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Inswer 4. Previous to the Revolutionary war, the number carried away in British ships was estimated at 38,000 annually. About 40,000 or 42,000 more were supposed to be carried away by the Portuguese, French, Dutch, Danes, and Americans.
This estimate, however, probably falls below the truth, as there is reason to believe that tre annual export of the Portuguese alone usually amounted to 25,000; and the number of slaves introduced into St. Domingo by the French, for some time before the revolution in that island, is known to have been very large.
For about two years after the breaking out of the maritime war of 1793, the slave trade on the west coast of Africa suffered a considerable interruption. The French and Dutch were entirely driven fromit, and the captures made from the English greatly discouraged their trade on that open and unprotected coast. Our maritime successes, and the capture of Dutch Guiana, combined to revive it, and the English share of the slave trade rose to the enormous amount of 55,000 slaves in a single year. The only other nations that, during this period, and down to the year 1810, were engaged in the slave trade of Western Africa, were the Portuguese and Americans. The number carried off by the Portuguese has been estimated at from 20,000 to 25,000 annually, and by the Americans about 15,000. Notwithstanding the prohibitory act of America which was passed in 1807, ships bearing the American flag continued to trade for slaves until 1809, when, in consequence of a decision in the English prize appeal courts, which rendered the American slave ships liable to capture and condemnation, that flag suddenly disappeared from the coast. Its place was almost instantaneously supplied by the Spanish flag, which, with one or two exceptions, was now seen for the first time on the African coast, engaged in covering the slave trade.
This sudden substitution of the Spanish for the American flag seemed to confirm what was established in a variety of instances by more direct testimony, that the slave trade, which now for the first time assumed a Spanish dress was in reality only the trade of other nations in disguise.
Query 5. To what parts of the continent of North or South America, or the islands in the West Indies, have these slaves been carried?
Answer 5. The slaves formerly taken from the coast by the French, Dutch, and Danes, were almost exclusively for the supply of their own colonies.
Until the abolition of the British and American slave trade, the Portuguese carried the slaves taken by them from the coast, with scarcely any exceptions, to the Brazils.
Subsequently to that event, the Portuguese flag was for some years employed in carrying cargoes of slaves to the Spanish colonies.
This practice, however, was greatly checked, at least, if not wholly suppressed, in consequence of instructions issued to British cruizers, authorizing them to bring in for adjudication such Portuguese ships as might be found carrying slaves to places not subject to the crown of Portugal.
For the last two or three years, therefore, the Portuguese flag has been almost exclusively used in carrying slaves to the Brazils.
Before the abolition of the American slave trade, a considerable number of slaves were constantly introduced into South Carolina and Louisiana. The chief part, however, of the American slave trade before that event, and nearly the whole of it afterwards, was carried on for the supply of the Spanish colonies.
From the year 1810, as has been already noticed, whatever slave trade may have been carried on by an American capital, has been under the disguise of either the Portuguese or Spanish flag, but chiefly of the latter.
The English for many years were in the habit of supplying the colonies of Spain with a considerable number of slaves. The remainder of the slaves they carried from the coast was distributed throughout their own colonies. Between the years 1795 and 1805, the largest share of their slave trade was carried on for the supply of Dutch Guiana, then in the possession of Great Britain, Trinidad, and the conquered colonies. Cuba also continued 10 receive a considerable supply of slaves from the English.
In 1805 Great Britain prohibited the slave trade for the supply of the colonies she had captured during the war, and in the following year prohibited that for the supply of the colonies of any foreign power whatever.
The whole of the slaves, therefore, taken from Africa by the English, in the years 1806 and 1807, excepting what may have been smuggled, must have been distributed among her old colonies, and, in the prospect of the approaching abolition of the British slave trade, that number was very considerable.
Query 6. What is the present extent and nature of the contraband trade in slaves?
Query 7. By what description of persons, under what flag, upon what part of the coast, and for the suppply of what market, is this illicit trade carried on?
Answers fi, 7. It would be impossible, by any probable estimate, to distinguish, at the present moment, the contraband slave trade from that which may be considered as legal. The whole of the slave trade, whether legal or contraband, which is now carried on from Western Africa, passes, with a very few exceptions, under the Spanish and Portuguese flags; the former being seen chiefly to the North of the equator, and the latter to the South of it. The fag, however, affords but a very slight presumption of the real national character of the adventurc. In the case of a very great majority of the vessels detained by our cruizers, it has proved a disguise assumed by the contraband trader in order to escape detention. Of the slaves exported from the Western coast of Africa, at the present time, estimated, as has been already said, at upwards of 50,000, probably a half is carried off under the Spanish, and the other half under the Portuguese flag. During the last months of 1814, and the first months of 1815, several ships bearing the French flag appeared on the African coast, and carried off eargoes of slaves
. Within the last 12 months, also, several vessels bearing the American flag have come upon the coast, professedly for the purpose of carrying on its innocent and legitimate commerce: meeting, however, as they conceived, with a convenient opportunity of carrying off a cargo of slaves for the Havana market, they have not scrupled to take them on board. Two vessels under these circumstances sailed from the Rio Nunez full of slaves, in January, 1816, and it is supposed reached the place of their destination in safety. Another vessel of the same description was captured in the Rio Pongas, in April, 1816, while employed in taking the slaves on board.
With these exceptions, the whole slave trade of Western Africa, for the last six or seven years, has been carried on, it is believed, under the flags of Spain and Portugal.
The Spanish Aag, however, is probably, in almost every case, a mere dis. quise, and covers not bona fide Spanish property, but the property of unlawful traders, whether English, American, or others.
It is a well known fact, that, until the year 1809 or 1810, the Spanish flag had not for a long time been engaged in the African slave trade, except in one or two instances. Its sudden and extensive appearance subsequently to that period furnishes, as has already been remarked, a very strong presumption of the fraudulent character of the adventurers which it is employed to protect
The ordinary course of proceeding is this: the ship belonging to the unlawful trader calls at the Havana or Teneriffe; for the most part at the former port. A nominal sale of ship and cargo is there effected to some Spanish house, and regular Spanish papers, and a nominal Spanish captain, having been obtained, and her reil captain having taken the character either of supercargo or passenger, she sails on her slave trading expedition as a Spanish ship.
Since the Portuguese have been restricted by treaty from trading for slaves on certain parts of the African coast, they have resorted to similar expedients for protecting their slave trading expeditions to places within the prohibited district; and at the present moment there is little doubt that a considerable part of the apparently Spanish slave trade which is carrying on to the North of the equator, where the Portuguese are forbidden to buy slaves, is really a Portuguese trade.
A farther use is now found for the Spanish flag, in protecting the French slave traders; and it is affirmed that the French ships fitted out in France for the slave trade call at Corunna for the purpose of effecting i nominal transfer of the property engaged in the illegal voyage to some Spanish house, and thus obtaining the requisite evidence of Spanish ownership.
In consequence of these uses to which the Spanish flag has been applied, a great increase of the apparently Spanish slave trade has taken place of late; and as the flag of that nation is permitted to range over the whole extent of the African coast, it seems to keep alive the slave trade in places from which it would otherwise have been shut out; and it has of late revived that trade in situations where it had been previously almost wholly extinguishred.
The Portuguese flag is now chiefly seen to the South of the equator, although sometimes the Portuguese traders do not hesitate still to resort to the rivers between Why law and the equator, even without a Spanish disguise. The only two cruizers which have recently visited that part of the coast found several ships under the Portuguese flag, openly trading for slaves, in Lago and the Bight of Benin.
În a great variety of cases the Portuguese flag has been found to cover the property of British or American slave traders.
It will doubtless be now. employed to protect also the slave traders of other nations by which the trade is prohibited. . The limitation of that flag to parts South of the line renders it less desirable for a general voyage to the unlawful trader, than the Spanish flag, which is under no local restriction.
The extraordinary facility with which a change may be effected in the na'tional character of a ship and cargo, intended to be employed in the slave trade, has been judicially established in a great variety of instances. The Brazils and the island of Cuba form the great marts of the sale of the slaves carried from the Western coast of Africa, exclusive of those stroggle:t into the British and restored French and Dutch colonies.
Query 8. Has this trade been lately carried on to a considerable extent on the coasts North of the equator?
Answer 8. The slave trade, under the circumstances stated in the answer to the last question, has certainly been carried on, during the last two years, to a great extent, on the African coast North of the equator.
Query 9. By what description of persons, and under what fag?
Query 10. Have those fraudulent slave traders come in armed vessels? and have they employed force in order to effectuate their purposes?
Answer 10. During the last two years many slave ships have come to the coast armed, and have employed force to effectuate their purposes.
Query 11. When interrupted, have they threatened to return with armed ships of a larger class?
Answer 11. They have, and in some instances have executed their threats. Query 12.
From whence are these armed contrabandists chiefly fitted out?
Answer 12. A few of these armed ships have come from the Brazils, and one or two from Martinique; but for the most part they have come from the United States, having first obtained a Spanish disguise at the Havana. They have consisted chiefly of vessels which had been employed as American privateers during the war, and which sail uncommonly fast. In more than one instance they have come in small squadrons of two or three vessels, for the purpose of attacking and carrying any armed vessel which might obstruct their proceedings.
Query 13. What has been the effect produced by their depredations on the coast North of the line?
Answer 13. The effects of these proceedings have been highly detrimental. Exclusive of all the evils which are inseparable from a slave trade under any circumstances, they have discouraged, and in some cases crushed the first efforts to extend agriculture and legitimate commerce, which had been produced in this quarter by the cessation for a time of the slave trade. Even the innocent commerce of Sierra Leone with the surrounding districts
, which had tended more than any thing else to give a steady impulse to the industry of the neighboring natives, has been subjected to outrage and spoliation, attended in some cases with the loss of life. They operate most fatally in another point of view. The native chiefs and traders, who began at length to be convinced, by the evidence of facts, that the abolition was likely to be permanently maintained, and that it was therefore absolutely necessary to engage heartily in schemes of cultivation, if they would preserve their influence, have learnt from recent events to distrust all such
assurances. Notwithstanding all that had been said and done, they now see the slave traders again sweeping the whole range of coast without molestation, nay, with the air of triumph and defiance. It will be long, therefore, before they are likely to yield to the same conviction respecting the purposes of the European Powers to abolish the slave trade which they had been led to admit. Even if effectual means should now be adopted for totally and finally abolishing this traffic, years will probably elapse before they will be induced to forego the expectation of its revival. It would be difficult fully to appreciate the deep and lasting injury inflicted on Northern Africa by the transactions of the last two or three years; and this injury will be the greater on this account, that, in the interior of that country at least, they do not discriminate with any accuracy between the different nations of Europe. They only know in general that the white men who had ceased to trade in
slaves, and who they understood were to trade no more in that commodity, except as smugglers, liable to be seized and punished, have now resumed the open, avowed, and uncontrolled practice of that traffic.
Query 14. What system do you conceive best calculated to repress this evil?
Answer 14. I do not apprehend that the evil can be repressed, or even very materially alleviated, unless the abolition be made total and universal; and, even then, unless the slave trade be pronounced to be felonious, and punished as such. At present no check whatever exists; not even that
very inadequate one, which, in time of war, arises from the right of search, exercised by belligerents. It may be expected, therefore, that the slave trade, instead of being diminished, will increase from day to day. Mere prohibitory acts, even should they be adopted by all the Powers of Europe, would be eluded, unless regulations adapted to the very peculiar circumstances of the case were devised for confirming them.
Query 15. What progress had there been made, during the war, to exclude the trade in slaves from the coast of Africa North of the line?
Answer 15. The progress had been very considerable, as has been shown above, and was shown more largely by authentic documents communicated to Lord Castlereagh and the Duke of Wellington in 1814. The restoration of peace in Europe has been attended with very disastrous effects to this part of Africa.
Query 16. What effects can be traced to have arisen from such exclu. sion upon the interior civilization, of industry, or upon the external commerce of this part of the coast, compared with what existed twenty years before?
Answer 16. In some remarks, drawn up in August, 1814, on the subject of the legitimate commerce of Africa, it was very clearly shown that, at that period, a very considerable effect had been produced by the exclusion of the slave trade from Northern Africa, imperfect as that exclusion was, on the external commerce; and consequently on the industry of that part of the coast, as compared with what existed twenty years before. Since 1814, the slave trade in Northern Africa has unhappily experienced a very considerable revival, and it is to be apprehended that a corresponding check may have been given to the progress of industry and legitimate commerce.
It is obviously only when the slave trade has been eradicated, that any marked progress in civilization can be expected. The existence of that trade is necessarily a bar to improvement. Supposing, however, that it should be effectually abolished, we are already in possession of very satisfactory evidence to show that there is nothing in the local circumstances of Africa, and as little in the character of her inhabitants, which would prevent, in their case at least, as rapid an advance in the arts of civilized life, and in the acquisition of moral and religious habits, as the world has witnessed in any other similar instance. A part of this evidence is derived from the colony of Sierra Leone. The population of that colony, in 1809, did not exceed 1500 souls, chiefly Africans. Since that time it has swelled to. upwards of 10,000. This large increase consists almost entirely of persons who, having been rescued, at different periods during the last seven years, from the holds of slave ships, may be supposed, at the time of their introduction, to have stood at the lowest point of mental and moral depression.
The population of Sierra Leone, therefore, at this time, exhibits all the *arying shades of civilization, (varying partly according to the time that has