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dags remain as a cover for this traffic, against the right of search by any vessels except of the same nation, the chance of detection will be much less than it would be if the right of search was extended to vessels of other Powers; and as soon as any one nation should cease to be vigilant in the discovery of infractions practised on its own code, the slave dealers would avail themselves of a system of obtaining fraudulent papers, and concealing the real ownership under the cover of such flags; which would be carried on with such address, as to render it easy for the citizens or subjects of one State to evade their own municipal laws: but, if a concerted system existed, and a qualitied right of mutual search was granted, the apprehension of these piratical offenders would be reduced to a much greater certainty; and the very knowledge of the existence of an active and vigorous system of cooperation would divert many from this traffic, as the unlawful trade would become too hazardous for profitable speculation
In relation to any inconveniences that might result from such an arrangement, the commerce of the United States so limited on the African coast that it could not be much effected by it; and, as it regards economy, the expense of stationing a few vessels on that coast would not be much greater than to maintain them at any other place.
The committee have briefly noticed the practical results of a reciprocal right of search, as it bears on the slave trade; but the objection as to the propriety of ceding this right remains. It is with deference that the committee undertake to make any remarks upon it. They bear in recollection the opinions entertained in this country, on the practice of searching neutral vessels in time of war; but they cannot perceive that the right under discussion is, in principle, allied, in any degree, to the general question of search; it can involve no commitment, nor is it susceptible of any unfavorable inference on that subject; and even if there were any affinity between the cares, the necessity of a special agreement would be inconsistent with the idea of existing rights: the proposal itself, in the manner made, is a total abandonment, on the part of England, of any claim to visit and search ves. sels in a time of peace, and this question has been unequivocally decided in the negative in her admiralty courts.
Although it is not among the objections that the desired arrangement would give color to a claim or right of search in time of peace, yet, lest the case in this respect may be prejudiced in the minds of any, the committee will observe, that the right of search, in time of peace, is one that is not claimed by any Power as a part of the law of nations; no nation pretends that it can exercise the right of visitation and search upon the common and unappropriated parts of the sea, except upon the belligerent claim. A recent decision in the British admiralty court, in the case of the French slave ship Le Louis, is clear and decisive on this point. The case is annexed to this re. port.
In rrgard, then, to the reciprocal right wished to be ccded, it is reduced to the simple inquiry whether, in practice, it will be beneficial to the two contracting nations. Its exercise, so far as it relates to the detention of vessels, as it is contined to the fact of slaves being actually on board, precludes almost the possibility of accident or much couvenience.
In relation also to the disposal of the vessels and slaves detained, an arrangement perhaps could be effected, so as to deliver them up to the vessels of the nation to which the detained vessel should belong. Under such an understanding, the vessels and slaves delivered to the jurisdiction of the United States might be disposed of in conformity with the provisions of our own act of the 3d of March, 1819; and an arrangement of this kind would be free from any of the other objections.
An exchange of the right of search, limited in duration, or to continue at pleasure, for the sake of experiment, might, it is anxiously hoped, be so restricted to vessels and seas, and with such civil and harmonious stipulations, as not to be unacceptable.
The feelings of this country on the general question of search have often been roused to a degree of excitement that evince their uncha:geable character; but the American people will readily see the distinction between the cases; the one on its exercise, to the extent claimed, will ever produce irritation, and excite a patriotic spirit of resistance; the other is amicable and charitable; the justness and nobleness of the undertaking are worthy of the combined concern of Christian nations.
The detestable crime of kidnapping the unoffending inhabitants of one country, and chaining them to slavery in another, is marked with all the atrociousness of piracy; and, as such, it is stigmatized, and punishable by our own laws.
To efface this reproachful stain from the character of civilized mankind, would be the proudest triumph that could be achieved in the cause of humanity. On this subject the United States, having lel the way, owe it to themselves to give their influence and cordial co-operation to any measure that will accomplish the great and good purpose; but this happy result, experience has demonstrated, cannot be realized by any system, except a concession by the maritime Powers to each other's ships of war, of a qualified right of search; if this object was generaliy attained, it is confidently believed that the active exertions of even a few nations would be sufficient entirely to suppress the slave trade.
The slave dealers could be successfully assailed on the coast upon which the trade originates, as they must necessarily consume more time in the collection and embarkation of their cargoes than in the subsequent distribution in the markets for which they are destined; this renders :hat coast the most advantageous position for their apprehension; and, besides, the African toast frequented by the slave ships is indented with so few commodious or accessible harbors, that, notwithstanding its great extent, it could be guarded by the vigilance of a small number of cruisers. But, if the slave ships are permitted to escape from the African coast, and to be dispersed to different parts of the world, their capture would be rendered uncertain and hopeless.
The committee, after much reflection, offer the following resolution:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be requested to enter into such arrangements as he may deem suitable and proper, with one or more of the maritime powers of Europe, for the effectual abolition of the African slave trade.
NAVY DEPARTMENT, February 7, 1821. SIR: I have the honor to transmit to you such information as this Department affords upon the subject of the slave trade, in answer to your letter of the 30th of January last.
The enclosed copy, No. 1, of a circular of the United States' District A& torneys and Marshals, has been answered, generally, that no slaves have been brought into their respective districts, with the exception of Maryland, South Carolina, and Georgia; answers have not been received from Louis siana.
There appears to have been partial captures made upon the coast, and in the neighborhood of Georgia, by the public vessels of the United States; the slaves, in some cases, have been bonded out to individuals until adjudication.
The slave trade has been checked by our cruizers upon the Southern coasts of the United States, and no great attempts appear to have been made to introduce slaves through illicit channels.
There are now in charge of the Marshal of Georgia two hundred and forty-eight Africans, taken out of a South American privateer, the General Ramirez, whose crew mutinied, and brought the vessel into St. Mary's, Georgia; sixty more are in custody of the Marshal, detained and maintained in the vicinity of Savannah; forty or fifty more have been sent out of the State; under what orders it is not known.
The ships cruising on the coast of Africa, during the last year, captured the following vessels engaged in the slave trade, but having no slaves or board at the time, viz: Schooner Endymion,
These vessels have been condemned in the District Courts of the New York and Massachusetts; and their commanders sentenced to fine and imprisonment, under the acts of Congress.
The most detailed information that has been communicated to this Department, in relation to the slave trade, will be found in the enclosed copy, No 2, from the late United States' agent, then resident in Africa, but since deceased.
I have the honor to be,
With great respect, sir,
Chairman of the Committee on Slave Trade, H. R.
Navy DEPARTMENT, 13th January, 1821: Sir: I duly received your letter of the 25th November last, an answer to which has been delayed by the urgency of public business.
I request you will be pleased to inform me what disposition has been made of the two hundred and fifty-eight Africans mentioned in your letter;
It is and what expense, if any, has been incurred for their safe keeping. very desirable to save further expenses-by an early decision of their case.
•The information contained in this paragraph is not derived from any official source: it is nevertheless believed to be correct.
I wish also to be informed upon the cases of all others within your jurisdiction, and coming within the execution of the laws for prohibiting and suppressing the slave trade.
I am, very respectfully,
SMITH THOMPSON, John H. MOREL, Esq.
Marshal of the district of Georgia, Savannah.
Extract of a letter from the Rev. Samuel Bacon, to the Secretary of the
CAMPELAR, (Sherbro Island,) 21st March, 1820. “ The slave trade is carried on briskly in this neighborhood: had I authority so to do, I could take a vessel lying within the floating of one tide, say 25 miles from us, in the Sherbro, under American colors, taking in a cargo of slaves. Their policy is to come with a cargo of goods suited to the market, deliver it to a slave factor on shore, and contract for slaves. They then lie at anchor in the river, or stand out to sea for a specified number of days, till the slaves are all procured and brought to the beach, and placed under a hovel or shed prepared for the purpose, all chained two and two. At the appointed time, or on a concerted signal, the vessel comes in and takes her slaves on board, and is off in an hour. This is rendered necessary, as they cannot be seized unless they have slaves on board; and they are watched by the cruisers, so as to be taken when they have slaves with them. The Augusta, (the schooner I purchased) is a vessel of 104 tons, a swift sailer, and was intended to take a cargo of 100; she has a camboose fitted to boil rice in large quantities. Slaves receive one pint each per day.''
UNITED STATES' Ship CYANE,
Off Sierra Leone, April 10, 1820. During our stay at Sierra Leone, the European gentlemen who were residents at the place treated us with the utmost respect, striving who should be most forward in attention and hospitality. A party was formed by those gentlemen to show our officers the interior settlements; and from their report on their return, I learned the extent of the colony, and the benevolent philanthropy of the British nation, in alleviating the miseries of the oppressed and ignorant Africans. Not less than six thousand captured Africans have been landed at this settlement by the British ships of war. On their arrival, those of a proper age are named and sent to the adjacent villages. A house and lot is appointed to each family, and they are supported one year by government, at the expiration of which they are obliged to look out for themselves. The captured children are also sent to the villages, where they are kept at school till married, which is always at an early age. At the head of each village is a missionary, who receives his annual support from the government, and who acts in the double capacity of minister and schoolmaster.
Lieutenant Cooper and myself walked through the villages situated to the westward of Sierra Leone. We landed at King Town, the former residence of King Tom. The house in which the king resided is in ruins, and almost hidden from view by shrubbery. From thence we proceeded to Kroo Town, a small village, inhabited by about five hundred Kroomen. The British ships of war on this station liave each from twenty-five to seventy of these men on their books.
The trade of this place is considerable. Several vessels entered and sailed during our short stay; many of them were loaded with ship timber, which is somewhat like our white oak. The other articles of trade are ivory, cimwood, wax, and palm oil. We sent a boat from Sierra Leone for Mr Bacon, who came up, and remained with us two days. He has already settled himself, with his followers, (until after the rain,) on Sherbro Island.. I fear this island will not answer his wishes; it is low, unhealthy, difficult of access for ships, and is not very fertile. There are many places to leeward possessing greater advantages, one of which I hope he will select for a permanent settlement.
After remaining nine days at Sierra Leone, we sailed for the Gallinas, a place of resort for slave vessels; since which, we have made ten captures; some by fair sailing, others by boats and stratagem. Although they are evidently owned by Americans, they are so completely covered by Spanish papers, that it is impossible to condemn them. Two schooners, the Endymion and Esperanza, were sent home. We shall leave the coast in the course of three or four days, for Port Praya, from whence we shall proceed to Teneriffe for provisions.
The slave trade is carried on to a very great extent. There are, probably, not less than three hundred vessels on the coast, engaged in that traffic, each having two or three sets of papers. I sincerely hope government have revised the law, giving us more authority. You have no idea how cruelly these poor creatures are treated by the monsters engaged in taking them from the coast.
Case of the French slave ship Le Louis, extracted from the 12th annual
report of the African Institution, printed in 1818, This vessel sailed from Martinique on the 30th of January, 1816, on a slave trading voyage to the coast of Africa, and was captured near Cape Mesurado, by the Sierra Leone colonial vessel of war, the Queen Charlotte, after a severe engagement, which followed an attempt to escape, in which eight men were killed and twelve wounded of the British; and proceedings having been instituted against Le Louis in the Vice Admiralty court of Sierra Leone, as belonging to French subjects, and as fitted out, manned, and navigated, for the purpose of carrying on the slave trade, after the trade had been abolished both by the internal laws of France, and by the treaty between that country and Great Britain, the ship and cargo were condemned as forfeited to his majesty.
From this sentence, an appeal having been made to the High Court of Admiralty, the case came on for hearing, when the court reversed the judgment of the inferior court, and ordered the restitution of the property to the claimants.