Front Cover
 Title Page

Group Title: general view of the African slave-trade
Title: A General view of the African slave-trade
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098729/00001
 Material Information
Title: A General view of the African slave-trade demonstrating its injustice and impolicy: with hints towards a bill for its abolition
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Roscoe, William, 1753-1831
Donor: unknown ( endowment )
Publisher: R. Faulder
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: 1788
General Note: DatabaseEighteenth Century Collection Online.
General Note: With a half-title.
General Note: Attributed in a MS. note on the half-title of the Anti-Slavery Society copy to William Roscoe.
General Note: Reproduction of original from the Harvard University Houghton Library.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00098729
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 474926029


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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
Full Text



o r TII B


















OF T it



ON T Hlitti






SLA tR. iT4fo tjfe andfld erp/ l W(A/ate
of Man, and o/a direully cppoflie to the generous
termper and Courage' of d Nation, that N is
hardly to be c nceived that qq EngliThman, much
!As a Gentleman, hold plead for it.
SeLockc ox Govyrnent, I. I.





T H HE trade carric4 on for flaves to the
coat 'of Africa, for the purpose of
fuipplying our Well Indian- Iflands, may be
confidercd in two principal points of view,
A 4 Ther

[ 8 ]

The wickcdncfs and injuftice of tthls
trade will evidently appear from the con,
fideration of the following maxims, which
are of universal import, and have been af-
fented to by all rational men in all ages.

ift. All men have by nature, an cqual
right to the enjoyment of personal liberty
and security.

2d. No man can be deprived of this
right, unlefs it be forfeited by dflfnces
against that society to which he has po-
fitively or virtually acceded.

3d. No title to the perpetual fervitude
of another can be ftupported by purchafc ;
for the origin being unjulf, the right can-
not be validated by transfer.

Such are the firft laws of society, as or-
dained by God, and collecTed from the na-
ture of man ; the violation of which places

the fTaiAddr in the light'of a criminal, and
gives to thd opprcffid the rightof ultimate
Arfiflance *.
The flave-trade to the coat of Africa, is
a direct infringement of thefe laws; and be-
fides the immediate oflence of depriving an
individual of his natural and unalienable
rights, includes and involves in it ihe fol-
lowing violations of moral and political
duties :
'Ji. The murder of the flaves, by impro-
per treatment, change of climate, ex-
treme labour, or wantorr cruelty.

2. A perpetual fraud of the whole la-
lour of life.
3. A deprivation of the pleafures of do-
meftic intercourfe, thereby counterafing,
For wherever any two men are, who hava no
fianfling rule,, and common judge to appeal to on earth
for the determination of controverfics of right bcCtwxc
t)nm, thfrt they are jill in the fate of nature.
Locke on Civ. Gov. c. 7, frc. 91.
B a aj

[ 10 ]
as much as poflible, the natural propenfity
to the propagation of the fpccies.
4. The imposition of fevere and frcqucunt
punifthments, even to. difmemberment and
mutilation, under laws to which the flave
never affected; and for nominal crimes of
which, from the nature of his situation, he
cannot be guilty ; his flavery being invo-
luntary, and there being no laws in com-
mon between him and his master.
If, from considering the nature of the
crime, we look at the extent to which it
has been carried, we flhaU find that on thI
loweft computation 8o,ooo men are an-
nually deftroyed in the Weft Indian Iflands,
as will appear by attending to the follow-
ing fads :
r. The hunmait kind have a tendency to
increafc in population, when tolerably
acconimodated with the ueccffaries of life,
2. The n.gruc. are remarkably prolific

[ 1 1)i
ip tji4r opm country, aig is eyidelnt from
thel pgnmbcrs continually drawn from
:t gpnce by the flve-trad;.
3. It requires annually a fupply of
.80,000 negroes in the Weft Indian fettle-
fments, to keep up the numbers requifito
for 'cultivation of the hand.
From which premnifes it follows, that
inftead of increasing in number, as would
be the cafe undbr tolerable advantages,
'80oo00 negroes annually are unnaturally
'and'prematurdly deprived of existence.
In order to procure' 0So,ooo flaves in the
'Weft Indian Iflands, upwards of soo,ooo
are yearly exported from Africa, of whom
'between so and 30,000 generally die in
the paffage.
From the means ufed in procuring flaves,
'it is certain that the procuring ioo,ooo
negroes is attended, on the coaft of Africa,
with an immsnfe deftrufaion of the huma4

[ 12 ]

In the fight of God, and in the jud'g-
ment of difpaffionate reafon, there crimes
are all chargeable upon the pralftWeriahd
abertors of the African flave-trade.

In juflice howeverto fuch perfons as have
been engaged in this traffic, it muft he ac-
knowledged, that the criminality of it
ought not to be imputed exclusively to any
particular body of men; but ought to be
confidercd as aflftling at the hmce time,
the government which has tolerated and
approved fuchl trade, and the nation which
has fo long filently acquiefced under it.To
endeavour to throw the reproach of na-
tional mifcondud upon thofe individuals,
who, from a variety of circumflancea, and
perhaps without peculiar depravity, may-.
have been induced to become tho more
immediate itiitruments of it, feems there-
fore to be not only illiberal, but unjuft.

1 13 J

The property of a nation confifts:

I. In the frength and refources ofthe fae.

I In/ the opulence and happinefs of ind;

The fti-ength of a ftlate depends:

I. Ont the number and courage of its inha-

II. On the floturjfing jiate of its manufic-
lures, commerce, and agriculture.

III. On the amtwnt of its revenues.

It will be proper then to consider how
far there requifites are affeded by the
African trade.
1. ;t

I n+ 3

I. It is a faCt which can admit of no
dirfputq, that the numberof inhabitants of
this country has beewA confi4erably dimi.
nifhed by the flave-trade, which occasions
a certain annual lofs of ioop or Jpoo fea-
men-a clafs of men who have been
always regarded as the bulwark of the

The lofs of 20 or 30,000 men in a 'period
of twenty years, including the lofs of their
probable defendants, makes a confidera-
ble difference in the population of thefe

For the lofs of thefe lives, the only
compenfation that it is pretended we obtain
is merely pecuniary; which can no more
repay a Rate for the lofs of its inhabitants,
thad it can a man rfo$ the lots of his'limbs.

II. i. To the agriculture of this country
t .,flavc-..trade has no immediate relation

[ tS ]

+-with its manufatures and com terce
itis intimnatcly conne&ed.

2.The advantages derived from the flave.
trade to the manufaidures of this coun.
try, arhi either, from rhe confirmation
of fuch goods as are bartered away on the
coat of Africa ; or of fuch as arcf fent out
as neceffaries for the flaves in the Weft In-
'dian Iflands.

From an inquiry into the nature of the
,goods manufacture for the coaft-trade,
&c. it will appear,

That the bufiners of providing goods
for the African market is in the hands of a
few manufacturers only.

That a confidcrable part of the goods are
coarife,,or nearly unwrought ; and there-
fore canner pollibly employ a great number
of" hinds.
r That

[ i6 ]

That a large proportion of theli goods
are difpofed of in tihe natural' rrade of tho
country, lor ivory, gold, &c.

The exportation of necefarles to the
Weft Indian Iflands, would certainly
continue in whatever manner they wern
to be cultivated.

The extent and fertility of Africa leaves
no room to doubt, that an exchange of Eu-
ropean commodities, and particularly of
Eaglith mnanufaCtures, for the produ6Rions
of that country, under the encouragement
and protection of the legislature, would, in a
fhort time, not only open a new force of
wealth to this nation, from the value and
utility of the articles to be imported ; but
would alfo occasion a far greater export of
manufaiures, and thofe of a finer and more
profitable kind than can ever be difpofed of
in the traffic of the human fpucies.

[ '7 ]

3. The advantages derived from the
flave-trade to thecommerce of this country,
confill i,1 the exportation to Aft ica of goods
imported into England from other parts ;
in the employment of our veffels and ma-
riners, and in the importation of the pro-
dutions of the Weft Indian Iflands.

i. With refp e to the exportation of
Eaft Indian and other foreign commodities
to the coaft of Africa, it is certain the de-
man'd for them in Africa will not diminish
in confequence of the abolition of the flave-
trade. The only difference will be, that
instead of repaying us with flaves, they
will furnish us in return with the natural
productions of that unexplored country,
which, as far as they are known, are of the
moil valuable kind, and may be obtained
on the moft.reafonable terms.

The prohibition of the flave-trade will
neither diminish the shipping employed
B in

iS ]

in the Weft Indian trade, nor i~ any
degree prove injurious to the Britifli -
tations ; for the flave-trade at thli time?'
not rendered neceffary by any uinavoidpl4i
and irremediable circunfitances ; but owqi
is exifience and support to the ill-judge
parfimohy, folly, and wickcdnefs of the
planter; who, under the certainty that he
can, at pleafure, fupply himfcLf with
flaves from a frefli cargo, facrifices thofe on
hand, through a principle of miilaken ava-
nce; and inflead of encouraging their pro.
pagation, holds it to be, on the whole, a
matter of prudence to wear out and exhauft
a flavc in five or fix years. The flave-
trade ik thexrfore not founded even in po-
litical neceffity, but on an abufe *, which

* The number of ncgroes that die exceeds the num-
ber born in mont,'ir wit tn all iflarids, To that an annual
supply from the coaft o(Guinea Is. necifary to keep up
kthTr quoti.-M-t. Stoke's Vibw of the Cariftltion
of the Britifh Oolonivs p. i44.

([ 9 I
calls aloud for redrcfs : and the introduc-
tion of humane reftri&ions, and reafpoua
ble laws into the Weft India Ifland;, as it
will, on the one hand, contribute to the
happinefs and population of the negroes ;
fo, on the other, it will immediately di-
minith, and, in a fhort time, Co far destroy
the pretended neceffity of the flave-trade,
as to intake its total abolition a matter of
indifference both to the flave-merchant
and the planter. *

It is well known, that a flave bred on
the plantation is, when arrived at matu-
rity, of double the value of an imported
flave ; and happy is it for the gaufe of
truth, that 'the poflbility of a plantation
fupplying itfelf with flaves does not de-
pend on conjeaure. Under a kind and
judicious after this has already frequent.
ly happened, and an inftancemay be ad-
B 2 duced

[ o 1

duced of a planter who doubled the nuil-
ber of his flaves in the fpace of 14 yecriu
on the fame estate, by propagation only *.

II. The revenue of this country is great-
ly augmented by the importation of vari-
ous articles of merchandize from the Bri-
tifh plantations but as the total prohibi-
tion of the flave-trade, under proper cau-
tions, will by no means diminish the prow
du6tionsof thofeplantations; fo the revenue
will remain unimpaired : besides which,
it may probably acquire a very important
addition, from the eflablifhment of an im-

Governor Moultric, late of Eaft Florid., on
one of whofe pluitatiuin in the Blhauna Iflands, is now
living a negro woman, from whom are derived forty
defcendantq. Thefe flavcs were reminovecd to the Baha-
mas from EIl Florida, on the ceffion of that province
to thc-crown of Spain.
Querc. Would not the apprehenfions of infurrea.ion
be much abated, i dice plantations were cultivated by
slaves born on the 'lkhad i.

1 21

mediatee trade between the coaft of Africa
and this country; whofe returns will be
very expeditious, and whofe commodities
will in time bear the impofition of a con-
fiderabic duty : whereas the export of
flaves from Africa, and the time employed
by our shipping. in the middle pamfage, is
not attended with the leaft advantage to
the revenue of Great Britain.

The profp.riry of a nation alfo de-
pends on the opulence of the individuals
who compofe it.

It will therefore be proper to consider,
whether the balance of the African flave-
trade has, upon the whole, been in favour
of the general body of Britifh merchants ;
and whether it be now carried on with
the fame advantages it has formerly been.


[ 't 1

t *would be absurd to fuppotf, that",
trade which has exifted upwards of two
centuries should not, v'qon the whole;
have been 'iidvantageitts to the perronti
concerned in it ;-for otherwise, it would
long ago have been abakadoned, there be.
ing no inducement bit that of profit,
'which could have givcn it a prcftrence
to any other kind of merchandise. But
it may not follow from thence, that it
is now a beneficial branch of traffic ;
"haid 'the very circunifance of its having
been formerly produalive of gain, may
perhaps be an inducement to the conti-
nuance of it, even when it has ceafed to
be Lo.
That there is fo,9i probability thisis
the cate, may beinferred from the follow-
ing circumflances :
Forty or.fifty years ago, the purchafe of a
flave on the coaft of Africa did not, on an
6 average,

23 1

areage, amount to half the fuum now paid
for fuch flave; thecompetition between dif-
;ferent adventurers having in this courfe of
time raised the price: whereas the value of a
flave in the Weft Indias is, at the,prefcnt
time, very little,more than it was when
fuch flave coil only half the fum he now
cofts on the coaft of Africa.

The long dates at which bills are ufu-
ally drawn in the Weft Indies for pay-
ment of lh a.,c is another heavy deduc-
tion from the profits of the flave-mer-
chant, as well as a very important addi-
tion to his rifquc. There bills are fre-
quently drawn at one, two, and even
three years date; at the end of which time
it is by no means unufual for them to be
returned to the Weft Indies for want of


[ 24 ]

If to theft circumtan nces we adld tht l-
qucncy of inlutrrcItons, the certaintyo0f
lols by fickncfs, and the large fumn paid as
premiiums of insurance, we hall have rea-
jbn perhaps to conclude, that tlhe flave-
trade is not now fo produu&ive of private
wealth, as its advocates would willingly
induce us to believoK

It may alfo be proper to remark, that
from the moft authentic information the
author has been enabled to obtain from
many refpc&ablc inhabitants of the town
of Liverpnol (to which town his inquiry
was more particularly dirclcd, as it has,
for fbme time pafl, icut out more veffris
in the flnve-trade than all the reft of the
kingdom), it appears, that out of thirty
mercantile lioulcs, or companies, which
have carried on nearly the whole of

t 25 ]

this trade fince the year 1773, not lefs
than twelve have aaually become bank-
rupts of the remainder many are fup-
pofed to have fullained considerable lolfes,
whilfl the number of thofe who are known
to have enriched themfelves by it is re-
ftrired to a narrow compafs. In this effi-
mate we mull, however, except the ma(-
ters of veflIls in the flave-trade, whofe
profits chiefly arife from a commiffion on
the purchnie, and another on the fa!e of
their cargo, and to whom the flave-trade
has therefore been uniformly advantage-

Inflances have, of late years, occurred
of Britifh merchants entering into con-
trat with other countries, to fupply their
plantations.with flames; and many voyages
have been made in Englifh vclels, and
with Englifth [amen, for that purpofe-a

[ a26 f]

circufblancepf which it is difficult tqy,
whether it is more disgraceful to thq bq
tioual character, 'more injurious to tho
flat, or more ruinous to the individuals
who have attempted it. That the Britilh
nario should be branded in future times
as procurers of flames for all Europe,
is a matter of real concern to every
person who feels himself interefled in
the honour of his couttry-That the
lives of a opnfiderable number of Britifh
feamen 'fhpuld be annually facrificed, in
order to fave thofe of fuch neigh-
bouring flats, as we have been long ac-
cuflomcd to call our natural enemies, and
to cnablo them to cultivate their Ameri-
can Ietdcpments, is an abutf whi-'h ought
not to have been fo.long tlerated by the
government of this country. ..With re-
ipta to the private advantages wlhich,hWve
been reaped from thefe foreign 'engage-

[ 27 ]

mncnth the recent fate of an eminent
adventurer, who is generally allowed tp
be poffcflcd of extraordinary mercantile
talents.; and the complaints. of thofe-in-
dufirious tradcflimc who.naow for the third
time, lament the uncertain nature of the
flave-trade, will be the moft ftriking com-

C 0 N C L U S 10 N.

From the foregoing remarks, it iU then
evident that the flave-trade is not only a
continual offence against the laws of God,
involving the daily commifflon of fuch
crimes as cannot fail to awaken his juft
difplcafure, and to excite the deteftation
and abhorrence of all good men ; but that
it is alfo detrimental to the fate in depriv-
ing it annually of a very considerable num-
ber of its moft valuable fubje&s ; that it
is unneceflary to the support of the manu-

[ :8 ]

fa&tures, commerce, and revenue of this
'country, or to the proper cultivation of
our American Iflands ; and finally, that
it is at present by no means fo produLCive
of wealth to the individuals concerned in
it, as has been ofually imagined.


[ 29 ]



Preliminary Remarks.
I T has been already dcmonfirated, that
the flave-trade is not founded on neceffity,
but on an abufe ; and that the annual de-
mand for flaves is principally occafioned
by the improvident deftrulion of them,
and the obi acles to propagation in the
Weft Indian Iflands.

i. The firft regulations, therefore,
ought to have regard to the present condi-
tion of flaves in the Weft Indies ; to im-
prove their personal rights, fo far as may
be done without too great a relaxation of
discipline; and to enable them to marry

1 30 ]

and propagate, by granting extraordinary
privilges to fuch as bring up a ceOt n
number of legitimate children *.

z. But hotwithftandhig -dthe regula-
tions are no lefs dictated by prudence,
than byjuftice, it is much to bc feared that
an ad merely declaratory will be infufficient
0o Wring about fo ddfirable a reform : and
it will, therefore, be ncceffury to inforce
the obfprvYnice of thefe regulations, by a
gradual r4triPjfion of the flave-trade. This

The fnldamental proposition upon the fubjel. of
population, which mult guide every mifture to im-
prove it, and from which every conclusion concerning
it may be deduced, is this: Wherever ihe commerce
between dihe (exes is regulatil by marriage, and a pro-
vitfioh for that mode of ftihfifence, to which tuc iclars
of the cpwonuity is accultomtd, c;Ln be procured with
e -feuid certainty, there the numbers of the people will
incttaf'e and the rapidity, as well as the extent of the
icreafc, will be proportioned to the degree in $gich
there causes exift."
Paley's Principles ofMoral and Political
Philofophy. s59.

C 31 ]
rellriCion may be effeited in two ways-
firit by limiting the number to be im-
ported-f-condly, by charging fuch a
duty upon flaves imported into the let-
idements as will make it more advifable
for the planter to breed young flaves on
his estate than purchase freth ones. Of
thefe measures the latter, for many rea-
Cons, feems to be the molf advifable,
3. The employment of our shipping and
mereqntile capitals, and the improvement
of the public revenue, is to be effeaed by
a more cxtenfive trade to Africa, for the
commodities of that country, than has
hitherto been carried on.
4. To which may be added, that the
pracice of fupplying foreign nations
with flaves, at the expence of the lives
of Britifli feamen, and the temporary
lofs of the flipping of this country, ought
to be prohibited in the mofl effectual

r 3' ]

SI I N T S, &c. :t

Pijfonal Rights.
TO eliablifl in every Colony, a Court
of Judicature, which hall be both of a
criminal and civil nature, to be compofed
of three judges, appointed by the crown,
none of whom (hall be either merchants
or planters.

The Court, on complaint, to decide on
the corporal punishments of the Slaves,
and on the fines and penalties of the
planters, and other free men, without the
intervention of a jury ; but not to con-
demn any perfon to death, or imprifou a
free man, without a jury, according to the
formalities of the Engli(h law ; and no
person to be capitally executed, without
the warrant of the Governor for the time

[ 33(1

Wilful murder of a 1hva, by a'free
Itrian, to be punithod with death.

The teftimnony of flames to be evidence
,in capital .crimes, and the jury to judge
of its credibility.

Maiming, striking, whipping, or other-
wife abusing a flave, without the deter-
mination of the Cqurt, punishable by fine
and imprifonmcntb

The murder of a free man by a flave, to
!Ge punifhed with death, by hanging: all
torture, and lingering and painful modes
of putting criminals to death, to be abo.

Theft irit flave io be punlfhed by
shipping, at the ditfretion of the toUrt.


E 34 1

Hours of labour to be fixed accMding
to the circumfiances of different colonid,
and the neceffities of particular feafons.

Every planter to provide his flaves with
a reasonable allowance of provision, and
clothing; to be regulated by the Court
as often as occasion requires.

Saturday afternoon, and Sunday, to be
entirely at the flaves difpofaL

Divine service to be performed for fuch
of the slaves as are willing to attend, at
lea'ft once every Lord's day.

Encouragement of Propagation.
Every man and woman flave, when
married, to have a flipulated portion of
7 land

[ 35 3

land fgned to their fole ufe, under the
fantion of the Court.

A flave being the father of a child ca-
pable of working, or performing a talk, to
have half another day in thu week allowed ;
and an additional half day to be allowed
for every child fo capable of working.

No woman flave to be compelled to
work for a reasonable time before and af.
ter delivery.

Every mother to be allowed one hour
from labour each day, in refpcet of euery
child ; and when fuch children are capa-
ble of working, to have the fame exemp-
tion from weekly labour as the father.

The father and mother of even chil-
dren, or upwards, capable of work, to be
C 2 totally

totally exempt frorn labour, find io al
lowed a rateable quota of proviftoni .l1
neceffaries with the other flaves.

Every flave to be allowed to work or
hire out hnimelfon the days of exemption,
and to acquire and retain property inde-
pendent, of his' matter ; and alfo to have
the' privilege of putrchafing his freedoni
gradually, paylog one-fixth of his original
colt for one day in each week ; or the
whole'coft for his full emancipation.
Sick and aged.
Proper ho4fitals to be eftablifthed in
every colony, for 'fick and aged flaves; to
be fupported by a rateable tax on the plan
ttrs, and by voluntary contributions.

R,/friing Duties on Importation.

i From the ift of Jandary, 1789, to im-
pole a duty 'of five pounds upon 'every

[ 0 1
flave imported into any of the Britifh fet-

From the Ift of January, 1794, to rabfe
'the duty to aol. and from the ift of
January 18.9, entirely to prohibit the

Bounties on Trade to Africa.

Counties for a limited time to be al-
thwed, according to the tonnage, to veflfls
trading to Africa for wood, gums, ivory,
and other merchandise; to be paid out
of the duties arifing from the importation
of flaves in the Weft Indies.

Number of Slaves to be proportioned to the Vef-
c/, and Probibition offifppflying Foreigners.

No Britifh veTel to be allowed to clear
out on a flaving voyage, to the coafl of
Africa, unlefs fecurity by bond, in a

E 38 1

fullicicut penalty, be given before her de-
parture, that lhe fall not take on boakd
,more than a certain number of flaves, to
be proportioned to the burthen of the vef-
fel ; and that the hall deliver the fame
in fome or one of the Britifh plantations.
Certificates of fuch delivery to be produced
before the bond be cancelled.

The flames in each colony to be regifter-
ed, and not to be fold out of the colony
without a bond being given for delivery
of the flave in fome other Britith fettle-
mcnt : fuch bond not to be annulled un-
til a certificate of delivery be returned.

Since writing the above, the Author has
been informed, that many excellent regu-
lations refpe&iog the treatment of negro
flaves, will be found in an aa of the Af-

C 39 1

fembly of Eaft Florida, whilfi a province
of Great Britain, which received the Royal
approbation. There is no doubt but Gene-
ral Tonyn, late Governor, or Mr. Yates,
late Secretary of that Province, would, if
properly called on, give fatisfadlory infor-
mation on this head.

F I N I S.

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