OF GEN. OGLETHORPE CONCERNING
SLAVERY. - LONG AND BITTER DISCUSSION IN REGARD TO THE
ADMISSION OF SLAVERY INTO THE COLONY. - SLAVERY
INTRODUCED. - HISTORY OF SLAVERY IN GEORGIA.


Georgia was once included in the territory of Carolina, and extended
from the Savannah to the St. John's River. A corporate body, under the
title of "The Trustees for establishing the Colony of Georgia," was
created by charter, bearing date of June 9, 1732. The life of their
trust was for the space of twenty-one years. The rules by which the
trustees sought to manage the infant were rather novel; but as a
discussion of them would be irrelevant, mention can be made only of
that part which related to slavery. Georgia was the last colony - the
thirteenth - planted in North America by the English government.
Special interest centred in it for several reasons, that will be
explained farther on.

The trustees ruled out slavery altogether. Gen. John Oglethorpe, a
brilliant young English officer of gentle blood, the first governor of
the colony, was identified with "the Royal African Company, which
alone had the right of planting forts and trading on the coast of
Africa." He said that "slavery is against the gospel, as well as the
fundamental law of England. We refused, as trustees, to make a law
permitting such a horrid crime." Another of the trustees, in a sermon
preached on Sunday, Feb. 17, 1734, at St. George's Church, Hanover
Square, London, declared, "Slavery, the misfortune, if not the
dishonor, of other plantations, is absolutely proscribed. Let avarice
defend it as it will, there is an honest reluctance in humanity
against buying and selling, and regarding those of our own species as
our wealth and possessions." Beautiful sentiments! Eloquent testimony
against the crime of the ages! At first blush the student of history
is apt to praise the sublime motives of the "trustees," in placing a
restriction against the slave-trade. But the declaration of principles
quoted above is not borne out by the facts of history. On this point
Dr. Stevens, the historian of Georgia, observes, "Yet in the official
publications of that body [the trustees], its inhibition is based only
on political and prudential, and not on humane and liberal grounds,
and even Oglethorpe owned a plantation and negroes near Parachucla in
South Carolina, about forty miles above Savannah."[514] To this
reliable opinion is added: -

"The introduction of slaves was prohibited to the colony of
Georgia for some years, not from motives of humanity, but
for the reason it was encouraged elsewhere, to wit: the
interest of the mother country. It was a favorite idea with
the 'mother country,' to make _Georgia_ a protecting blanket
for the Carolinas, against the Spanish settlements south of
her, and the principal Indian tribes to the west; to do
this, a strong settlement of white men was sought to be
built up, whose arms and interests would defend her northern
plantations. The introduction of slaves was held to be
unfavorable to this scheme, and hence its prohibition.
During the time of the prohibition, Oglethorpe himself was a
slave holder in Carolina."[515]

The reasons that led the trustees to prohibit slavery in the colony



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 36 of 57)