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chose places to trade; and small craft are, also, constantly employed in carrying slaves from those places to St. Thomas, from which they are shipped across the Atlantic. These facts have been repeatedly proved in the court of vice admiralty here; for instance, in the case of the Ceres, Joanna, Carolina, Dos Almigos, &c. &c.
The islands of Cuba and Porto Rico are held out by the vessels under the Spanish flag, as their ports of destination, though there can be very little doubt but that many are intended for, and actually do unload at, the French West India islands. What becomes of the slaves after their arrival at the island of Cuba, is no part of this question.
The Portuguese carry the greatest part of their slaves to Brazil, though many vessels, as the General Silvera and the Temerario, were intended for the Havana. It clearly appears, from the cases of the Intrepida and others, that a very considerable trade in slaves is carried on between the Brazils and that place. It may also be proper to remark, that, from the open confessions of all the masters and supercargoes of slave vessels broughi in here, a most extensive slave trade is carried on at every part of the coast disiant from a British settlement. So eager are the slave traders to carry on tiis trade, that, after the cession of Goree and Senegal to France, but before the British troops had all left the former place, 200 slaves were actually exported from it. The Moorish princes are already ravaging the negro towns within their reach.
Query 8. Has this trade been lately carried on to a considerable extent on the coast North of the equator?
Answer 8. The preceding observations apply chiefly to the trade carried on North of the line; few of our cruizers go to the South of it, consequently very few vessels from that part of the coast are detained or sent in here. On this account it is difficult to form any opinion at this place on the trade carried on there, although no doubt can be entertained that it is still more extensive than that carried on to the North. Nearly all these observations are therefore intended for the trade North of the line, the extent and misery of which, though dreadful, are not one half of what is entailed on the western coast of this continent.
Query 9. By what description of persons, and under what flag?
Answer 9. It is impossible, from the art with which experience has taught them to cover their vessels, to say how much of the slave trade carried on is, bona fide, the property of the nation whose flag it bears; but, from the proportion of vessels amongst those sent to this port for adjudication, which have been clearly proved to be fraudulently disguised, there is no doubt but that much English, but more American property is engaged in it. The captain and supercargo are generally, also, Spanish subjects, though many instances have occurred to the contrary; and, during the war, the sailors were often of that nation. Since the war, however, this practice is altered The large American privateers have been completely fitted out in America, with the exception, perhaps, of the gratings, and have come to the Havana fully manned, where, a sale, or pretended sale, having taken place, a Spanish subject or two are put on board, whilst the American mate and sailors remain, engage for a new voyage, and come upon the coasts; and there is too much reason to believe, at present, that many English sailors are also engaged in these vessels. With the exception of the Portuguese flag in the Bight of Benin and Biafra, and the rivers near the line, the trade carried on to the North is chiefly under the Spanish flag; though a few vessels, like the Louis,
(French) Rebecca, (American) and two schooners (French) now said to be trading in slaves in the Gaboon, do now and then appear under their own Alag. Some vessels, as the Catilina, have been also fitted out from Jamaica.
Query 10. Have these fraudulent slave traders come in armed vessels? and have they employed force to effectuate their purpose?
Answer 10. The fact is so notorious, that the best answer to this query may be an enumeration of some cases concerning which we have certain information.
1st. The schooner, name unknown, which destroyed the brig Kitty, of Liverpool, murdered the master, (Roach) and carried the black people, two of whom were captured negroes of Sierra Leone, as slaves, to the Havana.
2d. The Camperdown, a brig of 16 guns, and a large complement of men, 'commanded by the same person as the preceding. She destroyed the sloops Rambler and Frial, belonging to this port, and carried the blacks off as slaves. It is supposed that she carried off at least 200 free blacks in her different voyages, as she made slaves of all the people going off in canoes. She had several skirmishes with the Princess Charlotte, and was once chased by the Creole and Astrea.
3d. The Laura Anna, taken in the Rio Nunez, where they were obliged to promise the sailors their wages to prevent an action.
4th. The Venganza, which fought the party sent to the Gambia after her, and at last blew up whilst engaging.
5th. The Moulatto, a large black schooner from the Havana, which made two or three voyages to the coast, carried off a great number of free negroes, and beat the Princess Charlotte off.
6th. A large black schooner, her companion, which also beat the Princess Charlotte off.
7th. The Paz, which, under the American flag, beat off the Princess Charlotte, and killed several of her men.
8th. The Leal, Portuguese, a large brig under Portuguese colors, with 12 or 14 guns, fought the Princess Charlotte of Lagos, for a long time, but was taken.
9th. The Rosa, formerly the American privateer Commodore Perry, fitted out in America, and manned with Americans, but supposed to be the property of an Englishman who was an old slave trader, and partner of Boostock at Mesurado, fought the boats of his majesty's ship Bann, and the commissioned sloop Mary, for some time, but was at length captured.
10th. The schooner Guadaloupe, taken by the Young Princess Charlotte; besides their regular charge of two round shot, ten guns were each of them loaded with bags of 500 musket balls. She was taken by boarding.
11th. Brig Temerario, from Brazil. She was built on purpose for this forced trade, has 18 guns, which were cast on purpose, with her name on them. She made one voyage to the coast, when she was chased by the Princess Charlotte, but escaped. On her second voyage she was taken, after an action of two hours, by his majesty's ship Bann. She had a complement of 80 men.
12th. Schooner Dolores, formerly American schooner Commodore M'Donough, said to belong to an English house in the Havana, taken, after a severe action, by his majesty's ship Forrest.
13th. Brig Nueva Paz, formerly the American privateer Argus, fitted from America, though supposed in part to be British property, and manned with Americans and English. She took and plundered the schooner Apollo,
of this port, and made an attack on the Prince Regent, but was captured by boarding, after a short but severe action.
14th. Schooner Carmen, from Brazils, taken for slave trading to the North of the line.
15th. Schooner Triumpħante, from Havana, late the American privateer Criterion, of sixteen guns, commanded by a Portuguese subject, taken by the boats of the Prince Regent, after a severe actioni, in the river Cameroons.
16th. American schooner Dorset, from Baltimore direct, called the Spanish schooner Triumvirate, with an American supercargo, a Spanish captain, and American, French, English, and Spanish crew, taken after a smart action in the Rio Pongas, last January, by a vessel from this place.
17th. A large schooner, name unknown, supposed from the Havana, took and plundered the brig Industry, of this port, last November, and carried the greatest part of the crew off as slaves.
18th. Saucy Jack, an American privateer, which carried off a cargo of slaves in 1814, and I believed convoyed several vessels to and from the coast: he boarded, but did not molest, a sloop from this place to Gopee, with rice.
These are specified instances, which have all been proved before some court of Justice; and it is notorious that these are not one eighth part of the vessels of this description, which come on the coast for the purpose of carrying on this trade.
It has also lately become the practice of these' vessels to sail in company: Captain Lawson, of the ship Diana, wished last year to seize one in the rivet Bonny, (or Calabar,) but durst not; and Captain Hogan, during his last cruize in the Prince Regent, looked into their rivers, but durst not go in, though he had a crew of 120 men.
Query 11. When interrupted, have they threatened to return with armed ships of a larger class?
Answer 11. Yes, almost uniformly; although, from the universality of the trade, it is difficult to remember every particular instance.
The Neuva Paz was one where the threat was put in execution; and one of the most violent of the slave traders has very lately returned to the Gallinas, and sent up a message by an American, that he was waiting for the Prince Regent. Unfortunately, she was unrigged, and repairing at Bance Island, which gave an opportunity to the trader of carrying off a cargo of slaves. The Dolores and Temerario were avowedly fitted up for the destruction of the colonial brig; and there can be no doubt but that very violent and powerful attempts will be made for that purpose, as, from the great annoyance she has been to the slave traders, the constant terror which has existed of her being found between Cape Verd and Cape Palmas, a circumstance which has prevented many vessels from carrying on the slave trade in these limits, and from the number of vessels she has' captured, she is the greatest object of hatred and detestation to the slave merchants.
Query 12. From whence are these armed contrabandists chiefly fitted out?
Answer 12. The Havana is the port from which the majority of these vessels are fitted out, though many of them, as the old American privateers, are fitted out in America, and only go to the Havana for papers; and whilst some, like the Triumvirata, also Dorset, have the papers carried from Havana to America, a few, like the Louis, are fitted out from the French islands; and the Portuguese come from the Brazils.
Query 13. What has been the effect produced by their depredations on the north coast of the line?
Answer 13. The worst consequence of this contraband trade, as far as respects the civilization of the coast, and the turning of the natives from this inhuman and destructive trade to the arts of social life and the pursuits of an innocent commerce, is, that the natives will never believe that the abolition is really to take place; and as long as one slave ship is allowed to visit the coast, the natives will always be looking forward to more, and will never believe it to be for their interest to change their present pursuits.
There can be no doubt but that the natives, immediately after the English abolition act took place, were more inclined to believe in the probability of an universal abolition of the trade than they are now. A stop was put to the trade for some time, and it was nearly two years before the slave iraders took to other flags; and in this interim the natives began to look forward to some other means of procuring the luxuries and necessaries of life. A few vessels, with American and English men and papers, and a foreign flag, began at last to appear, and the hopes of the slave factors for a renewal of this trade to revive; and it is now increased to such an extent, that the slave traders who frequent the part of the coast near Sierra Leone, destroy every vessel they meet, unless of very considerable force, and these they drive away. This at first had merely the effect of injuring the owners of these vessels; but the practice being continued, and the slave traders having declared their determination to persist in it, whatever might be the consequence, no English vessel, especially if connected with this place, dare show itself on the neighboring coasts. The result of which is clear; the innocent coasting trade is completely destroyed; nothing but a large English vessel dare go; these go but seldom; and the natives, thus deprived of every other means of acquiring what to them have by habit become necessaries of life, must engage in the slave trade.
Query 14. What system do you conceive best calculated to repair this evil?
Answer 14. This certainly is a question which requires the greatest consideration, and which will be very difficult to solve: as, however, we have the advantage of some experience to guide us, we may be more able to decide it now, with a prospect of success, than any person could have done in 1807.
The following points must be firmly established before any adequate success can be expected to follow the greatest efforts:
1st That the prohibition be positive and universal, and that all persons agree in the same regulations for its extinction.
2d. That the penalties inflicted on persons and property engaged in it be severe and certain.
3d. That power be given to all the contracting parties to enforce these regulations; that the force employed for this purpose be adequate to the object for which it is intended; and that the remuneration offered to the persons employed in this service be certain, and easily obtained.
It must be ciear and evident, that, whilst any one power is allowed to carry on the trade, the subjects of the other powers, wishing to be engaged in it, will cover themselves with the flag of the permitting power; and, from the experience these men have had in the art of fraudulent disguise, will cover themselves beyond the possibility of detection. We need look no further for a proof of this than to the difference between the Spanish slave trade before the war, in the years 1808, 1809, and now.
It is also clear, that, to make this a common cause, and not the cause of each State entering into the agteement, the regulations, provisions, and penalties, attached to it should be the same in all; and that it should not only be agreed upon between the States, but that every individual State should make a positive internal law upon the subject, embracing all the regulations, &c. And this is the more necessary, to prevent any future collisions or jealousies in enforcing the penalties; for if the parties are honest in the cause, and the penalties to be inflicted by all the parties are equal, no difficulties Can arise; but if they are unequal, a very great ground is laid for complaints, reproaches, and disputes, which would at once destroy every thing which had previously been done.
As this may be a matter of much dispute, the following plan is proposed, as less liable to objection:
That all property found engaged in the trade, either in the inception, the prosecution, or the conclusion, be confiscated to the seizor's use, either by the courts of his own country, or by a tribunal to be speciaily appointed for that purpose.
That the sentence of inferior courts be final and conclusive, whenever slaves are found on bnard.
That an appeal be allowed if no slaves are on board. That some further punishment should be inflicted on the parties engaged, which, in case of resistance, should be much severer than when none was made; and that this punishment should be inflicted as agreed on between the contracting parties.
That death should be inflicted by the courts of the party's own country, on the officers of any ship where free natives had been kidnapped, or any persons killed by their piratical resistance.
Neither agreements, regulations, or penalties, will be of any use, unless the contracting parties are determined, one and all, to enforce them upon every person found engaged in the trade, and also to use every means of detecting them. This is an object which cannot be obtained with a small force. A large one must at first be employed; but there is every reason to believe that this force, if actively and properly employed, would soon render it safe to reduce it.
The whole coast of Africa will be frequented by the smugglers; and smugglers there will be, unless some very energetic measures are adopted to prevent the importation of slaves into the transatlantic world; and it is not to be supposed for a moment that the coast of Africa can be guarded by one ship.
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 16. Whatever exclusion has taken place during the last war, must be attributed chiefly to the war itself, and the activity of the officers employed. Generally one, sometimes two, and now and then three ships of war, were on the coast. After the settlement was formed in the Gambia, the slave trade was completely excluded to the Northward of Bissao. The trade between that place and Popo was reduced, from a most extensive and open trade, to a comparatively small and smuggling one. It was entirely suppressed for a considerable distance round the British settlements.
Query 16. What effect can be traced, to have arisen from such exclusion, upon the interior civilization and industry, or upon the external commerce of this part of of the coast, compared with what existed twenty years before?