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Group Title: Thoughts upon the African slave trade : By John Newton
Title: Thoughts upon the African slave trade
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Title: Thoughts upon the African slave trade
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Newton, John
Publisher: J. Buckland and J. Johnson
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: 1788
Edition: Second
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Source Institution: University of Florida
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page i
        Page ii
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    Title Page
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Full Text
T H 0 U G H T S

'I T I




L Im


VTHI proft:, ffay, arjfg from thefale of
tbis pampf/t, are apprrQrited to the ufe of the
Sewrty, aHiLbed in Ldeuw, for tbe jfpport t
and encouragement of Sunday Scho/s, in tht
djfjrent counties of England.






MATT. vii. 12.
aJLt TltHit WHtAT30SyVKR I Y woUL ThAT M Is tiVLV 0O To towlf




I ----




T HE nature and cfTchs of that unhappy
and difgracceful branch of commerce,
which has long been maintained on the Coaft
of Africa, with the role, and profcllcd dcfign
of purchasing our fellow-creaturc;, in order
to fupply our Welt-India iIland!j and the Ame-
rican colonies, when they were ours, with
Slaves; is now generally underflood. So much
light has been thrown upon the fubjet, by
many able pens; and fo many refpcelable per-.
fons have already engaged to ufc their utinoft
influence, for the fuppreflion of a traffic, which
contradifs the feelings of humanity; that it
is hoped, this ftain of our National character
will foon bc wiped out.


If I attempt, after what has been done, to
throw my mite into the public flock of in-
formation, it is lefs from an apprehension that
my inicrference is neccc'ary, than from a con-
vidion, that filcnce, at fuch a time, and on
fi.h an ocLufion, would, in me, be criminal.
If my teflimnony should not be neccfiary, or
ferviccable, yet, perhaps, I am bound, in con-
fcicnce, to take f ame to myfelf by a public
confefion, which, however fincerc, comes too
late to prevent, or repair, the misery and miif-
chief to which I have, formerly, been accef-

I hope it will always be a fuhje6t of humi-
lilting reflcaiun to me, that I was, once, an
adtive inflrumeht, in a bufinefs at which my
heart now shudders. My headfipong paffions
and follies plunged me, in early life, into a
fucceflion of difficulties and hardships, which,
at length, reduced me to feek a refuge among
the Natives of Africa. There, for about the
face of eighteen months, I was in cffi&,
though without the name, a Captive and a
Slive inmyfelf; and was depreffld to the lowest
degree of human wretchednefs. Poflibly, I
should not have been fo completely miserable,
had I lived among the Natives, only, but it
was my lot to refide with white men; for at
that time, livcral perfuns of my own colour



and language were fettled upon that part of the
Windward coati, which lies between Sierra-
Leon and Cape Mount; for the purpose of
purchasing and collecting Slaves, to fell to the
vefils that arrived from Europe.

This is a hourn, from which few travellers
return, who have once detcrmined to venture
upon a temporary relidence there ; but thu
good providence of God, without my expec-
tation, and almoft against my will, delivered
me from thofe feenes of wickednefs and woe;
and I arrived at Liverpool in May 1748. I
foon revifited the place of my captivity, as
mate of a fhip, and, in the year 1750, I was
appointed commander, in which capacity I
made three voyages to the Windward Coaft,
for Slaves.

I firl ftaw the Coafl of Guinea, in the year
1745, and took my laft leave of it in 1754.
It was not, intentionally, a farewell ; but,
through the mercy of God, it proved fo. I
fitted out for a fourth voyage, and was upon
the point of failing, when I was arrefled by a
fudden illness, and I reigned the (hip to ano-
ther Captain.

Thus I was unexpectedly freed from this
difagrecablc fervicc. Difagrecabic I had lung
B 2 found


found it; but I think I should have quitted it
fooner, had I considered it, as I now do, to be
unlawful and wrong. But I never had a
fcruple upon this head, at the time ; nor was
fuch a thought once fuggefted to me, by any
friend. What I did. I did ignorantly.; confi-
dering it as the line of life which Divine Pro-
vidence had allotted me, and having no con..
cem, in point of confcience, but to treat the
Slaves, while under my care, with as much
humanity, as a regard to my own safety would

The experience and obfcervation of nine
years, would qualify mc for being a compe-
tent witnefs upon this fubject, could I flely
truft to the report of Memory, after an interval
of more than thirty-three years. But, in the
courfe of fo long a period, the ideas of pail
fcenes and tranfaalions, grow indiftin&; and
I am aware, that what I have fcen, and what
I have only heard related, may, by this time,
have become tb iifcnfibly blended together,
that, in fomc cafes, it may be difficult for me,
if not impofliblec, to dillinguifli them, with
absolute certainty. It is however, my earneft
defire, and will therefore engage my utmoft
care, that I may offer nothing in writing, as
from my own knowledge, Which I could not
chcarfully, if rcquifite, confirm upon oath.

That part of the African horse which lies
between the river Sierra-Leon, lat. 8. 30. N.
and Cape Palmias, is ufuaJly known by tii
name of the Windward, or Grain Coat. The
extent (if my recollection does not fail me) is
about one hundred and fifty leagues. There
is a fort upon Bence Illand, in Sierra-Leon,
which formerly belonged to the old African
Company : they allib hal a Jort in the river Sherbro but the former was in
private hands, and of the latter, fcarccly the
foundations were visible, when I firtl went to
Africa. There is no fort, or factory, upon
this coaft, under the fan6tion of our Govern-
ment j but there were, as I have tlid, and
probably fill are, private tuadci rolident at
Ben'ce Illand, at the liin:nocs, and at the
Plantancs. The fornwer of tlefe is about twclvye
and the latter twenty leagues, from Sierra-
Leon, to the South-Eall,

Bythefeperfons, the trade is carried on, in boats
and fhallops, thirty or forty leagues to the north-
ward, in several rivers lying within the floals
of Rio Grande. But the mull northerly place
of trade, for shipping, is Sierra-Leon, and the
bufincfs there, and in that neighbourhood, is
chiefly tranfadcd with the white men : but
from Sherbro to Cape Paltnas, dizc the

the natives. Though I have been on the Gold
Coaft, and beyond it as far as Cape Lopez, in
the latitude of one or two degrees South, I
profefs no knowledge of the African trade,
but as it was conducted on the Windward
Coaft, when I was concerned in it.

I am not qualified, and if I were, I should
think it rather unfuitable to my prefcnt cha.
rafter, as a Minifier of the Gofpel, to consider
the African Slave Trade, merely, in a politi-
cal light. This difquifltion more properly
belongs to persons In dvil life. Only thus
far, my character as a Miniflor will allow, and
perhaps require me, to obfcrve; that the heft
Human Policy, is that, which is conne&ed with
a reverential regard to Almighty God, the Su-
premeGovernorof the Earth. Every plan, which
aims at the welfare of a nation, in defiance of
his authority and laws, however apparently
wife, will prove to be cifentially defedive,
and, if perfifled in, ruinous. The Righteous
Lord loveth Rightcouhnefs, and He has en-
gaged to plead the caufc, and vindicate the
wrongs, of the oppreffed. It is Righteoufnefs
that cxalteth a nation s and Wickednefs is the
prefent .reproach, and will, fooner or later,
unkfs repentance intcrvwne, prove the ruin of
any people.



Perhaps what I have faid of myfelf, may
be applicable to the nation at large. The
Slave Trade was always unjuftifiable; but in-
attention and interest prevented, for a time,
the evil from being perceived. It is otherwise
at prefent; the mifchiefs and evils, connected
with it, have becn, of late years, rcprefented
with fuch undeniable evidence, and arc now
fo generally known, that I fuppole there is
hardly an objetion can be made, to the wifih
of thouthnds, perhaps of millions, for the
fuppreflion of this Trade, but upon the ground
of political expedience.

Though I wereeven furc.thataprincipal branch
of thopublic revenue depended upon the African
Trade, (which, I apprehend, is ftr from being
the cafe,) if I had access and influence, I should
think myfelf bound to tly to Government, to
Parliament, and to the Nation, It is not
" lawful to put it into the Treafury, becaulc
" it is the price of blood*."

I account an intelligent Farmer to be a good
Politician, in this fcenfc; that, if he has a
large heap of good corn, he will not put a
fmall quantity, that is damaged, to the reft,
for the fake of encreafing the heap. He knows

0 Matt. xxvii. 6.

thit fuch an addition would fpoil the whole.
Gud forbid, that any fuppofed profit or ad-
vantage, which we can derive from the groans
and agonlies, and blood of the poor Africans,
flhould draw down his heavy cure, upon all
that we might, othcrwife, honourably and
comfortably p6tdefs.

For the fike of Method, I could witfl to
consider the African Tradc,-Firft, with regard
to the efdctts it has upon our own peopleA and
Secondly, is it concerns the Blacks, or, as
they are more contemptuously flyled, "the
"Negroe Slaves, whom we purchafc upon the
Comtf. But there two topics, are to inter-
woven together, that it will not be eafy to
keep them exaCtly separate.

i. The firft point I hall mention is purely
of political importance, if the lives of our
fellow- fibjctIs be fo; and if a rapid lofs of
Seamen deserves the attention of a martiime
people. This lots, in the African Trade, is
truly alarmiug. I admit, that many of them
are cut off in their firft voyage, and, confc-
qteicntly, before they can properly rank as Sea-
i:ni 5 though they would have been Seamen,
. if they had lived. But the neighbourhood of
our fea-ports is continually drained, of mnc
and buys, to fulpply the places of thofe who



die abroad, and if they are not all Scamen,
they are all our brethren and countrymen,
fubjefs of the Britifh Government.

The people who remain, on fhip-board,
upon the open coat, if not accuftomed to the
climate, are liable to the attacli of an inflam-
matory fever, which is not often fartal, unlcfs
the concurrence of uniLv lourrbt)l circumflanceO
makes it fb. When this danger is over, I
think they might, probably, be as healthy
as in moft other voyages; provided, they
could be kept from fleeping in the dews, from
being much expofed to the rain, from the in-
temperate ufe of fpirits, and tfpecially from

But, confidering the general difpofition of
our Sailors, and the nature of the Slave Trade,
thefe provifos are of little mor significance,
than if I should fay, upon another occasion,
that Great-Britain would be a happy country,
provided, all the inhabitants were Wife, and
Good. The Sailors mu/I be much expofed to
the weather; cfpecially on the Windward
Coaft, where a great part of the cargo is pro-
cured by boats, which are often font to the
diflancec of thirty or forty leagues, and are
fometimcs a month before they return. Many
vcffels arrive upon the coaft, before the rainy.
C feafon,

feafon, which continues from about May to
O lohier, is over; and if trade be fcarce, the
(hips which arrive in the fair, or dry Teafon,
often remain ill thle rnis return, before they
can comjIlte their purchase. A proper
shelter Irom the weather, in an open boat,
\vwhen the rain is inceffant night and day, for
weeks and months, is impraIicable.

I have myfelf, in fich a boat, been five or
fix days together, without, as we fay, a
dry thread about me, ficeping or waking. And
during the fair flafon, To 0na . or violent
fAorm utf wind, thunder, and heavy rain, are
vary frequent, though they feldom latl long.
In fadt, the boats feldom return, without
bringing fome of the people ill of dangerous
fevers or fluxes, occafioned either by the wea-
ther, or by unwholfome diet, fuch as the
crude fruits and palm wine, with which they
arc plentifully fupplied by the natives.

Strong liquors, fuch as braudy, rum, or
English fpirits, the Sailors cannot often pro-
cure, in fiuch quantities as to hurt them; but
they will, if they can; and opportunities
fointimes offer, especially to thofe who are
in thec boats; for ftrong liquor being an article
nuick in demanaift, fo that, without it, fcarccly
a Jingle Slave can be purchased, it is always t


hand. And if what is taken from the calks
or bottles, that are for fale, be supplied with
water, they are as full as they were before.
The Blacks who buy the liquor, are the
lofers by the adulreration; but often the
people, who cheat them, are the greatcil fiuf-

The article of Women, likewife, contributes
largely to the lu4i of our Sea tena. When they
are on fhore they often, from their known,
thoughtlefs imprudence, involve themselves,
on this account, in quarrels with the Natives,
and, if not killed upon the ipot, are frequently
polfoned. On ihip-board, thiley may be rc-
ftrained, and in fonm ( Ihips they arc ; but fuch
reraint is tartr f lin brifg general. It depends
much upon the dipoliiion, ;ntdl ;rrention, of
the Captain. Wh\.nIt I as in the trade, I
knew federal comm nders of Alfican thips,
who were prudent, refpedable men, and who
maintained a proper discipline and regularity
in their veffels; but there were too many of a
different charader. In fume (hips, perhaps in
the moil, tihe licenfe allowed, in this parti-
cular, was almoult utlimitcd. Moral tur pitude
was feldomn confuiired, but they who took care
to do the ihip's buhinefi, might, in other re-
fpeds, do what they pleaded. Thefe exceflls,
if they do not induce fevers, at leaft, render the
C 2 conflitutICi


couflitution lefs able to support them; and
fewdnefs, too frequently, tccrminat in death.

The rifk of itfirurrcni ,,s- is to be added.
There, I llirvr, are alw.ay. tnoditated; for
the Men Slaves aic not, caily, reconciled to
their cnfinement, and treat- M ,urnt ; and if at-
tempted, they are fcldum tn iirl;I l without
considerable lofs; and tomltimc- tlhey fuccecd,
to the defiruaion of a whole ihip's company
at once. Seldom a year paflis, but we hear
of one or more fich cataflroqIhes: and we
likewifc bear, fometimes, of Whites and Blacks
involved, in one moment, in one common
ruin, by the gunpowder taking fire, and blow.
ing up the (hip,

How far the several caufes, I have enume-
rated,. may refpetively operate, I cannot fay l
the fa& however is fure, that a great number
of our Seamen perifh in rhe Slave Trade. Few
(hips, comparatively, are cither blown up, or
totally cut oTff but fome tre. Of the reft, I
have known fome that have loft half their
people, and fome a larger proportion I am
far from saying, that it is always, or even
often, thus; but, 1 believe, I hall late the
matter sufficiently low, if I fuppofc, that, at
left, 'one fifth part of thofe who go frorp
England to the Coaft of Africa, in (hips which


trade for Slaves, never return from thence.
I dare not depend too much, upon my memory,
as to the number of fliips, and men, employed
in the Slave Trade more than thirty years ago;
nor do I know what has been the fate of the
trade fince; therefore I hall not attempt to
make calculations. But, as I cannot but form
fume opinion upon tht fubjec&, I judge it pro-
bable, that the colklelive rumn of Seamen,
who go, from all our ports, to Africa, within
the courfe of a year, (taking Guinea in "the
extenfive fenfe, from Goree or Gambia, and
including the coaft of Angola,) cannot be lefs
than eight thoufand; and if, upon an average
of fhips and feafons, a fifth part of thefe die,
the annual lofs is fifteen hundred. I believe
tlofc, who have taken pains to make more
exa&t enquiries, will deem my fuppofition to
be very moderate.

Thus much concerning the firft evil, the
Lofs of Seamen and Subjects, which the na-
tion fuftains, by the African Slave Trade.

2. There is a second, which either is, or
ought to be deemed of importance, considered
in a political light. I mean, the dreadful ef-
feCs of this trade, upon the minds of thofe
who are engaged in it. There are, doubtlefs,
exceptions, and I would, willingly, except



myfelf. But, in general, I know of no me-
thod of getting money, not evrn that of rob-
bery, for it, upon the hi;hwa.iy, which has a
more dircs' tendency to rffu e the mornr fcnie,
to rlh the lc irt of every grtlc i nd humansW
difpolition, anld to hardrn it. lke icrcl, agaIfn
all iniprflions of fcnibility.

Ufually, about two-thirds of cvirgo of
Slaves are males. When a hundred 1t fifty'
or two hundred flout men, torn from their
nntivc land, many of whom never tnaw the fe,
mu l left a fhip, till a Ihort ipacc before they
arc embarked; who have, probably, the tame
natural prejudice against a white m:an, as we
bave againfl a black; and who often bring with
them an apprehension that they are bought to
be eaten: I fay, when thus circumfianced, it
is not to be expected that they will, tamely,
reign themselves to their fituation. It is al-
ways taken for granted, that they will attempt
to gain their liberty, if pofible. Accordingly,
as we dare not trull them, we receive them on
board, from the firil, as enemies: and before
their number exceeds, perhaps, ten or fifteen,
they are all put in irons; in moft fhips, two
and two together. And frequently, they are
not thas confined, as they might, moft conve-
niently, f(and or move, the right hand and
foot of one to the left of the other; but across,'



tlhit is, the hand and foot of each on the falic
fide, whether right or left, are fettered togc.
their: "o that they cannot move, either hand
or foot, but with great caution, and with per-
fedt content. Thus they muft fit, walk and
lie, for many months, (fomnetimes for nine ur
ten,) without any mitigation or relief, unle&t
they are lick.

In the night they are confined below, in
the day-time (if the weather be fine) they are
upon deck; and as they are brought up, by
pairs, a chain is put through a ring upon their
irons, and this is likewifc locked down to the
ring-bolts, which are fallencd at certain in.,
tcryals upon the deck. 'lThc, and other pre-
cautions, arc no mure th11411n ccelTry; cfpe-
cially, as while the number of Slaves in-
creaifes, that of the people, who are to guard
them, is diminished, tby fickncf uor death, or
by being abfent in the boats: lb that, fome-
times, not ten men can be mutleted, to watch,
night and day, over two hundred, besides
having all the other bufincfs of the fhip td

That thcfc precautions arc to often effc&ual,
is much more to be wondered at, than that
they sometimes fail. One unguarded hour,
or minute, is fufficient to give the Slaves the


opportunity they are always waiting for. An
attcmnpt to rife upon the fhip's company,
brings on inflantaneons and horrid war; for,
when they are once in motion, they are
defpcratc; and where they do not conquer,
they are feldom quelled without much mif-
chief and blood-flied, on both fides.

Sometimes, when the Slaves are ripe for an
infurre&fion, one of them will impeach the
affair; and then ncceflity, and the fate policy,
of there (mall, but mtoft absolute govern-
ments, enforce maxims directly contrary to
the nature of things. The traitor to the
caufe of liberty is careffed, rewarded, and
deemed an honeft fellow. The patriots, who
formed and animated the plan, if they can be
found out, mufft be treated as villains, and
puniflied, to intimidate the reft. There pu-
nifhments, in their nature and degree, depend
upon the fovercign will of the Captain. Some
are content with infli&ing fuch moderate puo
nifhmcnt, as may fuflicc for an example. But
unlimited power, instigated by revenge, and
where the heart, by a long familiarity with
the fufferings of Slaves, is become callous,
and inienfible to the pleadings of humanity,
is terrible.
I have


I have lren them sentenced to unmerciful
whippings, continued till the poor creatures
have not had power to groan under their
miifery, and hardly a fign of life has remained.
I have fcen them agonizing for hours, I be-
lieve for days together, urrder the torture of
the thumb-fcrews; a dreadful engine, which,
if the fcrew be turned by at unrelenting hand,
can give intolerable anguifh. There have
been inflances in which cruelty has proceeded
fill further; but, as I hope they are few, and
I can mention but one, from my own know-
ledge, I fall but mention it.

I have often heard a Captain, who has been
long fiance dead, boaSt of his conduct in a
forn"er voyage, when his Slaves attempted to
rife upon him. After he had fuppretfed the
infurreCtion, he tat in judgment upon the in-
furgents.; and not only, in cold blood, ad-
judged Teveral of them, .I know not how
many, to die, but fludied, with no fmall
attention, how to.make death as excruciating
to them as poflible. For my reader's fake, I
fupprefs the recital of particulars.

Surely, it muft be allowed, that they who
are long convcrfant with fuch fccnes as thcfe,
are liable to imbibe a fpirit of ferocidoufncs,
and savage infenfibility, of which human nsL-
D ture,


ture, deprived as it is, is not, ordinarily, ca-
pable. If thie things he true, the reader
will admit the I1ollihility i, a ( 1, that was in
current rcpuos wlht I I ., upun the coaft,
and the truithli u which, thUghl I cannot now
authenticate it, I have no realun to doubt.

A Mate of a (hflip, i a long boat, purchased
a young woman, with a fine child, of about a
year old, in- her arms. In the night, the
child cried much, and disturbed his fleep. He
rofe up in great anger, and wore, that if the
child did not cecam making fuch a noifc, he
would prcfcntly (llence it. The child conti-
nued to cry. At length he rofc up a second
time, tore the child from the mother, and
threw it into the fea. The child was loon
filenced indeed, but it was not fo eafy to
pacify the woman: tfhe was too valuable to be
thrown overboard, and he was.obliged to bear
the found of her lanmentations, till he could
put her on board his (hip.

I am perfiiadcd, that every tender mother,
who feafts her eyes 'and her imnind, when flhe
contemplates The infant in her arms, will com-
miferate the poor Africans.-But why do I
fpieak of one child, when we have heard and
read a melancholy flory, too notoriously true
to admit of contradi&dion, of more than a

hundred grown flaves, thrown into the fci, at
one time, from on board a tliip, when frctfl
water was fcarce; to fix the lofs upon the
Underwriters, which other wife, had they died
on board, muft havc flkln upon the Owners of
the veffel*. Thclt inflanccs are fpecimens of
the spirit produced, by the African Trade, in
men, who, once, were no more deftitute of
the milk of human kiUdnefN, than ourlelves.

Hitherto, I have considered the condition of
the Men Slaves only. From the -Women,
there is no danger of infurredion, and they
are carefully kept from the men; I mean,
from the Black menti. But- I what I have
to offer, on this head, I am far front including
every fhip. I fpeak not of what is univerillly,
but of wh it is too commonly, and, I am afraid,
too generally prevalent.

I have already observed, that the Captain of
an African ffiip, while upon the coaft, is abob-
lute in his command; and if he be humane,
vigilant, and determined, he has it in his
power to protc&t the tnifcrable; for kiarcely
any thing can be done, on bird the' ihip,
There was a trial upon the car, alluded to at Guildhall.
My information was only from the public papers. If, as ]
have heard, the affair was mif-flited, I hall beforry to have
givt any countenance to a fLdfe portr.
D 2 without

without his permiffion, or connivance. But
this power is, too tfldom, ecrtced in favour of
the poor WVumcn Slavc..

XrlWhen c hear of a toIn itkran by form,
and given up to the rnava.igt It .inl eragcd and
licn'tioul ni my, of wild inkl uilnprincipled
* Cofacks, pcrhups no part o1 thie ilit dlc affe6ts
a feeling mind more, than the trcatinent to
which the Women are txpofeit. Hut the
enormities frequently committed, in an Afi ican
fhip, thuqtla equally flagrant, arc little known
here, and are confidorcd, tIere, only as matters
of courfe. When the Women and Girls are
taken on bard a thip, naked, trembling, ter-
rifie4, perhaps almnoft cxhaullcd with cold,
fatigue and hunger, they are often exposed to
the wanton rudencfs of white Savages. The
poor creatures cannot underftand the language
they hear, but the looks and manner of the
fpeakcrs, are fuiticiLntly intelligible. In imam.
gination, the prey is divided, upon the fpot,
and only referred till opportunity offers.
Where rehfiance, or rcfufal, would be utterly
in vain, even the follicitation of content is
feldom thought of. But I forbear.-This is
not a fubjett for declamation. Fa&s like
thc(c, to certain, and fo numerous, fpeak for
themselves, Surely, if the advocates for

the Slave Trade attempt to plead for it, be.,
fore the Wives ,and Daughters of our happy
land, or before thofe who have Wives or
Daughters of their own, they muft lofe their

Perhaps fome hard hearted pleader may
fuggeff, that liuch treatment would indeed be
cruel, in Europe ; but the African Women are
Negroes, Savages, who have no idea of the nicer:
feniation, which obtain among civilized people.
I dare contradia them in the ftrongeff terms.
I have lived long, and converted much,
amongft there fuippofd Savages. I have often
flept in their towns, ir a houfe filled with
goods for trade, with no pcrfon in tlhehoufe
but myiUlf, and with no other door than a
mat ~ in that security, which no man in
his fenfes would expect, in thiR civilized
nation, especially in this metropolis, with-
out the precaution of having strong doors,
strongly locked and bolted. And with re-
gard to the women, in Sherbro, where I
was mall acquainted, I have feen many
inflances of modefly, and even delicacy,
which would not difgrace an Englifh woman.
Yet, fuch is the treatment which I have known
permitted, if not encouraged, in many of our
fliips--they have been abandoned, without
refrain t,

reftraint, to the lawlcfs will of the firft

Accuflomed thus to dcipili', infuir, and in.
jure the Slavces o board, it tmy he expc~ed
that the conduct of of miay of our p'oplc to the
Natives, with whom they trbce, il jr I fr as
circumftances admit, very fimilir ; and it is
fo. They are confidercd as a peopic t1j be
robbed and fpoiled, with impunity. Every
art is employed to deceive, and wrong them.
And he who h.wi mofl address, in this way,
has moll to oaft of.

F Not an article, that is capable of diminu-
tion or adulteration, is delivered genuine, or
entire. The fpirits are lowered by water.
Falfe heads are put into the kegs that contain
the gunpowder; fo that, though the keg ap-
pears large, there is no more powder in it,
than in a much fialler. The linen and cotton
cloths are opened, and two or three yards,
according to the length of the piece, cut off,
not from the end, but out of the middle,
where it is not fo readily noticed.

The Natives are cheated, in the number,
weight, meafure, or quality, of what they
pu tchafe,


purchafe, in every poulible wvy. And, by
habit and emulation, a marvcllout dexterity is
acquired in the(i pradiices. And thus the
Natives, in their turn, in proportion to their
commerce with the Europeans, and (1 am
Lorry to add) particularly with the Englifh,
become jealous, infidious, and revengeful.

They know with whom they deal, and are
accordingly prepared ;-though they can trul:
fome hips and boats, which have treated theri
with pun6tuality, and may be trufted by them.
A quarrel, fomctimes, furnifles pretext for
detaining, and carrying away, one or more of
the Natives, .which is retaliated, if pradicable,
upon the next boat that conies to the place,
from the ihmc port. For bo fur their vindiCtive
temper is rellrained by their idcas of juftice,
that they will not, often, revenge an injury
received from a Liverpool flip, upon one be-
longing to Briftol or Lundon.

They will, ufuially, wait with patience, the
arrival of one, which they fuppofi., by her
failing from the fame place, has Come connec-
tion with that which ufcd them ill; and they
are to quick at diflinguilhing our little lotal
differences of language, and customs in a hip,
that before they have been in a Thip five mi-



nutet, and often before they come on board,
they know, with certainty, whether flhe b
from Briflol, Liverpool, or London.

Retaliation on their parts, furniffics a plea
for reprizal on ours. Thus, in one place or
another, trade is often fufpended, all inter-
courfe cut off, and things are in a ftate of war;
till neceffity, either on the flip's part, or on
theirs, produces overtures of peace, and dic-
tates the price, which the offending party muft
pay for it. But it is a warlike peace. We
trade under arms and they are furnithed with
long knives.

For, with a few exceptions, the Engliflh
and the Africans, reciprocally, consider each
other as confummate villains, who are always
watching opportunities to do mifehief. In
fort, we have, I fear too defervedly, a very
unfavourable character upon the Coaft. When
I have charged a Black with unfairnefs and
difhonefly, he has anfwered, if able to clear
himself, with an air of ditilain, What I do
" you think I am a White Man ?"

Such is the nature, fuch are'the concomi-
tants, of the Slave Trade; and fuch is the
school in which many thousands of our,.k icn
3 are



are brought up. Can we then wonder at that
impatience of fubordination, and that difpo-
fition to mutiny, amongft them, which has
been, of late, fo loudly complained of, and Ib
severely felt ? Will not found policy fuggcf1
the neceffity of fome expedient here? Or can
found policy fuggeft any, effletual, expedient,
but the total uiapprellion of a Trade, which,
like a poifonous root, dithufcs its malignity into
every branch ?

The effects which our trade has upon the
Blacks, thofe especially who come under our
power, may be confidercd under three heads,
-How they are acquired ? The mortality they
are fubjc' to ? and, How thole who firvivc
arc difpoIfd of?

I confine my remarks on the ifir head to
the Windward Coaft, and can Ipcak moft con-
lidently of the trade in Shcerbro, where I lived.
I own, however, that I question, if any part of
the Windward Coaft is equal to Sherbro, in
point of regularity and government. They
have no meni of great power or property
among them ; as I am told there arc upon the
Gold Coaft, at Wlhidah and Benin. The
lihcrbro people live much in the patriarchal
way. An old man utiahlly presides in caclh
E town,


town, whofe authority depends more on his
years, than on his poffefliohs: and He, who
is called the King, is not eafily diftinguifhed,
either by ftnte or wealth, from the reft. But
the ditTFrrnt diflritfs, which feem to be, ih
many rrflpets, independent of each other, are
incotporntcd, and united, by means of an in-
flitution which pervades them all, and is called
The Pnrrow. The perfons of this order, who
are very numerous, feem, very much, to rc
cmniblk the )Druids, who once prefided in our

Thle P rrow lhas both tho kgiflative and
executive authority, and, under their fnn&ion,
thler is a police exercised, which is by no
means contemptible. Every thing belonging
to the Purrow is myflerious and severe, but,
upon the whole, it has very good effects; and
as any man, whether bond or free, who will
submit to be initiated into their mysteries, may
be admitted of the Order, it is a kind of
Common-wealthi. And, perhaps, few people
enjoy more, simple, political freedom, than the
inhabitants of Sherbro, belonging to the:Pur-
rvro, (who are not flaves,) further than they
are bound by their own inflitutions. Private
property is tolerably well fecured, and violence
is imuchl luppreflCd.


The fate of Slavery, among thefo wild bar-
barous people, as we efleem them, is much
milder than in our colonies. For as, on tha
one hand, they have no land in high cultiva-
ton, like our Wet.-India plantations, and
therefore no call for that exceffivc, unintcr-
mitted labour, which exhaufts our Slaves; fo,
on the other hand, Jo man is permitted to
draw blood, even from a Slave. If he does,
he is liable to a firitd inIquiition; for the
Purrow laws will not allow a private indivi-
dual to fhod blood. A man may fell his flave,
if he plevfes; but he may not wantonly abufe
him. the laws likewife punith fome species
6f theft, with flavery; and in cafcs of adul.
tery, which are very common, a polygamy is
the cuflom of the country, both the woman
and the main who oldends with her, are liable
to be fold for Slaves, unless they can fatisfy
the hatfl.d, or unlefs they are redeemed by
their friends.

Among thefe unenlightened Blacks, it is a
general maxim, that if a man fteals, or breaks
t moveable, as a muflcet, for inflance, the of-
fence may be nearly compensated, by putting
another mulket in its place; but offences,
which cannot be repaired in kind, as adultery,
admit of no fatiJatlion, till the injured perfon
E z declares,


declares, that He is fitisficd. So that, if a
rich man feduces the wife of a poor man, he
has it in his power to change places with lfin;
for he ma:y ,end flr every article in his boufti
one by one, till ho fays, I have enougheA4
The only altertiativc, is perfbnal slavery.

I fuppofe, bribery and influence may have
their effects in Guinea, as they liavc in fome
other countries; but their laws, in the main,
arc wife and good, and, upon the whole, they
have considerable operation t and therefore, I
believe, maiy of the Slaves purcqafed in
sihcrbro, and probably upon the whole Windi
ward Coaft, are convicts, who have forfeited
their liberty, by breaking the laws of their
0ount ry.

But, I apprehend, that the neighbourhood
of our flhips, and the defire of our goods, are
motives, which often pufh the rigor of the
laws to an extreme, which would not be ex-
acted, if they were left to thcmfClves.

But Slaves are the ftaple article of the traffic;
and though a considerable number may have
been born near. the fea, I believe the bulk of
them are brought from far. I havereafon to
think, that iome travel more than a thousand

miles, before they reach the fea coati. WVhe.
ther there may be convicts among thee likc-
wife, or what proportion they may bear to
thofe .who are taken prifoners in war, it is
impoffible to know.

I judge, the principal force of the Slave
Trade, is, the wars which prevail among the
Natives. Sometimes, thefe wars break out
between thofe who live near the fea. The
English, and other Europeans, have been
charged with fomenting them; I believe
(fo far as concerns the Windward Coaft) un-
juflly. That fome would do it, if they could,
I doubt not; but I do not think they can have
opportunity. Nor is it needful they should
interfere. ThouCands, in our ownv country,
with for war, because they fatten upon its

.1Human nature is much the fame in every
place, and few people will be willing to allow,
that the Negroe in Africa are better than them-
felves. Suppofing, therefore, they wifh for
European goods, may not they wi(h to pur-
chafe them from a fhip *juft arrived? Of
course, they muft wifh for Slaves to go to
market with; and if they have not Slaves,
and think thcmfclves firong enough' to invade

their neighbours, they will probably with fon
war.-And if once they with for it, how eafy'
is it to find, or make, prtc ts for breaking an
inconvenient peace; or (after the example W.
greater hcrocA, of Chr('iftli name) to maakt
dcprttdatio,!as, without conidcfccnding to aflign
anv rcafons.

I verily beteve, that the far greater part of
the wars, in Africa, would ceafe; if the Eu-w
ropeans would cafe to tempt them, by offitr.
ing good for Slaves. And though they do
not bring legions into the field, their ware are
bloody. I believe, the captives referred br
fale, are fewer than the flain.

I have not sufficient data to warant calculaa
fion, but, I fuppofe, not letfs than one.hundred
thoufand Slaves are exported, annually, from
all parts of Africa, and that more than one
half, of thefe, are exported in Englifh bottoms.

If but an equal number are killed in war,
mid if many of thefe wars are kindled by
the incentive of felling their prisoners, what
an mtnual accumUlation of blood muft there
be, crying against the nations of Europe con-
cerned in this trade, and particularly against
our own!
8 I have,

1 have, often, been gravely told, as a proof
that the Africans, however hardly treated,
deforve but little compaffion, that they are a
people fo dcflitrte of natural affefion, that it
is common, among them, for parents to fell
their childrnci, and children their parents.
And, I think, a charge, of this kind, is
brought against ihem, by the rcfpe&able au-
thor of Speelacd de Ia Nature. But lie muft
have been mitinfoirmed. I never heard of one
instance of either, while I ufed the Coalt.

One article more, upon this head, is Kid-
,napping, or dealing free people. Some people
fuppofe, that the Ship Trade is rather the
dealing, than tho buying of Slaves. But
there is enough to Jay to the charge of the
thips, without accufumg them falTily. The
flaves, in general, ,are bought, and paid for.
Sometimes, when goods are lent, or trufled
.on hore, the trader voluntarily leaves a free
person, perhaps his own fon, as a hoftage, or
pawn, for the payment; and, in cafe of de-
fault, the hoftage is carried off, and fold;
which, however hard upon him, being in
confequence of a free flipulation, cannot be
deemed unfair. There have been inflances of
unprincipled Captains, who. at the clofe of
what they fuppofed their laft voyage, a)d


when they had no intention of revifiting the
Coaft, have detained, and carried away, free
people with them ; and left tho next Nhip,
that shouldd come from the fume port, to rik
the colnflqucnces. But ithc nations, I hope,
and believe, arc not common.

With regard to the Natives, to Hteal a free
man or woman, and to fell them on board a
Ihip, would, I think, be a more difficult, and
more dangerous attempt, in Sherbro, than in
London. But 1 have no doubt, that the
traders who come, from the interior parts of
Africa, at a great distance, find opportunity,
in the courlfe of their journey, to pick up
firagglers, whom they may meet in their way.
This branch of oppreffion, and robbery,
would Jikewife fail, if the temptation to it
were removed.

I have, to the bell of my knowledge,
pointed out the principal fourccs, of that im-
mcnfe fupply of Slaves, which furniflfes to
large an exportation every year. If all that
are taken on board the flips, were to furvive
tle voyage, and be landed in good order, pof-
libly the Englith, French, and Dutch islands,
and colonies, would be foon overflocked, and
ftwer lhips would uaii to the Coalt. But a


larp iabaltment muft be made for mortnllty.
--Aftcr what I have already faid of their treaty
mtnlt, I ball now, that I am again to confidcr
them on board the (hips, confine myfelf to
this point.

In the Portngitcfie fhips, which trade from
Brafll to the Gold C-oA)tL and Angola, I believe,
a heavy mortality iv not frequent. The
Staves have room, they uer not put in irors,
([ fpcak from information only,) atnd arc hu-
inanely treated.

With our hips, the great objeL i., to be
fall. When the Ilip is there, it is thought
dcmrable, ihe flithuld take tt many us pflibtle.
The cargo of veftel of a liundrnd tons, or
little more, is c.dculattcd to purchafc from
two hundred and twenty to two hundred and
fifty Slaves. Their lodging-rooms belov the
deck, which are three, (for the men, the
boys, and the women,) besides a place for the
lick, are sometimes more than five t'ct high,
and fometimws lef ; and this height is divided
towards the middle, for the Slavcs lie in twd
rows, one above the other, on each fide of
the (hip, clok to each other, like books
upon a fhelf. I have known them clcfe,
F that

that the fhelf would not, cafily, contain onte

And I have known a white man fint down,
among the men, to lay them in there rowg4
to the greateli advantage, 11i that as little
fpacc as pollible miglit be loft. Let it bhe
obfervcd, that the poor creatures, thus
cramped for want of room, arc likcwifc in
irons, for the molt part both hands and feet,
and two together, which niaks it difficult
for them to turn or move, to attempt either
to rife or to lie down, without hurting them-
fclvcs, or cach other. Nor is the motion of
the fhip, cfpccially luhC heIing, or (loop on
one fide, when under fail, to bL omitted; for
this, as they lie athwart, or acrolk the (hip,
adds to the uncomfortablencfs of their lodging,
especially to thofe who lic on the leeward, ur
leaning, fide of the velcl.
Dirc is die tofiing, ditp the groin..---

The heat and the finell of thefr rooms,
when the weather will not admit of the.Slaves
being brought upon deck, and of having
their rooms cleaned every, day, would be, al-
moft, Infupportable, to a perfon not atLtu.>
4 tonecd


toned to them. If the Slaves and their rooms
can he conflantly aired, and thly are not de-
taincd too long on board, perhaps there are
not many die; hut the contrary is often their
lot. They are kept down, by the weather, to
breathe a hot andi corrupted air, sometimes
for a week : this, added to the galling of their
irons, and the deCpondency which Ifizes their
fpirits, when thus confined, (bon becomes
fatal. And every morning, perhaps, more
instances than one are found, of the
living and the dead, like the Captives of
Mczentius, faftened together.

Epidemical fevers and fluxes, which fill
the h]lip with noifom andti noxious cfftlvia,
often break out, infte< the SCamen likewife,
and the Oppraflbrs, and the Opprcld, (.ill by
the flme stroke I believe, nearly one half of
the Slaves on board, have, fbmetimcs, died;
and that the lofs of a third part, in thefe cir-
cumftances, is not unusual. The Ihip, in
which I was Mate, left the Coaft with Two
Hundred and Eighteen Slaves on bo.trd; and
though we were not much atfreted by epide-
mical dilbrdcrs, I find, by my journal of that
voyage, (now before me,) that we buried
ixty-twq on our parage to South-Carolina,
4 F a exclifivf;


excltiive of thofe which died before we left
the Co.:t, of which I have no account .

I believe, upon an average between the
more healthy, and the more fickly voyagesr
ind including all contingencies, One Pburth
of the whole purchlfal may be allotted to the
article of Mortality. That is, if the Englith
flips purchase Sixty Tfoufpnd Slaves annually,
upon the whole extent of the Coaft, the an.
nitl lofs of lives cannot be much lefs than
F7ifteen 7oufand.

I am now to fpeak of tlic furvivors.-aWhcn
the hips make the land, (ufually the Weft.
India iflands,) and have their port in view,
after having been four, five, fix weeks, or a
longer time, at fea, (which depends much
upon the time that pafies before they can get
into the permanent Trade Winds, which blow
from the North-Eaft and Eaft acrofs the At-
lantic,) tlien, and not before, the-y venture to
relcalb the Men Slives from their irons. And
then, the light of the land, and their freedom
from Ibng and painful confinement, uftally
excite in them a degree of alacrity, and a
trainftent feeling of joy
The prlfoncr caps to loft lis chains.
1B t,


fur, this joy is fliort-lived indeed. The
condition of the unhappy Slaves is in a conti-
nual progrefs from bad to worfe. Their cafe
is truly pitiable, from the moment they are
in a late of flavery, in their- own country;
but it may be deemed a fate of cafe and li-
berty, compared with their situation on board
our Ihips.

Yet, perhaps, they would will to fpend
the remainder of their days on thip-board,
could they know, before-hand, the nature of
the fervitude which awaits them, on fhore;
and that the dreadful hardfhips and fuffcrings
they have already endured, would, to the molt
of them, only terminate in excexlivc toil,
hunger, and the excruciating tortureR of the
cart-whip, inflicted at the caprice of an un-
feeling Ovcrfecr, proud of the power allowed
him of punifhing whom, and when, and how
he pleafes.

I hope the Slaves, in our iflands, arc better
treated now, than they were, at the time
when I was in the trade. And even then, I
know, there were Slaves, who, under the care
and protection of humane matters, were, com-
paratively, happy. But I law and heard
enou h



enough to fatisfy me, that their condition, iAm
general, was wretched to the extreme. How-
ever, my ity in Anititta und St. Chriflopher's
(the only illinds I visited) wai too (fort, to
qualify me fror saying match, from my own
certain knowledge, ispo Nor is it needful --Knough h.! liren oftTred
by fiveral refpctable writer, who have had
opportunity of collcding furer, and fuller in-

One tiling I canjInot omit, which was told
me by the (Ocodlmn.in to whom my fhip was
conligned, at Antig..i, in the year 175r,
and who was, hitm EiL, a Planier. lIe liid,
that calculations had been made, with all
poflible exactnefs, to determine which was
the preferable, that is, the more living me-
thod of managing blaves:--

Whether, to appoint them moderate
work, pleity of proviflion, and fuch
treatment, as mihLt enable them to
protraLt their lives to old age ?" Or,
3 By rigoroufly training their strength to
the utmoft, with little relaxation,
hard fare, and hard ufage, to wear
F' them out before they became ufelefs,
$9 and


aund unable to du fIrvicc and then,
to buy new oncs, to fill up their
* places?"

He farther faid, that thefe fikilful calcu-
lators bad determined in favour of the latter
mode, as much the chClwapcr; and that lie
could mention kfvcral cdtates, in the island of
Antigua, on which, it was feldom known,
that a Slave had lived above nine ycars.---
Ex pede Hercu/lem

When the Slaves are landed for fale, (for In
the Leeward lLands thcy are usually fold on
fhorc,) it may happen, that after a long fe-
pamtnion in dlffircnt part ol the 1hip, when
they arc brought together in one place, fomc,
who ar# nearly related, may recognize each
other. If, upon fuch a metiing, pIculur
tfliould be felt, it can be but momentary.
The lilde difperfes them wide, to ditierent
parts of the island, or to different iflands.
Husbands and Wives, Parents and Children,
Brothers and Siters, muft suddenly part again,
probably to meet no more.

After a careful perufal of what I have
written, weighing every paragraph diftindtly,
I can



I can find nothing to rctratl. As it is not
eafy to write altogether with coolnefs, upon
this bnfinefs, and efpucially not eafy to me;
who have formerly been fo deeply engaged
in it;, I have been jealous, left the warmth
of imagination might have infenfibly feduccd
me, to aggravate and overcharge fome of the
horrid features, which I have attempted to
delineate, of the African Trade. But, upon
a firift review, I am fatisfied.

I have apprized the reader, that I writo
from memory, after an interval of more than
thirty years. But at the fame time, I believe,
many things which I faw, heard and felt,
upon the Coaft of Africa, are fb deeply en-
graven in my memory, that I can hardly
forget, or greatly mistake them, while I am
capable of remembering any thing. I am
certainly not guilty of wilful mifreprefenta-
tion. And, upon the whole, I dare appeal
to the Great Searcher of hearts, in whoft
presence I write, and before wvhon I, and
my readers, mufi all shortly appear, that
(with the reftri*tions and exceptions I have
made) I have advanced nothing, but what,
to thick beft of my judgment and confidence, is
I have


I have likcwife written without Ibolicitatioan,
and fimply from the motive I have already
affigned ; a conviction, that the [hare I have
formerly had in the trade, hinds me, in con-
frience, to throw What light I am able upon
the (ubje&, now it is likely to become a point
of Parliamentary investigation.

No one can have lefs interest in it, than I
have at prefcint, further than as I am inte-
refted by the feelings of humanity, and
a regard for the honor, and welfare of my

Though unwilling to give offence to 4 single
perfoi: in fuch a caufe, I ought not to be
afraid of offending many, by declaring the
truth. If, indeed, there can be many, whom
even interest can prevail upon to contradi&
the common feufe of mankind, by pleading
for a commerce, fo iniquitous, fo cruel, fo
pppreffive, lb deftrudtive, as the African Slave


PubflTed ly the Author of thefe Thoughit,
1. M E S S I A H. Fifty Difcourfcs on the Series
of Scripniral Pffragrs, which form theSubje&
of rhr cLebratecd ORATOR I OF HoAr D.
Preached in the Years 1784 and x178, in t64
Par'i h Church of St. Mary Woolnoth, Lom.n
bard Strect. Vols. svo. Price 2as. bound.
2. A SERMON on thcDeath of the late DR.CoNy rs.
Price 6d.
3 Thr Belt Wifdom. A Sermor), preached before
the Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge
among the Poor. Price 6d.
4. Apologia four Letters to a Minifler of an in-
dipend.ant Church, by a Miniflor of the
Church of England. Price 2 s.
s. Letters and Sermons, with a Review of Ecclefi-
.aftical Hiftory, and Hymns. 6 Vols. itmo.
Price Ci s. fewed, i8s. in plain binding, or
a Is. bound in calf and lettered.
*s. An Authentic Narrative of fome intereffing
Particulars in the Life of ** n*.** *s.
*2. OLNvr lymns. 2s. 6d.
'3. OMICRoN's Letters, complete. 3s.

t4. CAaRDIPONTA, or the Utterance of the Heart*
^Vols. 7 s.
S. Twenty-fcven Sermons.
6. A Review of Eccleaftical Hlitory.
rr Such Articles ;. are marked may be had alone at the
prices afixecd.
Printed for J. BUCK LAND, in Pater-nofter-Row; and J. jo ti-
son, N" 72, St. Paul's Church-Yard.

The foregoing sheets having been printed from a rotgih opy
without the infpction ot the author, it is hoped that an
incorracteifs in chem depending upott dtis circumstance wiZI
be forgiven to him. He ha .fince had the means of oti-
crang only the following crrata ; viz.

P. 4. I. :I. few" for fre."
7, I, iS. even" for *" ever,"
8. 1. 5. dele "1 alfo."

cI if


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