Thesis on african slave trade

THE significance ofthe Atlantic slave trade for African history has been the subject of The transformation thesis identifies slavery as a central feature of African.
Table of contents

The study begins with the colonial period, setting forth in brief the attitude of England and, more in detail, the attitude of the planting, farming, and trading groups of colonies toward the slave-trade. It deals next with the first concerted effort against the trade and with the further action of the individual States.

The important work of the Constitutional Convention follows, together with the history of the trade in that critical period which preceded the Act of The attempt to suppress the trade from to is next recounted. A chapter then deals with the slave-trade as an international problem. Finally the development of the crises up to the Civil War is studied, together with the steps leading to the final suppression; and a concluding chapter seeks to sum up the results of the investigation.

Throughout the monograph the institution of slavery and the interstate slave-trade are considered only incidentally.

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The Rise of the English Slave-Trade. Any attempt to consider the attitude of the English colonies toward the African slave-trade must be prefaced by a word as to the attitude of England herself and the development of the trade in her hands. Sir John Hawkins's celebrated voyage took place in , but probably not until 2 did a regular chartered company 10 undertake to carry on the trade.

In Parliamentary interference with the trade began. This was brought about by the clamor of the merchants, especially the "American Merchants," who "in their Petition suggest, that it would be a great Benefit to the Kingdom to secure the Trade by maintaining Forts and Castles there, with an equal Duty upon all Goods exported.

Having thus gained practically free admittance to the field, English merchants sought to exclude other nations by securing a monopoly of the lucrative Spanish colonial slave-trade. The Assiento was a treaty between England and Spain by which the latter granted the former a monopoly of the Spanish colonial slave-trade for thirty years, and England engaged to supply the colonies within that time with at least , slaves, at the rate of 4, per year. The kings of Spain and England were each to receive one-fourth of the profits of the trade, and the Royal African Company were authorized to import as many slaves as they wished above the specified number in the first twenty-five years, and to sell them, except in three ports, at any price they could get.

It is stated that, in the twenty years from to , fifteen thousand slaves were annually imported into America by the English, of whom from one-third to one-half went to the Spanish colonies. The war interrupted the carrying out of the contract, but the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle extended the limit by four years. Finally, October 5, , this privilege was waived for a money consideration paid to England; the Assiento was ended, and the Royal Company was bankrupt.

By the Statute 23 George II. This marked the total abolition of monopoly in the 12 slave-trade, and was the form under which the trade was carried on until after the American Revolution. That the slave-trade was the very life of the colonies had, by , become an almost unquestioned axiom in British practical economics. The colonists themselves declared slaves "the strength and sinews of this western world," 12 and the lack of them "the grand obstruction" 13 here, as the settlements "cannot subsist without supplies of them.

Then, too, she readily argued that what was an economic necessity in Jamaica and the Barbadoes could scarcely be disadvantageous to Carolina, Virginia, or even New York. Consequently, the colonial governors were generally instructed to "give all due encouragement and invitation to merchants and others, It is our Will and Pleasure that you do not give your assent to or pass any Law imposing duties upon Negroes imported into our Province of North Carolina.

The exact proportions of the slave-trade to America can be but approximately determined. From to the African Company sent ships to Africa, shipped there 60, 13 Negro slaves, and after losing 14, on the middle passage, delivered 46, in America. The trade increased early in the eighteenth century, ships clearing for Africa in ; it then dwindled until the signing of the Assiento, standing at 74 clearances in The final dissolution of the monopoly in led—excepting in the years —57, when the closing of Spanish marts sensibly affected the trade—to an extraordinary development, clearances being made in The Revolutionary War nearly stopped the traffic; but by the clearances had risen again to To these figures must be added the unregistered trade of Americans and foreigners.

It is probable that about 25, slaves were brought to America each year between and The importation then dwindled, but rose after the Assiento to perhaps 30, The proportion, too, of these slaves carried to the continent now began to increase. Of about 20, whom the English annually imported from to , South Carolina alone received some 3, Before the Revolution, the total exportation to America is variously estimated as between 40, and , each year.

Bancroft places the total slave population of the continental colonies at 59, in , 78, in , and , in The census of showed , slaves in the United States. In colonies like those in the West Indies and in South Carolina and Georgia, the rapid importation into America of a multitude of savages gave rise to a system of slavery far different from that which the late Civil War abolished.

The strikingly harsh and even inhuman slave codes in these colonies show this. Crucifixion, burning, and starvation were legal modes of punishment. The docility to which long years of bondage and strict discipline gave rise was absent, and in 14 surrections and acts of violence were of frequent occurrence. This condition of vague dread and unrest not only increased the severity of laws and strengthened the police system, but was the prime motive back of all the earlier efforts to check the further importation of slaves.

On the other hand, in New England and New York the Negroes were merely house servants or farm hands, and were treated neither better nor worse than servants in general in those days. Between these two extremes, the system of slavery varied from a mild serfdom in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to an aristocratic caste system in Maryland and Virginia.

London, Bandinel, Account of the Slave Trade , pp. Sainsbury, Cal. State Papers, Col. Indies, — , p. Indies, — , pp.

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Part I. The proceeds of these duties went to the Royal African Company. Appendix A. Indies London, , Book VI. Report , etc. Indies, — For similar instructions, cf.

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Archives , I. New York , VI.

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Part IV. Benezet, Historical Account of Guinea , p. Character of these Colonies. The planting colonies are those Southern settlements whose climate and character destined them to be the chief theatre of North American slavery. The early attitude of these communities toward the slave-trade is therefore of peculiar interest; for their action was of necessity largely decisive for the future of the trade and for the institution in North America. Theirs was the only soil, climate, and society suited to slavery; in the other colonies, with few exceptions, the institution was by these same factors doomed from the beginning.

Hence, only strong moral and political motives could in the planting colonies overthrow or check a traffic so favored by the mother country. Restrictions in Georgia. In Georgia we have an example of a community whose philanthropic founders sought to impose upon it a code of morals higher than the colonists wished. The settlers of Georgia were of even worse moral fibre than their slave-trading and whiskey-using neighbors in Carolina and Virginia; yet Oglethorpe and the London proprietors prohibited from the beginning both the rum and the slave traffic, refusing to "suffer slavery which is against the Gospel as well as the fundamental law of England to be authorised under our authority.

This policy greatly displeased the colonists, who from , the date of the first law, to , did not cease to clamor for the repeal of the restrictions. Negroes were brought across from Carolina and "hired" for life.


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Restrictions in South Carolina. This was owing to the character of her settlers, her nearness to the West Indian slave marts, and the early development of certain staple crops, such as rice, which were adapted to slave labor. As early as the slave-trade to South Carolina had reached such proportions that it was thought that "the great number of negroes which of late have been imported into this Collony may endanger the safety thereof. About the time when the Assiento was signed, the slave-trade so increased that, scarcely a year after the consummation of that momentous agreement, two heavy duty acts were passed, because "the number of Negroes do extremely increase in this Province, and through the afflicting providence of God, the white persons do not proportionately multiply, by reason whereof, the safety of the said Province is greatly endangered.

Insurrections against us have been often attempted.

This act was promptly disallowed by the Privy Council and 19 the governor reprimanded; 18 but the colony declared that "an importation of negroes, equal in number to what have been imported of late years, may prove of the most dangerous consequence in many respects to this Province, and the best way to obviate such danger will be by imposing such an additional duty upon them as may totally prevent the evils.

The war made a great change in the situation. It has been computed by good judges that, between the years and , the State of South Carolina lost twenty-five thousand Negroes, by actual hostilities, plunder of the British, runaways, etc. After the war the trade quickly revived, and considerable revenue was raised from duty acts until , when by act and ordinance the slave-trade was totally prohibited. Restrictions in North Carolina. In early times there were few slaves in North Carolina; 22 this fact, together with the troubled and turbulent state of affairs during the early colonial period, did not necessitate the adoption of any settled policy toward slavery or the slave-trade.

Later the slave-trade to the colony increased; but there is no evidence of any effort to restrict or in any way regulate it before , when it was declared that "the importation of slaves into this State is productive of evil consequences and highly impolitic," 23 and a prohibitive duty was laid on them. Restrictions in Virginia. Her situation, 20 however, differed considerably from that of her Southern neighbor. The climate, the staple tobacco crop, and the society of Virginia were favorable to a system of domestic slavery, but one which tended to develop into a patriarchal serfdom rather than into a slave-consuming industrial hierarchy.

The labor required by the tobacco crop was less unhealthy than that connected with the rice crop, and the Virginians were, perhaps, on a somewhat higher moral plane than the Carolinians. There was consequently no such insatiable demand for slaves in the larger colony. On the other hand, the power of the Virginia executive was peculiarly strong, and it was not possible here to thwart the slave-trade policy of the home government as easily as elsewhere.

Considering all these circumstances, it is somewhat difficult to determine just what was the attitude of the early Virginians toward the slave-trade. There is evidence, however, to show that although they desired the slave-trade, the rate at which the Negroes were brought in soon alarmed them.

With 21 begins a series of acts extending down to the Revolution, which, so far as their contents can be ascertained, seem to have been designed effectually to check the slave-trade. Some of these acts, like those of and , were almost immediately disallowed. As now the Burgesses became more powerful, two or more bills proposing restrictive duties were passed, but disallowed.

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Deeply impressed with these sentiments, we most humbly beseech your Majesty to remove all those restraints on your Majesty's governors of this colony, which inhibit their assenting to such laws as might check so very pernicious a commerce. Nothing further appears to have been done before the war. When, in , the delegates adopted a Frame of Government, it was charged in this document that the king had perverted his high office into a "detestable and insupportable tyranny, by Restrictions in Maryland.

The Act of , laying a duty of 40 s. The duties were slowly increased to 50 s. Compared with the trade to Virginia and the Carolinas, the slave-trade to Maryland was small, and seems at no time to have reached proportions which alarmed the inhabitants. It was regulated to the economic demand by a slowly increasing tariff, and finally, after , had nearly ceased of its own accord before the restrictive legislation of Revolutionary times. General Character of these Restrictions. We find in the planting colonies all degrees of advocacy of the trade, from the passiveness of Maryland to the clamor of Georgia.

Opposition to the trade did not appear in Georgia, was based almost solely on political fear of insurrection in Carolina, and sprang largely from the same motive in Virginia, mingled with some moral repugnance.