Slave of Royal Blood. --Free Blacks Wards to Jews. --Character of Slaves.-Election Riots. --Loss of Life.-Funeral Procession. --"Caucus" System. --Arts of Demagogues. --Last Day at Philadelphia. - Treatment of English Subjects --Clandestine Marriage," and Conclusion.
AMONG the many persons of color whom I visited at Philadelphia, was a woman of singular intelligence and good breeding. A friend was with me. She received us with the courtesy and easy manners of a gentlewoman. She appeared to be between thirty and forty years of age --of pure African descent, with a handsome expressive countenance and a graceful person. Her mother, who had been stolen from her native land at an early age, was the daughter of a king, and is now, in her eighty-fifth year, the parent stem of no less than 182 living branches. When taken by the slavers, she had with her a piece of gold as an ornament, to denote her rank. Of this she was of course deprived; and a solid bar of the same metal, which her parent sent over to America for the purchase of her freedom, shared the same fate. Christiana Gibbons*,
who is thus the granddaughter of a prince of the Ebo tribe, was bought, when about fifteen years of age, by a woman who was struck by her interesting appearance, and emancipated her. Her benefactress left her, at her death, a legacy of 8,000 dollars. The whole of this money was lost by the failure of a bank, in which her legal trustee (a man of the name of James Morrison, since dead) had placed it in his own name. She had other property, acquired by her own industry, and affording a rent of 500 dollars a year. Her agent, however, Colonel Myers, though indebted to her for many attentions and marks of kindness during sickness, had neglected to remit her the money from Savannah in Georgia, where the estate is situated; and, when I saw her, she was living, with her husband and son, on the fruits of her labor.
* An African prince, (Abou Bekir Sadiki,) born in Timbuctoo, has recently obtained his freedom by obtaining the remission of his apprenticeship, after thirty years' bondage in Jamaica. Specimens of his writing in Arabic, which he acquired in his native land, may be seen at the office of the British and Foreign Society for the Abolition of Slavery, No. 18, Aldermanbury.
She had not been long resident in Philadelphia, whither she had come to escape the numerous impositions and annoyances to which she was exposed in Georgia. Her husband was owner of a wharf in Savannah, worth eight or ten thousand dollars. It is much to be feared that the greater part of this property will be lost, or not recovered without great difficulty. I was induced to call upon her, in consequence of a letter I had received from Mr. Kingsley, of whom I have before spoken. He had long been acquainted with her, and spoke of her to me in the highest terms; wishing that I should see what he considered a "good specimen of the race."
We found her, indeed, a very remarkable woman; though it is probable that there are many among the despised slaves as amiable and accomplished as herself. Such, at least, was the account she gave us of their condition, that we felt convinced of the superiority possessed by many, in moral worth and intellectual acuteness, above their oppressors.
Every free black in Georgia, it seems, is obliged to have a guardian, being considered an infant in the eye of the law, or in statu pupillari. I need not add that all are thus at the mercy of their legal protectors. They are highly taxed at Savannah, by the State and the Corporation. The amount of the poll-tax is, to each individual, 9 dollars, 75 cents, exclusive of half a dollar for every child between eight and eighteen. They must take out free papers, or have them renewed every year. They cannot even go to Church, unprovided with a pass; and, if found without one after ten o'clock at night, they are imprisoned, and fined five dollars the next day as gaol-fee to the captain of the guard, who receives for his public services twenty dollars per month, besides the little pickings he may thus make from the violation of a rule, which he must be more honest than most men not to turn into a source of emolument to himself. The Jews are generally agents for the colored people, and are well paid for their services. They seldom act dishonestly towards their clients, for the love of gain serves as a check to one another's avarice. They have the whole trade in their hands; and the wealth it brings secures them respect and a favorable reception from the whites. The colored people look upon them as their friends. This is a curious state of society, and the more remarkable, as something of the same kind, arising from similar causes, prevails in Poland. What business belongs to the Pariahs brings high wages and profits from the exclusion of rivals from without, and the dis-esteem in which labor is held within the State. Part of the harvest is shared between the Jews and the Government; but enough remains to afford a comfortable maintenance to the lawful possessors, and prepare them for that new order of things, which is in slow but certain progress throughout the Southern States.
Christiana confirmed every thing I had heard from others with regard to the character of the slaves. She never knew one who did not long for freedom, or who felt contented with his lot. Many have taught themselves reading and writing; having acquired the requisite knowledge with astonishing rapidity. All are alive to the injustice done them; and when irritated, tell their owners openly that they have no right to the labor they force out of them. Some will rather suffer death than be separated from the objects of their affection. Their firmness is so well known, that a resolution to this effect, when once pronounced, will deter any one, at a sale, from purchasing them separately. When standing on a table to be sold, they often cry out to any one who is known for his cruelty, "You may buy me, for power is in your hands: --but I will never work for you." One woman exclaimed to a planter, notorious for his barbarity, "Buy me if you please; but I tell you openly, if I become your slave, I will cut your throat the first opportunity." The man trembled with rage and fear: --the latter was the stronger --and he shrank from the bidding.
Christiana had not forgotten that she had royal blood in her veins, and she showed herself worthy of the distinction it implied, by her willingness to engage in any work that did not carry moral degradation with it. Often had she assisted the whites to clear away the rubbish from their houses, and arrange the furniture which their indolence and inattention to comfort had exposed to damage or decay. There was nothing, in which her superiority to the pale-faced fools among whom she had spent the best years of her life, shone out more conspicuously, than her disdain for the paltry prejudice that leads a man to see in the employment of the bodily powers which Nature has bestowed upon him, a mark of debasement or a misfortune. She had too much honest pride to blush at being useful, and too much regard for her own dignity to shrink from the exercise of those faculties which are destined to keep the mind in a healthy state, while they contribute to the support of its companion*.
Her remarks on this subject arose, without parade or affectation, from the conversation in which we were engaged, and were strictly in accordance with those feelings which observation had led me to attribute to persons in her situation; feelings that are not the less natural, because they are opposed to those preconceptions, by which we are led to believe that the slave sees nothing in freedom, but the gratification of idleness, and an exemption from the degradation of work. He has no such feeling; and we are as irrational in estimating the results of his position, as we were unjust in fixing it upon him. As for Christiana, if I might judge from the tenor of her conversation, her hand and heart were never at fault, when danger or distress called for the exertion of either. She had a strong sense of religion; and the violation of its injunctions, she had been so long doomed to witness in others, had taught her the necessity and value of practical attention to its duties. Her brother, who had come to Philadelphia, under a promise to return to his owner, had informed her of his intention to obtain his freedom by breaking his engagement. "If he does so," said she, "he shall never enter my house again. Whatever may be his wrongs, his honor ought not to be forfeited." This feeling is so general, and so well understood, that masters often allow their slaves to go into other States, upon their promising not to abscond.
"Even the wisest men of antiquity were not exempt from the weakness which this woman had conquered. Cicero says, that all employments, exercised by slaves, are sordid and degrading. "Illiberales et sordidi quaestus mercenariorum, omniumque quorum operae, non quorum artes emuntur. Est enim illis ipsa merces auctoramentum servitutis."
--Cic. de Off, l . 42.
He makes, however, an exception in favor of agriculture,
Of all the fallacies and falsehoods, to which the cunning of slave-owners, all over the world, has given such unfortunate currency, there is not one that has a smaller intermixture of truth in it, while it has gained almost universal credit, than the imputation of an irresistible inclination to sloth in all who have become free. Emancipation and indolence are indissolubly connected in the minds of too many, to give those, who are groaning in chains, a fair chance of shewing that they may exist apart elsewhere. Because a man is unwilling to work for the benefit of another, it is taken for granted that he will not work for his own; and labor with profit is supposed to be as distasteful as labor without it; as if the old association would keep out the new, and the remembrance of the whip would have more effect on the imagination than the presence of wages upon the senses. When Homer says, that the day which takes from a man his freedom takes from him half his virtue, he speaks of valor not of honesty. The application of the maxim is even more false than the interpretation of the passage, and has destroyed whole communities, by supporting slavery, where it might have saved them by destroying it; for what is lost to the individual is lost to society; and a foreign foe has no better ally than the privation of which the poet speaks.
A few days before I left Philadelphia, the tranquillity of the city was menaced by party violence, the excess of which had cost one of its inhabitants his life --a young main of excellent character, and inoffensive conduct. From what I could make out from the discordant accounts of the contending sections into which the country was divided, the deceased had fallen by a random blow; the wound, which it inflicted, having been found too slight to alarm the medical attendants for his safety. They had left him, the night before his death, in a favorable state: --an internal haemorrhage, the existence of which had escaped their observation, carried him off before the morning. From the nature and direction of the wound, which had fallen near the femoral artery, there was good reason to believe that it had been occasioned by some one who was endeavoring to escape, with a drawn dirk in his hand, from an onset of the enemy, and had struck him, while moving his hand, in the hurry and confusion of the moment.
Such, however, was not the opinion of the Jackson party, who claimed him as a martyr in their cause, and availed themselves of the occasion, to convert the sympathy of the people into an instrument of detestation against the supposed perpetrators of the outrage.
It was the Bank, that had hired a bravo to strike the fatal blow; and the lives of the citizens were menaced by its steel, as its liberties were endangered by its gold! The most inflammatory language was employed in appeals to the nation; and thousands attended the funeral, displaying their strength, and their resentment by all the devices, that the dread of a defeat at the ensuing election could suggest. There were eight or ten thousand in the procession, headed by the widow and the chiefs of the faction --the members, past, present, and future, of Congress, and the candidate for the honor about to be bestowed by the spectators of the scene. Nothing could well be more calculated to create or increase excitement, than the ceremonies observed at the preliminary proceedings, a few days before, when the judges were chosen for the coming election. The contending parties were mustered in the open street on opposite sides, that the assessors of the votes by which the judges (or by whatever name they are known) were to be elected, might be fixed upon. Partial fights took place on the occasion; and the fierce looks, that were interchanged, foretold the storm that was about to burst forth. Such a spectacle was never perhaps witnessed before in Philadelphia; and the pageant, which was got up by the "tories," as the government party are called, might well inspire the peaceable citizens with alarm for the results of an exhibition more suited to the revolutionary movements of a long oppressed people, than to a community under the protection, and assembled for the exercise of liberties created and controlled by themselves.
On the following Monday, when the election took place, the apprehensions, so naturally entertained, were realized; and another victim (if not more) was offered up to the Moloch of civil strife; while many were severely wounded, and several houses were destroyed; the fury of the Jackson men having been sharpened by the victory which their opponents obtained at the polls. The same spirit was at work, with more or less violence, throughout the Union, which might be said to be divided into two distinct camps, characterised, in the warfare they kept up, by the usual marks of political strife. It seemed as if there were no third party of sufficient weight to check the exuberance of their tendencies, to give consistency to their attachments, or to instil courtesy into their hostilities. In most other countries there is an independent phalanx, to which the nation may look, in times of great emergency, for a dispassionate support of the public good. No such intermediate or neutral body here, has any vote at elections, or any voice in the halls of legislation. Each side has its committee of management or of nomination, who fix upon the candidates, and arrange the requisite preparations. The great body of the electors are virtually disfranchised by the alternative before them, of voting for the tickets offered to their choice by the "Caucus," or of not voting at all. If they are satisfied with neither batch of candidates, there is no remedy. It would be vain to think of any other; and the chains they have voluntarily assumed, are an insuperable barrier to freedom of election. The State --the municipal --the county --the town elections, are most of them, if not all, concocted in this fashion, and form a series of concentric movements, the springs and agents of which, are to be found in the attractive focus of the presidential chair. Neither constable, nor governor, can assume the badge of office, unmarked by the livery of masters, who enrich themselves by their subserviency to the leaders, and their dupery of the flock.
In the cities (and it is probably the same in the country districts) the nomination of the candidates for office is entrusted to a committee, composed, for the most part, of tradesmen, who are familiar with the different kinds of argument, that are likely to influence the voters. The expenses are defrayed by a species of assessment, which they graduate by a regular tariff, compounded of the means and the zeal of the combatants. Fifteen dollars from one alderman, or twenty from a common council man, are no great object with men who are ambitious of distinction or patronage. There are always good things, and contracts to be bestowed upon their friends; and that sort of gratitude, which has nothing to do with "the memory of the heart," may safely be relied on. It is thus that charitable institutions, reformatory establishments, and the whole train of useful foundations, are too often marred and frustrated, by the control which each junto successively exercises over their trustees and administrators ; and the best contrived schemes are often defeated or delayed, by a revolution at Washington, which displaces the whole machinery, at the very moment perhaps of its most successful operation.
The subjoined printed placard, which was stuck up at this election, affords a fair specimen of the arts by which an oligarchy contrive to govern a democracy.
IN order that a correct account may be obtained of the legal number of voters polled, favorable to the cause of James Gowen, notice is hereby given, that, so soon as any voter shall have placed his ticket in the hands of one of the inspectors, at either of the windows allotted for that purpose, at the Commissioner's Hall, on the day of the general election, from the opening of the poll till its last close, (no matter at what hour of the night,) he is requested to call immediately afterwards at the house of
"Corner of Second and Queen Streets,
and hand in his name to a Committee of five persons of the highest respectability, who will be waiting for that purpose, during the whole time of the election. The request is urgently made upon every independent citizen of Southwark, to use all the exertions in his power to carry into successful effect the above satisfactory arrangement, &c.
" By order of the Committee."
This is inimitable! The committee order it to be stated that they are "respectable!" --Were ever people so duped out of their independence? The party for which this self complacent "Caucus" are acting, are on the anti-Jackson or Whig side! It is of little consequence, which is in, and which is out; since the weapons of defence and of attack are just the same; and the people are equally slaves whether their "friends" or their "enemies" succeed. If this be, as I suspect, the Democratic Whig Committee of Superintendance, the chairman of this virtuous body, who is an Englishman, is playing the very same game in his adopted country which he condemned at home. He is now the editor of a paper, a political intriguer, and a man of no small consequence. I was introduced to him as a person of thoroughly liberal principles, at a private meeting where unrestricted discussion was said to be encouraged, and the honest advocacy of truth the sole object. On my entrance to the presence of these cosmopolites, I called the attention of the company --they were all Englishmen --to the tyrannical conduct of the Anglo-Americans towards their fellow men, and asked whether it was honest or generous to sanction such brutality by direct participation or acquiescent silence?
This "respectable" man took up the cudgels very warmly, and argued in favor of expediency. The person who had introduced me to these boasting, double-faced, "liberty boys" was as much disgusted as myself; for he had known him equally violent against expediency in England. Still this free citizen of a free country was not inconsistent. He was aiming at popularity, and shewed the sincerity of his ambition by the insincerity of his professions. He had entered his solemn protest, as a free thinking Christian, against an orthodox creed in his native country, and he gave in his adhesion, as a free acting republican, to an orthodox color in his adopted country.
I happened, in the course of conversation, to observe, that a time would come when the Americans would atone for their injustice, as they were not wanting in common sense. --"What!" he exclaimed in a tone of triumph, "you acknowledge then, that they are superior in common sense to the English?" --"Quite the contrary," was my reply, "my words implied neither contrast nor comparison. I will, however, say that I am sure your former fellow-subjects would not so easily be led away by designing demagogues as your present fellow-citizens." The national vanity, at which travellers are apt to laugh, is as much owing to the base flattery of fawning foreigners as to any other cause whatever. I may add, that the facility with which strangers obtain the elective franchise has proved highly detrimental to the interests of the country, and is likely, if not remedied, to give rise to the worst excesses of corruption or civil discord.
On the 13th of October, I left Philadelphia for New York. On arriving, in company with two or three friends, at the steam-boat, which was to convey me for ever from this beautiful city, I found several others who had come to take leave of me, and unite with the former in the expression, of their wishes for my safe return to England. The affectionate farewell, with which they parted from me, still rings in my ears; and I cannot make a more acceptable return for the hospitality and kind offices I received at their hands, than a fervent prayer, that their countrymen may emulate them in their pure benevolence and exemption from every debasing prejudice.
Before I embarked for Europe, I was made acquainted with one of the worst cases of oppression, as it involves the violation of existing treaties and municipal laws. The particulars, as I received them from the sufferers themselves, were subsequently confirmed by an Englishwoman, whom I saw at New York, and who had known all the parties for many years, --both in Jamaica and in Georgia. In December, 1817, Mary Gordon was taken from Porto Rio Buono, in Jamaica, with her three children, in the brig Hope, of London, Captain Potter, to Savannah in Georgia, by a woman of the name of Cooper; who, under a promise of giving her her freedom, prevailed upon her to quit the island. Mrs. Cooper had, at the time, two or three estates in Jamaica. There were two other females (Nancy Cooper and Lucinda) who were allured by the same artifices, and shared the same fate. They were all treated as slaves in Georgia.
The two latter are still there. Mary Gordon, however, about a year before I saw the family, came to New York with her eldest son, as stewardess and steward in the vessel; their mistress expecting they would return by it, as they had returned on former occasions, the mother from England, whither she had taken her about eighteen years before, and the son from Liverpool, voluntarily and on account of his parent and his brothers. Mary had four children; one born seven months after her departure from Jamaica. Of these, two made their escape, three or four years ago, to Cuba, where they got work and were well treated. From that place they went to Nassau in New Providence, whence they came to New York to join their mother. One of these lads had the appearance of an European. No one, they told me, ever insulted them because of their color, while they were on the island. There seems, indeed, to be little if any distinction of the kind there; the free being treated with nearly equal respect, whatever race they belong to. Both these young men observed that they had been more respected in the South than in New York. They were well acquainted with Georgiana Gibbons, and spoke in high terms of her character. Free papers, they said, were often forged in Georgia, as they are in Virginia.
The eldest son had paid between five and six hundred dollars for his freedom. He shewed me the receipts, signed by M. C. M'Queen, in a neat and clear hand. She was Mrs. Cooper's daughter. There was a large bundle of them. The amount was 244 dollars. Others had been lost. They contained accounts, which, with the former, would make the sum of five or six hundred dollars. He said he believed he had paid, in all, nearly twice that sum for his freedom; having advanced, for three years, during which no written account was kept, about twenty dollars a month. This sort of roguery is very common; complaints are useless where punishment is almost impossible. Mrs. M'Queen, in a paper he put into my hands, calls him "perfectly honest, clever, and useful in many ways; but more particularly as a head-waiter." In this document she agrees to take 350 dollars for him. When she enticed him away from Jamaica, she promised to "make a gentleman of him." She always trusted him, he said,"but," he added, "I will trust her no more." She often importuned him for money; and he had even stripped his coat from his back to satisfy her. One, that was worth sixteen dollars, he had sold for eight. They were all agreed in their description of slavery. It is a system of inconceivable cruelty.
It is high time that British subjects should be protected from the outrages to which their persons and property are exposed in the United States. Not only are they imprisoned, if they venture into some of the Southern States, but they are liable to be robbed or murdered in New York and Philadelphia. One of them, a quiet man, and a valuable member of society, who has resided many years in the former city, had his house broken into, during the late riots, and goods to the value of five or six hundred dollars stolen or destroyed. He was born in one of our colonies; and, as a residence of nearly forty years in the United States, and the most exemplary conduct can never obtain for him the right of citizenship, he may fairly claim protection from our government in return for the allegiance he still owes it. He keeps a register-office for servants, and is well known in the city as a man of unimpeachable integrity, and most obliging behavior. What offence had he given, and what indemnity has he had? None whatever. He had done no more than those who plundered his house, and those who refuse him redress, make a boast of doing. He wore the skin that the Almighty gave him. Ought not such persons to apply to our ambassador for that security which the law or usage denies them? There is no doubt that British subjects are often imprisoned in the United States, in violation of international law, and with perfect impunity. One case occurred in 1817. It was that of a colored man, born and brought up at Saint Bartholomew's, and a seaman in the service of the American Government. He had been sent with twenty-three others from London to Charleston, in South Carolina. The particulars are detailed in an advertisement --addressed by the City Marshal "to the owners of fugitive slaves:"
"In the brig Samoset, Captain Stevens, who arrived on the 24th of February last, the undermentioned black and colored persons arrived here. They were sent from the port of London by the American Consul, as distressed seamen; but, having no papers or documents of any kind to prove their freedom, are held by the City Council, so as to give those who have lost slaves, sufficient time to come forward and claim their property." Then follows a list of the names, with a description of the men. "The above described persons of color, having been detained on suspicion of their being slaves, the gentlemen to whom they referred, as being well known, and who, they say, can prove their freedom, are requested to forward on sufficient evidence, so that they might, if free, be, immediately liberated," &c.This advertisement is dated March 5, and the answers from the evidence and from masters, if any, were to be sent in on or before the first day of the ensuing May; when these unfortunate men were to be disposed of "as the law directs." They would all of them, most probably, have been given up to unprincipled claimants, or sold to defray the costs of their detention, had not a benevolent man (Mr. William Turpin) come forward in their behalf. Having personally examined the poor fellows, he applied directly to the highest functionaries of the federal government, and succeeded in rescuing them from the fangs of the local jurisdiction. All of them were eventually discharged, with the exception of two, who were claimed as slaves, and another who, though well known to be a free citizen of Pennsylvania, had been sold by the son of the man to whom, by the abolition act, he was bound apprentice, and carried into Georgia. In his letter to the Secretary of State, (R. Rush, Esq.,) Mr. Turpin says, --"Only consider, that although Mr. Campbell has vouchers for most of these seamen, that would prove their freedom anywhere to North or East of Maryland, yet if the City Council or City Marshal had, or even any city constable now should contend, by the strictness of our laws, they must be condemned to slavery, except white persons should come here and identify them to be freemen."
In his letter to the Vice-President, (D. D. Tomkins, Esq.,) his words are --"In this State the laws and policy are that every colored person is a slave, until he can prove his freedom. Any person has a right to take up any negro, that has not proper vouchers of his freedom, put him in the house of correction, where negroes are daily sent to be whipt, and advertise him a certain time. If no one appears, he is sold to pay expenses. The laws punish a man with death for stealing a slave: yet only last month a man was indicted for kidnapping a free black, and selling him in the western country, where he never can be found. The indictment only charged him with an assault and battery, and false imprisonment in some place unknown."
We may observe here, that a man can thus have a more valuable property in the limbs of another than he has in his own. The whole of the correspondence that passed on this occasion, was submitted to my perusal by Mr. Turpin, who was then at the advanced age of eighty, living at New York. He strongly enjoined me not to publish his name, as he had an intention to visit Charleston, and was fearful for his own safety, should it be known there that he had communicated to me what I have here stated. He is now no more. He is gone where his good deeds will not condemn him. Among the letters he lent me was one from Jonathan Hunn, of the Society of Friends, dated from Camden, State of Delaware. I subjoin the postscript.
"There is a person from this place, Henry M. Godwin, now at Columbia, (South Carolina,) after a number of free blacks who have been kidnapped in this part of the country, by inhuman human monsters, and carried off from all that man holds dear by Southern soul-drivers. The blacks were stopt and liberated by Claibourn Clifton of that place. I received a letter from H. M. Godwin a day or two back, informing me of his safe arrival at Columbia. He informed me he had seen most of the blacks, and understood there were many more around in the neighborhood of Columbia, not more than twenty miles distant; and that C. C. wished him to see them. It is astonishing the number of free blacks that have been kidnapped not many miles from this place."*
I will add another document that I found among Mr. Turpin's papers --as it will give some faint idea of a country where the charity of a dying man dares not express itself openly and directly. It is a clause in a will written by Moses Bradley, of Charleston, (S. C.,) who died in 1812: --it is as follows
* The Manumission Society of New York rescued, between 1810 and 1817, 292 free persons from the horrors of slavery. The kidnapper, however, still carries on his trade; as the slaver laughs at our boast of having snatched from his clutches no less than 26,506 victims from January 1, 1827, to January 1, 1833.
The attempt to put down an illegal traffic, which, in supplying a legal demand, affords a benefit beyond the risk of seizure, necessarily drives it into worse channels. The fault and the crime are in the legislature, which makes an arbitrary distinction between acts that are essentially the same. Damon Jones had as much natural right to the "services" of Mr. Gaston, as Mr. Gaston had to the "services" of Damon Jones; and the law, whether it punishes the one, or protects the other, for doing the same thing, violates and asserts the same principle at the same time.
"To the Society of Friends, called Quakers, in Philadelphia, I leave my servants named Minda, Andrew, Kitty, Susan, Nancy and child, with their issue for ever. The friends of humanity will not be puzzled to know my meaning. I appoint Daniel Latham and William Turpin, of this place, to take charge of these negroes, and to see that this part of my will is duly executed."I have mentioned one case of a British subject having been imprisoned unjustly; and another seems to have occurred not long ago. In the Times of Aug. 23,1833, is the report of a trial, in which the plaintiff, (Ferguson,) a colored man, recovered wages for the time during which he had been imprisoned in Charleston; the master of the vessel, who had engaged him for a fixed period, having made the loss of his services during his detention a set-off against his claim for the whole amount. Justice Bolland, before whom the trial took place, declared, that the laws of South Carolina could not set aside a pre-existing contract between parties not amenable to their jurisdiction. The man, it appeared, had gone out in the Oglethorpe, from Liverpool. If he was a British subject, no civil damages to him can compensate the nation to which he belongs for this gross insult.
The French nation has equal ground for complaint. There are some curious facts connected with this subject. At the latter end of April, 1830, the French Minister of the Marine informed the maritime Prefect of Cherbourg, that the legislature of Georgia had recently prohibited all vessels foreign or not) from entering her ports with colored persons on board, under the penalty of forty days rigorous quarantine, and the payment of all expenses attending the detention; besides giving security for the due discharge of such claims; the punishment for refusal being 500 dollars, and imprisonment for a time not exceeding three months. All captains of vessels sailing from France to America were to be notified of the regulations. In a few short months the minister's master was driven from his throne; and who were among the most active and the most applauded on that memorable occasion? Bissette and Fabien --two of those very men thus given up without a remonstrance to the jailers of Georgia. The colored subjects of France have now the same rights and privileges as others within her dominions; yet one of the former was imprisoned at Charleston, in South Carolina, and the captain (Chretin) who had taken him thither in his vessel, (le Jeune-Ernest,) was compelled to pay all the expenses. An account of this outrage was communicated by the aggrieved party to the public in December, 1833; but no redress, it appears, has been obtained or sought for an injury thus inflicted, contrary to the law of nations --the letter, as well as the spirit of treaties --and the constitution of the country where it was perpetrated *.
On the 16th of October I embarked on board the packet Montreal, and arrived, after a favorable passage of three weeks, at Portsmouth.
* To be a slave-holding community is to be exempt from the ordinary restraints of law and justice. The Antigua House of Assembly, not long ago, committed with perfect impunity an outrage, which the British House of Commons would not dare to propose. It imprisoned and ruined a British subject (Joseph Phillips) for refusing to give up his private papers. Though both Lord Goderich and Sir George Murray declared officially that the imprisonment appeared to have been "an unwarrantable exercise of power," yet the Solicitor-General, (Tindal,) after stating that there was "nothing in the laws of England which is at all analogous to this course of proceeding, or would give any sanction to it," gave it as his professional opinion, that he could "see no effectual redress, but by an appeal to the good sense and good feeling of the members of the house" of Assembly. Thus has one of the most active and disinterested friends of negro emancipation been robbed of all his property, and left, with a wife and four children, to toil, in his old age, for a mere pittance.
seemed as if the demon of cruelty was to accompany me back even to England,
and to exhibit its victims on the very ground to tread on which is to be
free. On board the ship was a black man who acted as waiter. He had been
to New York, with his wife, in search of a white man, who owed him 160
dollars, which the other had borrowed out of his hard-earned savings. He
had served in the American navy, in which his debtor was a lieutenant.
With great trouble, and after much delay, he had obtained payment of part
of the original sum: --less, however, than what the pursuit of it had cost
him. Interest was out of the question. I was told the rascal's name; but
such a man is beyond the reach of shame; and there are too many to keep
him in countenance, should he be wanting in that commodity. No one on board
knew that the poor fellow was married; though his wife was with him --a
very respectable, fair, young Englishwoman. At Portsmouth, where most of
the passengers landed, this man waited upon me, during three or four days
that I was detained by illness; and it was then that I was informed of
his marriage and his adventures.
at New York, he was obliged to visit his wife clandestinely at her brother's
house, and observe the utmost circumspection, to avoid the consequences
which the detection of this "guilty commerce" would have brought down upon
his head. Had the nature of the connexion transpired, his life would not
have been safe; and perhaps both husband and wife would have fallen victims
to popular fury. What a country to live in, where marriage carries with
it the dishonor and punishment of crime; and where natural affection cannot
be acknowledged without danger, nor indulged without deception! A more
honest, kindhearted creature I never saw. Every one in the packet spoke
well of Trusty; and his wife was equally admired for the mildness and patience
she displayed under severe indisposition. When I repaid him for the luggage
that had been brought on shore by a boat he had hired for me, he wished
some deduction should be made, on account of his own trunks; and in all
the disbursements he made for me, I found him scrupulously exact and fair-dealing.
The history he gave me of himself was unaccompanied with any expression
of complaint or resentment, and was elicited by questions, that some peculiar
circumstances I had remarked in his conduct, induced me to put to him.