Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

request forthwith instructions on this subject from their respective courts, ir the event of their not being provided with sufficient authority to negotiate such a convention.

Lord Castlereagh then reads several reports derived from different societies occupied in the abolition of the slave trade, relative to the extent and nature of this traffic on the coast of Africa, and requests the insertion in the protocol of the proposition above stated, together with the said reports, as annexes thereunto. All these documents are inserted sub litt. A, B, C, D.

The plenipotentiaries agree to invite verbally Count Palmella, Minister of Portugal, to assist at the ensuing conference on the abolition of the slave trade, and adjourn for the present the further consideration of the subject.

CASTLEREXGH,
LIEVEN,
ESTERHAZY,
OSMOND,
HUMBOLDT.

FIRST ENCLOSURE IN No. 2.

Annex A to the protocol of the conference of the 4th of February, 1818.

MEMORANDUM OF VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH.

In laying before the Conference the reports received from the African societies in London, in answer to the queries addressed to them by his Majesty's government, upon the present state of the slave trade, as connected with the improvement and civilization of Africa, Lord Castlereagh (the reports being read) called the attention of his colleagues to the following prominent facts.

That a considerable revival of the slave trade had taken place, especially on the coast of Africa North of the line, since the restoration of

peace;

and that the principal part of this traffic being now of an illicit description, the parties engaged in it had adopted the practice of carrying it on in armed and fast sailing vessels:

That the ships engaged in this armed traffic not only threatened resistance to all legal attempts to repress the same, but, by their piratical practices, menaced the legitimate commerce of all nations on the coast with destruction:

That the traffic thus carried on was marked with increased horrors, from the inhuman manner in which these desperate adventurers were in the habit of crowding the slaves on board vessels better adapted to escape from the in terruption of cruizers than to serve for the transport of human beings:

That, as the improvement of Africa, especially in a commercial point of view, has advanced in proportion as the slave trade had been suppressed, so, with its revival, every prospect of industry and of amendment appears to decline:

That the British government has made considerable exertions to check the growing evil; that, during the war, and whilst in possession of the French and Dutch settlements on that coast, their endeavors had been attended with very considerable success; but that, since the restoration of those possessions, and more especially since the return of peace had rendered it illegal for British cruizers to visit vessels sailing under foreign flags, the trade in slaves had greatly increased:

That the British government, in the performance of this act of moral duty, had invariably wished, as far as possible, to avoid giving umbrage to the rights of any friendly power; that, with this view, as early as July, 1816, the accompanying circular order had been issued to all British cruizers, requiring them to advert to the fact, that the right of search (being a belligerent right) had ceased with the war, and directing them to abstain from exercising the same:

That the difficulty of distinguishing, in all cases, the fraudulent from the licit slave traders, of the former of whom a large proportion were notoriously British subjects, feloniously carrying on this traffic in defiance of the laws of their own country, had given occasion for the detention of a number of ves

upon grounds which the Prince Regent's government could not sanction; and in reparation for which seizures, due compensation had been assigned in the late convention with Spain and Portugal:

That it was, however, proved, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that, unless the right to visit vessels engaged in this illicit traffic should be established by the same being mutually conceded between the maritime States, the illicit slave trade must, in time of peace, not only continue to subsist, but to increase:

That the system of obtaining fraudulent papers, and concealing the real ownership, was now carried on with such address as to render it easy

for the subjects of all States to carry on the traffic, whilst the trade in slaves remained legal for the subjects of any one State.

That, even were the traffic abolished by all States, whilst the flag of one State shall preclude the visit of all other States, the illicit slave trader will always have the means of concealing himself under the disguise of the nation whose cruizer there is the least chance of his meeting on the coast.

Thus the Portuguese slave trader, since the abolition North of the line took effect, has been found to conceal himself under the Spanish flag. The American, and even the British dealer, has in like manner assumed a foreign disguise. Many instances have occurred of British subjects evading the laws of their country, either by establishing houses at the Havana, or obtaining false papers. If such has been the case in time of war, when neutral flags were legally subjected to the visit of the belligerent cruizer, the evil must tenfold increase when peace has extinguished this right, and when even British ships, by fraudulently assuming a foreign flag, may, with every prospect of impunity, carry on the traffic.

The obvious necessity of combining the repression of the illicit slave trade with the measure of abolition, in order to render the latter in any degree effectual, has been admitted both by the Spanish and Portuguese governments; and, in furtherance of this principle, the late conventions have been negotiated; but, whilst the system therein established is confined to thethree powers, and whilst the flags of other maritime States, and more especially those of France, Holland, and the United States, are not included therein, the effect must be to vary the ostensible character of the fraud, rather than, in any material degree, to suppress the mischief.

The great powers of Europe, assembled in Congress at Vienna, having taken a solemn engagement, in the face of mankind, that this traffic should be made to cease; and it clearly appearing that the law of abolition is nothing in itself, unless the contraband slave trade shall be suppressed by a combined system; it is submitted, that they owe it to themselves to unite their endeavors, without delay, for that purpose; and, as the best means, it is proposed that the five powers now assembled in conference under the third additional article of the treaty of Paris, should conclude a treaty with each other, upon such enlarged, and at the same time simple principles, as might become a conventional regulation, 10 which all other maritime States should be invited to give their accession. This convention might embrace the following general provisions:

1st. An engagement, by effectual enactments, to render not only the import of slaves into their respective dominions illegal, but to constitute the trafficing in slaves, on the part of any of their subjects, a criminal act, to be punished in such suitable manner as their respective codes of law may ordain.

2d. That the right of visit be mutually conceded to their respective ships of war, furnished with the proper instructions, ad hoc; that the visit be made under the inspection of a commissioned officer, and no vessel be detained unless slaves shall be found actually on board.

3d. The minor regulations to be such as are established in the conventions with Spain and Portugal, under such further modifications as may appear calculated to obviate abuse, and to render the system, if possible, more unobjectionable as a general law, amongst the high contracting parties, applica-. ble to this particular evil.

After the abolition shall have become general, in a course of years, the laws of each particular state may perhaps be made in a great measure effectual to exclude import. The measure to be taken on the coast of Africa will then become comparatively unimportant; but so long as the partial nature of the abolition, and the facility to contraband import throughout the extensive possessions to which slaves are carried from the coast of Africa, shall afford to the illicit slave trader irresistible temptation to pursue this abominable but lucrative traffic, so long, nothing but the vigilant superintendence of an armed and international police on the coast of Africa can be expected successfully to cope with such practices.

To render such a police cither legal or effectual 10 its ohject, it must be established under the sanction and by the authority of all civilized states concurring in the humane policy of abolition: the force necessary to repress the same may be supplied, as circumstances of convenience may suggest, by the powers having possessions on the coast of Africa, or local interests, which may induce them to station ships of war in that quarter of the globe; but the endeavors of these powers must be ineffectual, unless backed by a general alliance, framed for this especial purpose. The rights of all nations must be brought to co-operate to the end in view, by at least ceasing to be the cover under which the object, which all aim at accomplishing, is to be defeated.

At the outset, some difficulty may occur in the execution of a common system, and especially whilst the trade remains legal, within certain fimits, to the subjects both of the crowns of Spain and Portugal; but if the principal powers frequenting the coast of Africa evince a determination to combine their means against the illicit slave trader as a common enemy, and if they are supported in doing so by other states denying to such illicit slave traders the cover of their flag, the traffic will soon be rendered too hazardous for profitable speculation. The evil must thus ceasc, and the efforts of Africa bc directed to those habits of peaceful commerce and industry, in which all nations will find their best reward for the exertions they shall have devoted to the suppression of this great moral evil.

Lord Castlereagh, upon these grounds, invited his colleagues, in the name of the Prince Regent, should the Powers under which they at present act not enable them to proceed to negotiate a convention upon the grounds above stated, to solicit, without delay, from their respective sovereigns, the authority necessary to this effect; his royal highness confidently trusting that the enlarged and enlightened principles which guided the councils of thesc illustrious persons at Vienna, and which have now happily advanced the cause of abolition so nearly to its completion, will determine them perseveringly to conduct the measure to that successful closc, which nothing but their combined wisdom and continued exertions can eilectuate.

Lorid Castlereagh concluded by calling the attention of his colleagues to the indisputable proofs afforded, both by the present state of the colony of Sierra Leone, and by the increase of African commerce' in latter years, of the faculties of that continent, both in its soil and population, for becoming civilized and industrious, the only impediment to which undoubtedly was the pernicious practice of slave trading, which, wherever it prevailed, at once turned aside the attention of the natives from the more slow and laborious means of barter which industry presented, to that of seizing upon and selling each other.

It was therefore through the total extinction of this trallic that Africa could alone be expected to make its natural advances in civilization, a result which it was the declared object of these conferences, by all possible means, to accelerate and to promote.

Note. The proposition made by Viscount Castlereagh, in the preceding memorandum, was immediately transmitted by the several plenipotentiaries for the consideration of their courts; but no answer was received from the respective governments previous to the meeting of the conferences at Aixla-Chapelle, in September, 1818.

SECOND ENCLOSURE IN No. 2.

Annex B to the Protocol of the conference of the 4th of February, 1818. Queries proposed by Viscount Castlereagh to, and answers of, the African

Society in London, December, 1816. Query 1. What number of slaves are supposed at present to be annually carried from the western coast of Africa across the Atlantic?

Answer 1. It would be impossible to give any other than a conjectural answer to this question. It has been calculated; but certainly on loose and uncertain data, that the number of slaves at present carried from the western coast of Africa across the Atlantic, amounts to upwards of 60,000.

Query 2. State as far as you can the comparative numbers annually withdrawn for the last 25 years, either by giving the probable number withdrawn in each year, or upon an average of years?

Answer 2. The number of slaves withdrawn from western Africa during the last 25 years, is also necessarily involved in considerable uncertainty. It has probably amounted to upwards of a million and a half. During many of the carly years of that period, the number annually withdrawn is stated, on credible authority, to have amounted to near 80,000.

This agrees with the result of the evidence taken before the privy council in 1787 and 1788. Even this enormous amount, however, is more likely to fall below the real export than to exceed it; for, in the specification contained in the Privy Council report, the Portuguese are supposed to have carried off only 15,000 annually, whereas there is reason to believe that their export was much more considerable. The number carried off by ships of the United States is also, it is apprehended, rated too low.

The abolition of the British slave trade in 1808 must of course have materially lessened the extent of the slave trade.

The diminution in the price of slaves on the coast, however, which followed that measure, appears in no long time to have had the effect of tempting other nations to enlarge their purchases, and to crowd their ships; and British capital also gradually found its way into this branch of trade through the medium of foreign houses. On the whole, it is supposed that the average export of the last eight years may have somewhat exceeded the rate of 50,000 annually.

Query 3. From what parts of the coast have these supplies been drawn? State as far as may be the approximated distribution of these numbers with respect to different parts of the coast of Africa.

Answer 3. Previously to the year 1810, these supplies were drawn from all parts of the African coast, without distinction.

About a fourth part of the whole, it is supposed, was drawn from that part of the coast extending from the river Senegal to the eastern extremity of the Gold Coast. Of the remaining three fourths, one-half is supposed to have been drawn from Whydaw, the Bight of Benin, the rivers Bonny, Cal. abar, Gaboon, and the intermediate districts North of the equator; and the other half from Congo, Angola, Benguela, and other parts of the South of the equator.

Subsequently to the year 1793, the slave trade between the Senegal and the eastern extremity of the Gold Coast was divided almost exclusively between the English and the Americans, probably more than three-fourths of it being engrossed by the former. The contemporaneous abolition of the slave trade, therefore, by these two nations, tended greatly to diminish the export of slaves from that line of coast. The Portuguese had previously confined their slave trade almost entirely to the Bight of Benin and the coast to the Southward of it, but, in consequence of the reduction in the price of slaves on the Windward and Gold Coasts, which followed the abolition of the British and American slave trade, they were gradually drawn thither. Before, however, their expeditions to this part of the coast had become very frequent, they were checked by the promulgation of the treaty of amity between Great Britain and Portugal, of February, 1810, confining the Portuguese slave trade to places under the dominion of the crown of Portugal. The Windward, and also the Gold Coast, were thus preserved for some years from suffering so severely by the ravages of the slave trade, as would otherwise probably be the case. Considerable cargoes, it is true, were occasionally carried away from these districts during the years in question, especially when it could be ascertained that there were no British cruizers in the

way

to obstruct their progress.

But still, from the year 1808 to the year 1815, the slaves carried from Western Africa were principally taken from Whydaw, the Bight of Benin, and the coast Southward of it, and the coast North of that line was comparatively exempt from the ravages of this traffic.

Query 4. By what nations, and in what proportions, is it understood that the gross annual supply has been purchased and carried away?

« AnteriorContinua »