The Slave Trade
Henry Charles Carey

Chapter IV
Of Emancipation in the British Colonies.



The small number of slaves held—in the British colonies and a their small value having enabled the people of England to discharge them from all compulsory labour, on payment to their owners of a portion of that small value, the question now arises — “Has that measure tended to the advancement of the negro in numbers, wealth, happiness, or civilization?”

Reasoning a priori, we should be led to doubt if such could be its results.  The savage is indolent;  he labours only when compelled to do so.  He may shoot the deer, but he leaves to his squaw the labour of carrying it home and preparing it for his supper.

Look at him where we may, we find him idle and improvident.  If he kill more game than is required for the day, it is allowed to spoil.  If he obtain money, it is wasted in the purchase of rum.  He is a gambler, and always ready to stake whatever he possesses, even to life itself, on the chances of the die.  Not only does he not accumulate any thing for the future, but he wastes and destroys around him; and therefore it is that we find him steadily declining in numbers and in condition.

That the negroes of the islands and the Main had been kept nearly in a state of barbarism, was a necessary consequence of the fact that constant importation of barbarians had been required to replace those who died of exhaustion from excess of labour, or from poverty of food, clothing, and lodging.  Their condition generally had been similar to that now observed on many of the estates in Cuba.  Five men to one woman is stated by Macpherson to have been the relation of the numbers of the sexes on many of the estates;  and under such circumstances any advance toward civilization must have been impossible.  Up to the day of emancipation these men had been forced to work, and the great object of desire had been exemption from labour.  Under such circumstances, it was greatly to be feared that if suddenly emancipated from control, they would, like children, be disposed to make a little labour answer their purpose, giving the rest of their time to idleness;  and the direct effect and intent of the measure adopted was to give them the power to determine for themselves for whom they would work, and how much work they would agree to give for any give amount of compensation.  The larger the wages for a day the more days they could spend in idleness, and they could not but know that the planters were entirely in their power.  If they idle for a week, their late master lost his crop.  If they worked six hours out of twenty-four, not only did capital employed in the steam-engine fail to pay interest, but the planter lost his market for his sugar.  Emancipation, under such circumstances, change them at once from the condition of absolute slaves to absolute masters of the fortunes of those whom they had lately serve.  They could live on the produce of little labour, and the less they were disposed to work the greater must become the necessities of the planters, and the greater their own power to determine the conditions upon which they would work.

The harmony of the universe is the result of a contest between equal and opposing powers.  The earth is attracted to the sun and from the sun;  and were either of these forces to be diminished or destroyed, chaos would be the inevitable result.  So is it everywhere on the earth.  The apple falls toward the centre of the earth, but in its passage it encounters resistance;  and the harmony of every thing we see around us is dependent on the equal balance of these opposing forces.  So is it among men.  The man who has food to sell wishes to have a high price for it, whereas he who needs to buy desires to have it cheaply;  and the selling price depends on the relation between the necessity to buy on one hand, or to sell on the other.  Diminish suddenly and largely the competition for the purchase of food, and the farmer becomes the prey of the mechanic.  Increase it suddenly and, largely, and the mechanic becomes the prey of the farmer;  whereas a gradual and gentle increase in the demand for food is accompanied by a similar increase in the demand for the products of the loom and the anvil, and both farmer and mechanic prosper together, because the competition for purchase and the competition for sale grow together and balance each other.  So, too, with labour.  Wages are dependent upon the relation between the number of those who desire to buy and to sell labour.  Diminish suddenly the number of those who desire to sell it, and the farmer may be ruined.  Diminish suddenly the number of those who desire to buy it, and the labourer may become the slave of the farmer.

For almost two centuries, men possessed of capital and desirous to purchase labour had been induced to transfer it to the colonies, and the government secured to them the right to obtain labourers on certain specified terms — such terms as made the labourer a mere instrument in the hands of the capitalist, and prevented him from obtaining any of those habits or feelings calculated to inspire him with a love for labour.  At once, all control over him was withdrawn, and the seller of labour was converted into the master of him who was thus, by the action of the government, placed in such a situation that he must buy it or be ruined.  Here was a disturbance of the order of things that had existed, almost as great as that which occurs when the powerful steam, bursting the boiler in which it is enclosed, ceases to be the servant and becomes the master of man; and it would have required but little foresight to enable those who had the government of this machine to see that it must prove almost as ruinous.

How it operated in Southern Africa, where the slave was most at home, is shown by the following extracts from the work of recent traveller and settler in that colony:—[1]

“The chain was broken, and the people of England hurried to their heart’s content.  And the slave!  What, in the meanwhile, became of him?  If he was young and vicious, away he went - he was his own master.  He was at liberty to walk to and fro upon the earth, ‘seeking whom he might devour.’  He was free:  he had the world before him where to choose, though, squatted beside the Kaffir’s fire, probably thinking his meal of parched corn but poor stuff after the palata dishes he had been permitted to cook for himself in the Boer’s tradesman’s kitchen.  But he was fain to like it — he could get nothing else — and this was earned at the expense of his own soul; for it was given him as an inducement to teach the Kaffir the easiest mode plundering his ancient master.  If inclined to work, he had no certain prospect of employment;  and the Dutch, losing so much by the sudden Emancipation Act, resolved on working for themselves.  So the virtuous, redeemed slave, had too many temptations to remain virtuous;  he was hungry — so was his wife — so were his children;  and he must feed them.  How?  No matter.”

These people will work at times, but they must have wages that will enable them to play much of their time.

“When we read of the distress of our own country, and of wretched earnings of our mechanics, we are disgusted at the idea these same Fingoes striking work (as Coolies) at Waterloo Bay, being dissatisfied with the pay of 2s. a day.  As their services are necessary in landing cargo, their demand of 3s. a day has been acceded to, they have consented to work when it suits them! — for they take occasional holidays, for dancing and eating.  At Algoa Bay, the Fingoes are often paid 6s. a day for working as Coolies.”

These men have all the habits of the savage.  They leave to women the tilling of the ground, the hoeing of the corn, the carrying of water, and all the heavy work;  and to the boys and old men the tending of the cattle, while they themselves spend the year in hunting, dancing, eating, and robbing their neighbours — except when occasionally they deem it expedient to do a few days’ work at such wages as they may think proper to dictate.

How it has operated in the West Indies we may next inquire, and with that view will take Jamaica, one of the oldest, and, until recently, one of the most prosperous of the colonies.  That island embraces about four millions of acres of land, “of which,” says Bigelow,—

“There are not, probably, any ten lying adjacent to each other which are not susceptible of the highest cultivation, while not more than 500,000 acres have ever been reclaimed, or even appropriated.”[2]

It is traversed by over two hundred streams, forty of which are twenty-five to one hundred feet in breadth; and, it deserves to be mentioned, furnish water-power sufficient to manufacture everything produced by the soil, or consumed by the inhabitants.  Far less expense than is usually incurred on the same surface in the United States for manure, would irrigate all the dry lands of the island, and enable them to defy the most protracted droughts by which it is ever visited.”[3]

The productiveness of the soil is immense.  Fruits of every variety abound;  vegetables of every kind for the table, and Indian corn, grow abundantly.  The island is rich in dyestuffs, drugs, and spices of the greatest value;  and the forests furnish the most celebrated woods in the greatest variety.  In addition to this, it possesses copper-mines inferior to none in the world, and coal will probably be mined extensively before many years. “Such,” says Mr. Bigelow,—

“Are some of the natural resources of this dilapidated and poverty-stricken country.  Capable as it is of producing almost every thing, and actually producing nothing which might not become a staple with proper application of capital and skill, its inhabitants are miserably poor, and daily sinking deeper and deeper into the utter helplessness abject want—

“Magnus inter opes inops.”

“Shipping has deserted her ports;  her magnificent plantations of sugar and coffee are running to weeds;  her private dwellings are falling into decay;  the comforts and luxuries which belong to industrial prosperity have been cut off, one by one, from her inhabitants; and the day, I think, is at hand when there will be, none left to represent the wealth, intelligence, and hospitality for which the Jamaica planter was once so distinguished.”

“The cause of all this, say the planters, is that wages are too high for the price of sugar.  This Mr. Bigelow denies — not conceding that a shilling a day is high wages;  but all the facts he adduces tend to show that the labourer gives very little labour for the money he receives;  and that, as compared with the work done, wages are really far higher than in any part of the Union.  Like the Fingo of Southern Africa, he can obtain from a little patch of land ail that is indispensably necessary for his subsistence, and he will do little more work than is needed for accomplishing that object.  The consequence of this is that potatoes sell for six cents a pound, eggs from three to five cents each, milk at eighteen cents a quart, and corn-meal at twelve or fourteen dollars a barrel;  and yet there are now more than a hundred thousand of these small proprietors, being almost one for every three people on the island.  All cultivators, they yet produce little to sell, and the consequence of this is seen in the fact that the mass of the flour, rice, corn, peas, butter, lard, herrings, &c. needed for consumption requires to be imported, as well as all the lumber, although millions of acres of timber are to be found among the unappropriated lands of the island.

It is impossible to read Mr. Bigelow’s volume, without arriving at the conclusion that the freedom granted to the negro has had little effect except that of enabling him to live at the expense of the planter so long as any thing remained.  Sixteen years of freedom did not appear to its author to have “advanced the dignity of labour or of the labouring classes one particle,” while it had ruined the proprietors of the land; and thus great damage had been done to the one class without benefit of any kind to the other.  From a statistical table published in August last, it appears, says the New York Herald, that since 1846 —

“The number of sugar-estates on the island that have been totally abandoned amounts to one hundred and sixty-eight, and the number partially abandoned to sixty-three; the value of which two hundred and thirty-one estates was assessed, in 1841, at 1,655,140, or nearly eight millions and a half of dollars.  Within the same period, two hundred and twenty-three coffee-plantations have been totally, and twenty partially abandoned, the assessed value of which was, in 1841, 500,000, or two millions and a half of dollars; and of cattle-pen (grazing-farms,) one hundred and twenty-two have been totally, and ten partially abandoned, the value of which was a million and a half of dollars.  The aggregate value of these six hundred and six estates which have been thus ruined and abandoned in the island of Jamaica, within the last seven or eight years, amounted by the regular assessments, ten years since, to the sum of nearly two and a half millions of pounds sterling, or twelve and a half million of dollars.”

As a necessary consequence of this, “there is little heard of,” says Dr. King, “but ruin.”[4]  “In many districts,” he adds—

“The marks of decay abound.  Neglected fields, crumbling houses, fragmentary fences, noiseless machinery — these are common sights, and soon become familiar to observation.  I sometimes rode for miles in succession over fertile ground which used to be cultivated, and which is now lying waste.  So rapidly has cultivation retrograded, and the wild luxuriance of nature replaced the conveniences of art, that parties still inhabiting these desolated districts, have sometimes, in the strong language of a speaker at Kingston, ‘to seek about the bush to find the entrance into their houses!’

“The towns present a spectacle not less gloomy.  A great part of Kingston was destroyed, some years ago, by an extensive conflagration:  yet multitudes of the houses which escaped that visitation are standing empty, though the population is little, if at all diminished.  The explanation is obvious.  Persons who have nothing, and can no longer keep up their domestic establishments, take refuge in the abodes of others, where some means of subsistence are still left:  and in the absence of any discernible trade or occupation, the lives of crowded thousands appear to be preserved from day to day by a species of miracle.  The most busy thoroughfares of former times have now almost the quietude of a Sabbath.”

“The finest land in the world,” says Mr. Bigelow, “may be had at any price, and almost for the asking.”  Labour, he adds, “receives no compensation, and the product of labour does not seem to know how to find the way to market.”  Properties which were formerly valued at 40,000 would not now command 4000, others, after having been sold at six, eight, or ten percent of their former value, have been finally abandoned.

The following is from a report made in 1849 and signed by various missionaries:—

“Missionary efforts in Jamaica are beset at the present time with many and great discouragements.  Societies at home have withdrawn or diminished the amount of assistance afforded by them to chapels and schools throughout this island.  The prostrate condition of its agriculture and commerce disables its own population from doing as much as formerly for maintaining the Worship of God and the tuition of the young, and induces numbers of negro labourers to retire from estates which have been thrown up, to seek the means of subsistence in the mountains, where they are removed in general from moral training and superintendence.  The consequences of this state of matters are very disastrous.  Not a few missionaries and teachers often struggling with difficulties which they could not overcome, have returned to Europe, and others are preparing to follow them.  Chapels and schools are abandoned, or they have passed into the charge of very incompetent instructors.” — Quoted in King’s Jamaica, p. 111.

Population gradually diminishes, furnishing another evidence that the tendency of every thing is adverse to the progress of civilization.  In 1841, the island contained a little short of 400,000 persons.  In 1844, the census returns gave about 380,000;  and a recent journal states that of those no less than forty thousand have in the last two years been carried off by cholera, and that small-pox, which has succeeded that disease, is now sweeping away thousands whom that disease had spared.  Increase of crime it adds, keeps pace with the spread of misery throughout the island.

The following extracts from a Report of a Commission appointed in 1850 to inquire into the state and prosperity of Guiana are furnished by Lord Stanley in his second letter to Mr. Gladstone, [London, 1851.]

Of Guiana generally they say—

“It would be but a melancholy task to dwell upon the misery and ruin which so alarming a change must have occasioned to the proprietary body; but your Commissioners feel themselves called upon to notice the effects which this wholesale abandonment of property has produced upon the colony at large. Where whole districts are fast relapsing into bush, and occasional patches of provisions around the huts of village settlers are all that remain to tell of once flourishing estates, it is not to be wondered at that the most ordinary marks of civilization are rapidly disappearing, and that in many districts of the colony all travelling communication by land will soon become utterly impracticable.”

Of the Abary district —

“Your Commissioners find that the line of road is nearly impassable, and that a long succession of formerly cultivated estates presents now a series of pestilent swamps, overrun with bush, and productive malignant fevers.”

“Nor are matters,” says Lord Stanley, “much better farther south —

“Proceeding still lower down, your Commissioners find that the public roads and bridges are in such a condition, that the few estates still remaining on the upper west bank of Mahaica Creek are completely cut off in the very dry season;  and that with regard to the whole district, unless something be done very shortly, travelling by land will entirely cease.  In such a state of things it cannot be wondered at that the herdsman has a formidable enemy to encounter in the jaguar and other beasts of prey, and that the keeping of cattle is attended with considerable loss, from the depredations committed by these animals.

“It may be worth noticing,” continues Lord Stanley, “that this district now overrun with wild beasts of the forest, was formerly the very garden of the colony.  The estates touched one another along the whole line of the road, leaving no interval of uncleared land.

“The east coast, which is next mentioned by the Commissioners, is better off.”  Properties once of immense value had there been bought at nominal prices, and the one railroad of Guiana passing through that tract a comparatively industrious population, composed of former labourers on the line, enabled the planters still to work these to some profit.  Even of this favoured spot, however, they report that it “feels most severely the want of continuous labour.”  The Commissioners next visit the east bank of the Demerara river, thus described:—

“Proceeding up the east bank of the river Demerary, the generally prevailing features of ruin and distress are everywhere perceptible.  Roads and bridges almost impassable are fearfully significant exponents of the condition of the plantations which they traverse;  and Canal No. 3, once covered with plantains and coffee, presents now a scene of almost rotal desolation.

“Crossing to the west side, they find prospects somewhat brighter:  ‘a few estates’ are still ‘keeping up a cultivation worthy of better times.’  But this prosperous neighbourhood is not extensive, and the next picture presented to our notice is less agreeable:—

“Ascending the river still higher, your Commissioners learn that the district between Hobaboe Creek and ‘Stricken Heuvel’ contained, in 1829, eight sugar and five coffee and plantain estates, and now there remain but three in sugar and four partially cultivated with plantains by petty settlers:  while the roads, with one or two exceptions, are in a state of utter abandonment.  Here, as on the opposite bank of the river, hordes of squatters have located themselves, who avoid all communication with Europeans, and have seemingly given themselves up altogether to the rude pleasures of a completely savage life.

“The west coast of Demerara — the only part of that country which still remains unvisited — is described as showing only a diminution of fifty percent upon its produce of sugar: and with this fact the evidence concludes as to one of the three sections into which the colony is divided.  Does Demerara stand alone in its misfortune?  Again hear the report;—

“ ‘If the present state of the county of Demerary affords cause for deep apprehension, your Commissioners find that Essequebo has retrograded to a still more alarming extent.  In fact, unless a large and speedy supply of labour be obtained to cultivate the deserted fields of this once-flourishing district, there is great reason to fear that it will relapse into total abandonment.’

Describing another portion of the colony —

“They say of one district, ‘unless a fresh supply of labour be very soon obtained, there is every reason to fear that It will become completely abandoned.’ Of a second, ‘speedy immigration alone can save this island from total ruin.’  ‘The prostrate condition of this once beautiful part of the coast,’ are the words which begin another paragraph, describing another tract of country.  Of a fourth, the proprietors on this coast seem to be keeping up a hopeless struggle against approaching ruin.  Again, ‘the once famous Arabian coast, so long the boast of the colony, presents now but a mournful picture of departed prosperity.  Here were formerly situated some of the finest estates in the country, and a large resident body of proprietors lived in the district, and freely expended their incomes on the spot whence they derived them.’  Once more, the lower part of the coast, after passing Devonshire Castle to the river Pomeroon, presents a scene of almost total desolation.  Such is Essequibo!”

“Berbice,” says Lord Stanley, “has fared no better:  its rural population amounts to 18,000.  Of these, 12,000 have withdrawn from the estates, and mostly from the neighbourhood of the white man, to enjoy a savage freedom of ignorance and idleness, beyond the reach of example and sometimes of control.  But, on the condition of the negro;  I shall dwell more at length hereafter;  at present it is the state of property with which I have to do.  What are the districts which together form the county of Berbice?  The Corentyne coast — the Canje Creek — East and West banks of the Berbice River — and the West coast, where, however, cotton was formerly the chief article produced.  To each of these respectively the following passages, quoted in order, apply:—

“The abandoned plantations on this coast,[5] which if capital and labour could be procured, might easily be made very productive, are either wholly deserted or else appropriated by hordes of squatters, who of course are unable to keep up at their own expense the public road and bridges, and consequently all communication by land between the Corentyne and New Amsterdam is nearly at an end.  The roads are impassable for horses or carriages, while for foot-passengers, they are extremely dangerous.  The number of villagers in this deserted region must be upward of 2,500, and as the country abounds with fish an game, they have no difficulty in making a subsistence;  in fact, the Corentyne coast is fast relapsing into a state of nature.

“ Canje Creek was formerly considered a flourishing district of the county, and numbered on its east bank seven sugar and three coffee estates, and on its west bank eight estates, of which two were in sugar and six in coffee, making a total of eighteen plantations.  The coffee cultivation has long since been entirely abandoned, and of the sugar estates but eight still now remain.  They are suffering severely for want of labour, and being supported principally by African and Coolie immigrants, it is much to be feared that if the latter leave and claim their return passages to India, a great part of the district will become abandoned.

“ Under present circumstances, so gloomy is the condition of affairs here,[6] that the two gentlemen whom your Commissioners have examined with respect to this district, both concur in predicting ‘its slow but sure approximation to the condition in which civilized man first found it.’

“A district[7] that in 1829, gave employment to 3,635 registered slaves, but at the present moment there are not more than 600 labourers at work on the few estates still in cultivation, although it is estimated there are upwards of 2,000 people idling in villages of their own.  The roads are in many parts several feet under water, and perfect swamps;  while in some places the bridges are wanting altogether.  In fact, the whole district is fast becoming a total wilderness, with the exception of the one or two estates which yet continue to struggle on, and which are hardly accessible now but by water.

“Except in some of the best villages,[8] they care not for back or front dams to keep off the water;  their side-lines are disregarded, and consequently the drainage is gone;  while in many instances the public road is so completely flooded that canoes have to be used as a means of transit.  The Africans are unhappily following the example of the Creoles in this district, and buying land, on which they settle in contented idleness; and your Commissioners cannot view instances like these without the deepest alarm, for if this pernicious habit of squatting is allowed to extend to the immigrants also, there is no hope for the colony.”

Under these circumstances it is that the London Times furnishes its readers with the following paragraph, — and as that journal cannot be regarded as the opponent of the classes which have lately controlled the legislation of England, we may feel assured that its information is to be relied upon:—

“Our legislation has been dictated by the presumed necessities of the African slave.  After the Emancipation Act, a large charge was assessed upon the colony in aid of civil and religious institutions for the benefit of the enfranchised negro, and it was hoped that those coloured subjects of the British Crown would soon be assimilated to their fellow-citizens.  From all the information which has reached us, no less than from the visible probabilities of the case, we are constrained to believe that these hopes have been falsified.  The negro has not obtained with his freedom any habits of industry or morality.  His independence is little better than that of an uncaptured brute. Having accepted none of the restraints of civilization, he is amenable to few of its necessities, and the wants of his nature are so easily satisfied, that at the present rate of wages he is called upon for nothing but fitful or desultory exertion.  The blacks, therefore, instead of becoming intelligent husbandmen, have become vagrants and squatters, and it is now apprehended that with the failure of cultivation in the island will come the failure of its resources for instructing or controlling its population.  So imminent does this consummation appear, that memorials have been signed by classes of colonial society, hitherto standing aloof from politics, and not only the bench and the bar, but the bishop, clergy, and the ministers of all denominations in the island, without exception, have recorded their conviction that in the absence of timely relief, the religious and educational institutions of the island must be abandoned, and the masses of the population retrograde to barbarism!”

The Prospective Review, (Nov. 1852,) seeing what has happened in the British colonies, and speaking of the possibility of a similar course of action on this side of the Atlantic, says—

“We have had experience enough in our own colonies, not to wish to see the experiment tried elsewhere on a larger scale.  It is true that from some of the smaller islands, where there is a superabundance of negro population and no room for squatters, the export of sugar has not been diminished:  it is true that in Jamaica and Demerara, the commercial distress is largely attributable to the folly of the planters — who doggedly refuse to accommodate themselves to the new state of things, and to entice the negroes from the back settlements by a promise of fair wages.  But we have no reason to suppose that the whole tragi-comedy would not be re-enacted in the Slave States of America, if slavery were summarily abolished by act of Congress tomorrow.  Property among the plantations consists only of land and negroes:  emancipate the negroes — and the planters have no longer any capital for the cultivation of the land.  Put the case of compensation:  though it be difficult to see whence it could come:  there is every probability that the planters of Alabama, accustomed all their lives to get black labour for nothing, would be as unwilling to pay for it as their compeers in Jamaica:  and there is plenty of unowned land on which the disbanded gangs might settle and no one question their right.  It is allowed on all hands that the negroes as a race will not work longer than is necessary to supply the simplest comforts of life.  It would be wonderful were it otherwise.  A people have been degraded and ground down for a century and a half:  systematically kept in ignorance for five generations of any needs and enjoyments beyond those of the savage:  and then it is made matter of complaint that they will not apply themselves to labour for their higher comforts and more refined luxuries, of which they cannot know the value!”

The systematic degradation here referred to is probably quite true as regards the British Islands, where 660,000 were all that remained of almost two millions that had been imported;  but it is quite a mistake to suppose it so in regard to this country, in which there are now found ten persons for everyone ever imported, and all advancing by gradual steps toward civilization and freedom;  and yet were the reviewer discoursing of the conduct of the Spanish settlers of Hispaniola, he could scarcely speak more disparagingly of them than he does in regard to a people that alone has so treated the negro race as to enable it to increase in numbers, and improve in its physical, moral, and intellectual condition.  Had he been more fully informed in relation to the proceedings in the British colonies, and in these colonies and states, he could scarcely have ventured to assert that “the responsibility of having degraded the African race rests upon the American people,” — the only people among whom they have been improved.  Nevertheless, it is right and proper to give due weight to all opinions in regard to the existence of an evil, and to all recommendations in regard to the mode of removal, let them come from what source they may;  and the writer of the article from which this passage is taken is certainly animated by a somewhat more liberal and catholic spirit than is found animating many of his countrymen.

That the English system in regard to the emancipation of the negro has proved a failure is now admitted even by those who most warmly advocated the measures that have been pursued.  “There are many,” says the London Times, “who think that, with proper regulations, and particularly with a system for the self-enfranchisement of slaves, we might have brought about the entire emancipation of the British West Indies, with much less injury to the property of the planter and to the character of the negro than have resulted from the Abolition Act.  “Perhaps,” it continues, “the warning will not be lost on the Americans, who may see the necessity of putting things in train for the ultimate abolition of slavery, and thereby save the sudden shock which the abolitionists may one day bring on all the institutions of the Union and the whole fabric of American society.”

The Falmouth [Jamaica] Post, of December 12,1852, informs us that, even now, “in every parish of the island preparations are being made for the abandonment of properties that were once valuable, but on which cultivation can no longer be continued.”  “In Trelawny,” it continues, “many estates have been thrown up during the last two years, and the exportation to the United States of America, within a few months, of upward of 80,000 tons of copper, which was used for the manufacture of sugar and rum, is one of the ‘signs of the times,’ to which the attention of the legislature should be seriously directed, in providing for the future maintenance of our various institutions, both public and parochial.  Unless the salaries of all official characters are reduced, it will be utterly impossible to carry on the government of the colony.”

Eighty thousand tons of machinery heretofore used in aid of labour, or nearly one ton for every four persons on the island, exported within a few months!  The Bande Noire of France pulled down dwelling-houses and sold the materials, but as they left the machinery used by the labourers, their operations were less injurious than have been those of the negroes of Jamaica, the demand for whose labour must diminish with every step in the progress of the abandonment of land and the destruction of machinery.  Under such circumstances we can feel little surprise at learning that every thing tends towards barbarism;  nor is it extraordinary that a writer already quoted, and who is not to be suspected of any pro-slavery tendencies, puts the question, “Is it enough that they [the Americans] simply loose their chain and turn them adrift lower,” as he is pleased to say, “than they found them?”[9]  It is not enough.  They need to be prepared for freedom.  “Immediate emancipation,” as he says, “solves only the simplest forms of the problem.”

The land-owner has been ruined and the labourer is fast relapsing into barbarism, and yet in face of this fact the land-owners of the Southern States are branded throughout the world as “tyrants” and “slave-breeders,” because they will not follow in the same direction.  It is in face of this great fact that the people of the North are invited to join in a crusade against their brethren of the South because they still continue to hold slaves, and that the men of the South are themselves so frequently urged to assent to immediate and unconditional emancipation.

In all this there may be much philanthropy, but there is certainly much error, — and with a view to determine where it lies, as well as to show what is the true road to emancipation, it is proposed to inquire what has been, in the various countries of the world, the course by which men have passed from poverty to wealth, from ignorance and barbarism to civilization, and from slavery to freedom.  That done, we may next inquire for the causes now operating to prevent the emancipation of the negro of America and the occupant of “the sweater’s den” in London;  and if they can once be ascertained, it will be then easy to determine what are the measures needful to be adopted with a view to the establishment of freedom throughout the world.



 

1 The Cape and the Kaffirs, by Harriet Ward London, 1852.

2 Notes on Jamaica in 1850, p. 64.

3 Ibid. 68.

4 State and Prospects of Jamaica.

5 The Corentyne.

6 East bank of Berbice river.

7 West ditto.

8 West coast of Berbice.

9 Prospective Review, Nov. 1852, 504.