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A N 

E S S A Y 


Treatment and Conversion 

O F 





Vicar of Teston, in Kent. 

God hath made of one Blood all Nations of the Earth, for to dwell on 
all the Face of the Earth, Adls xvii. s6. 

He that ftealeth a Man, and felleth him, or if he be found in his Hand, 
he (hall furely be put to death, Exodus xxi. i6. 


Printed and Sold by James Phillips, George-Yard, 







[ iii 3 



ALettter of an ordinary length, in an- 
fvver to the humane one which is here 
fubjoined, gave beginning to this perform- 
ance. By frequent tranfcription, it fenfibly 
increafed in fize, and extended itfelf to col- 
lateral fubjecSts, till it had become fome- 
thing like a fyftem for the regulation and 
improvement of our fugar colonies, and the 
advancement and converfion of their flaves. 
On fubmitting the manufcript to thofe, 
w^ho were much better judges than the au- 
thor could pretend to be, of the prefent pre- 
vailing tafte (and many perfons of rank and 
learning have honoured it with a perufal) the 
account of the treatment of flaves in our 
colonies engaged their fympathy, and the 
a z plaa 


plan for their improvement and converiion 
had their hearty good wifhes. But they 
exhorted him, ahuoil all with one voice, to 
fupprefs every part that tended to introduce 
thofe political difcuffions, which muft be 
unavoidable in treating of the ftate of co- 
lonies, and their dependence on a mother 

As the author had, from the firft, no pri- 
vate views to gratify in the plan, and wifhed 
only to give it every poffible chance of fuc- 
cefs with the public, their decifion was 
final with him; and in conformity to it, 
every thing that related to the improvements^ 
and better government of the colonies, has 
been omitted* By this alteration in the 
original form of the work, it has neceffarily 
loft fomething of that fyllematic order, 
which contributes fo much to the beauty 
of compofitions, and leads fo pleafant- 
ly on from premifes to conclufion. But 
humanity is its objed:, not reputation. 
When the finer feelings of the foul are en- 
gaged, it would be a criminal trifling to aim 
at amufement. 

I will not infult the reader's underftand- 
ing, by an attempt to demonllrate it to be 


an objecft of importance, to gain to fociety, 
to reafon and religion, half a million of our 
kind, equally with us adapted for advancing 
themfelves in every art and fcience, that can 
diftinguifh man from man, equally with us 
made capable of looking forward to and 
enjoying futurity. I rather wifh to call in 
his benevolence, his confcience, his intereft, 
to give their aid in carrying on the work. 
The people, whofe improvement is here 
propofed, toil for the Britifh ftate. The 
public, therefore, has an interefl: in their 
advancement in fociety. And what is here 
claimed for them ? Not bounties, or gifts 
from parliament, or people j but leave to 
become more ufeful to themfelves, their 
mafters, and the ftate. And furely a plan, 
that has fuch an end in view, needs only to be 
explained to procure a general prepofieflion in 
its favour. V/hile the man of feeling finds 
every generous fentiment indulged in the 
profpe6t which it opens, the politician, the 
felfifli, will have all their little wifhes of 
opulence, and accumulation fully realized. 
The defign then, muft have every man of 
every complexion combined in its behalf; 
and there is nothing to be accounted for but 
a 3 the 

vi P R E F A C E. 

the author's courage, in prefuming to offer to 
the public his thoughts in particular on the 

From the manner in which this work had 
its beginning, it will appear that neither 
vanity, nor felf-fufficiency, led the author 
to the attempt. It was not till after the 
feventh copy had been read, and its pur- 
pofe approved of by many perfons of worth 
and judgment, that he entertained the moll 
diftant thoughts of publication. Even now, 
that it has undergone every fuggefted cor- 
redlion, and received every improvement 
that three tranfcriptions in fucceffion could 
give it, on their opinion, rather than his 
own, he refts the probability of its proving 
acceptable to the public. 

Not to be guilty of ftifling what had a 
generous purpofe in view, and poffibly might 
do good, if fo it pleafed God, has been, 
from the firjfl, as far as refped:ed himfelf, 
the only inducement. Profit he difclaims 5 
and willingly would he transfer all the cre- 
dit that can poffibly arife from it, to him 
who would take on him the cenfure. Yet 
fliould he not forgive himfelf, were he to 
difcover that ill nature had fliarpened a lingle 



cxpreffion in the Effay, or dragged an unlucky 
objed: of refentment into view* To blame 
has not been a pleafant tafk. He has fuffered 
more from the neceffity of doing it, than 
the perfons aifedled will probably do from 
the application ; which yet, except in one 
cafe, muft be the work of confcience with 
themfelves. In this cafe, the perfon who 
is the obje(5l, is of fuch an happy difpofi- 
tion, as to be incapable of feeling cenfure, 
and of that eftablifhed character, that noth- 
ing can hurt him. The public, therefore, 
has a right to him, as to a beacon placed 
near a dangerous quick fand. 

To conclude, the reader has here the re- 
marks of about twenty years experience in the 
Weft-Indies, and above fourteen years parti- 
cular application to thefubjeil* If it draws 
the attention due to its importance, the author 
will have the fatisfadlion of refiediing, that 
he has not lived in vain for his country 
and mankind. And this confideration will 
fmooth before him the otherwife rugged 
paths of life. Should it fail in anfwering 
his well meant purpofe, ftill the thoughts 
of having made the attempt, will pleafe on 
reflection ; nor will the intention lofe its re- 
ft 4 ward 

viii PREFACE. 

ward there, where his particular aim is to be 
found acceptable. 

Letter referred to above, which fuggefled to 
the author the confideration of the follow- 
ing fubjed:. 

I will omit any apology, however needful, 
for oifering my thoughts on the fubjed; of 
llavery, to one, whofe office and opportu- 
nities among flaves mufl induce him to think 
and ad: what is right refpeding them. The 
moft I can hope for is, to echo to him fome 
of his own refiedions, which perhaps the 
univerfal careleffnefs and indifference pre- 
vailing in every thing that concerns them, 
may, at times, caufe him to pafs inattentive- 
ly by, or conlider lefs than their import- 
ance deferves. 

I am fure Mr. mufi: always think him- 

felf not only obliged to ufe his Haves with 
kindnefs, but alfo viewing them as fellow- 
creatures, bound to extend his care to the 
fecurity of their eternal happinefs, by in- 
truding them in the relation which they 
bear to the great Author of their being, 
and gracious Redeemer of their fouls, and 



in the duty arifing from that relation, as it 
is revealed in the gofpel, and is required of 
all men, who feek after future happinefs. 
A care which, however contrary to the ufual 
policy of mailers, would be the moft pro- 
bable means of making Haves diligent and 
faithful ; for it would awaken confcience 
within them, to be a i\ri&i overfeer, and a 
fevere monitor, whom they could not evade. 
This is a confequence, that if duly confi- 
dered, might induce even thofe who, neg- 
lecfling to take providence into the account, 
conlider only how they Ihall make th^e moft 
of their ftock, to afford their Haves oppor- 
tunities of learning their duty; allowing 
them, for example, fome portion of the 
week for procuring their fubfiftence, and 
fetting the Lord's day apart for religious 

Still granting that mailers, who look no 
farther than prefent proiBt, may laugh at 
the far-fetched expediation, furely men who 
believe in revelation cannot indulge a doubt 
but that the treating of them like fellow- 
creatures, and the (hewing of mercy to their 
fouls, will on the whole more advance the 
mafter's real interefl, than a method which 



fuffers them to continue in brutifh igno-^ 
ranee of themfelves and their Creator ; which 
obliges them to labour for the fupport of 
their bodies, on a day fet apart for the im^ 
provement of their fouls. 

I know in this cafe it is argued, " to fup- 
** pofe that the work of five days may poili- 
** bly be found as profitable to owners, as 
'* that of fix days, is to exped that God 
" will work a miracle to reward the indui- 
" gence j an extraordinary exertion of pow- 
*^ er, which on fo trivial an occafion, it would 
** be prefumptuous tolookfor." But when 
in any fituation, we doubt God's jufiice or 
goodnefs, we injure his power and wifdom, 
for thefe ad: under their influence. And 
when we imagine him refiiing at a diilance, 
or a(5ling only in great events, we entertain 
improper notions of his relation to the work 
of his own hands. Scripture and reafon, 
when they contemplate the Divine nature, 
join to reprefent him as ever prefent to all 
his works, as quickening every thing that 
liveth, upholding whatever hath a being, as 
directing the operations of nature, and guid- 
ing the actions of men, all to their proper 
purpofeSj in a manner indeed that we cannot 



comprehend j but fo, that a fparrow falls 
not to the ground without his permiHion, and 
that a cup of cold water given for his fake, 
doth not efcape his notice, nor go without 
its reward ; yet in a manner, which leaves 
unreftrained that liberty, by which moral 
agents become accountable for their adiions. 
And if this be the ftate of things, under 
God's government, can we doubt of their 
recompenfe, who, in conformity to God's 
injunctions laid on our firft parents, and 
lince often renewed, allow themfelves and 
their dependents leifure, on the Lord's day, 
to learn their Creator's will, and pay him a 
rational homage and duty ? Humbly to be- 
lieve and exped: this, as declared to us in 
God's general promifes in fcripture, is an 
inftance of faith that we cannot refufe to 
his veracity, who has engaged to perform it. 
Even were we unable to conceive a par- 
ticular method, by which a compenfation 
for this relinquiflied part of our fervants 
labour could be eifeded, when we on that 
account conclude, that the obedience will 
refled: no benefit on us, we diftrufl God's 
promifes, or doubt of his ability to find a 
way to reward our compliance with his 



will. And yet, without working a manifefl: 
miracle, God may give fuccefs to our en- 
deavours, in a thoufand ways, which fhall 
feem to be the natural effects of induilry, or 
of that unknown direction of human affairs, 
which in common account is called chance. 
He may make us ikilful in managing occa- 
fions, fagacious in forefeeing events. He 
may prefervc us from expenfive illnefs, guard 
us from mifchievous neighbours. He may 
blefsus with faithful fervants. He may in- 
cline mens affections to us, and make them 
inflruments in promoting our profperity. 
Endlefs are the methods by which, in an 
unperceived manner, he can turn the com- 
mon accidents of life to reward men who 
prefer duty to prefent advantage, who co- 
operate with his benevolence in promoting 
the happinefs of their fellow-creatures. 

To doubt of a reward, even in this world, 
whenever it fhall be, on the whole, befl for us, 
is to doubt of the propriety and efficacy of 
prayer, and to cut off our hopes of its fuccefs. 
Yet God invites us to make our requefls 
known unto him, and folemnly promifes, 
that when we afk we fhall receive. That it 
will be fo, even in this life, we may pofitive- 



ly conclude, if we confider only the confe- 
quence of this juft refle(flion, " What is 
** called the ordinary courfe of Providence, 
** which governs events, is not the effedl 
" of blind chance, or uncontroulable fate, 
*' but a wife and orderly chain of caufes and 
'* effects, adapted by the Almighty contri- 
** ver, as nicely to the condud; of free 
'' agents, as to the inftinfts of brutes, or 
" the laws of vegetable and inanimate mat- 
** ter." 

It is owned even by men who confider 
flaves as property, and who, having bought 
them, conclude that they have a right ta 
make the moft of their money that the 
working of flaves beyond their ability, fhort- 
ens their lives, and checks their population. 
Do not fuch men acknowledge in this, 
ftrong traces of Divine juftice, punifliing 
cruelty and third of gain by the moft na- 
tural means, by making them countera(S 
and defeat their own purpofe. And by 
parity of reafoning may we not expedt 
Providence to profper by means as na- 
tural, our humane, benevolent attention to 
wretches, whom the crimes and avarice of 
felfifli men have placed in our power ? With 




refped: to religion, unlefs we deny revela- 
tion to be a bleffing, or benefit to mankind, 
we cannot hold ourfelves blamelefs, if w^e 
forbear uling our bell: endeavours to com- 
municate the knowledge of it to every one 
within our reach. x4nd whatever may be^ 
our fuccefs in other refpedls, the pains that 
we ufe to improve the minds of our fel- 
low creatures, will return with advantage 
into our own bofoms. God's grace will 
be ftirred up within us, and our own diipo- 
fition and behaviour will be correded and 

Introdudory Addrefs, in Anfwer to the 
preceding Letter. 

I have perufed with attention, your hu- 
mane and pious remarks on the treatment of 
flaves in the Britifh colonies. I think my- 
felf honoured by your fuppofing me, in par-, 
ticular, capable of being influenced in my 
behaviour towards them, by a confideration 
fo benevolent, as a refpe(ft to their moral 
improvement, and their eternal welfare. In 
return, allow me to think highly of the 
heart, that with a good will, in which the 



meanefl and moft diftant of your kind have 
a fhare, can, in the caufe of humanity and 
religion, thus warmly intereft you for fuch 
unpitied, and defpifed ohjeds as our flaves 
in general are. 

An account which may be depended on, 
in a matter wherein humanity is nearly con- 
cerned, cannot be unfatisfaftory to a mind, 
turned like yours to all the tender feelings. 
And though I fear the emotions which this 
account mufl naturally raife in your breafl:, 
will not be of the cheerful kind, yet I 
doubt not of its producing reflexions, which 
you would not willingly have been without. 
An humble refignation to the meafures of 
Providence, is our duty at all times ; but 
then efpecially, when our concern for God's 
glory, and our brother's eternal welfare, 
feems to mark out an objed: for our whhes 
and prayers, which God is pleafed to keep 
referved among the hidden things of his 
government, till his own good time fhall 
come to reveal, and give it to the world. - 

I wifh indeed, for your eafe, that I could 
have comprehended any tolerable view of 
the fubjed, within more moderate limits ; 
but it became complex under my hands, and 


xvi P R E F A C E* 

drew after it a variety of confiderations. 
Happy ftill fhould I have thought myfelf, 
could I have made this view, fuch as it is, 
exprefs what you charitably wiih it might 
unfold ; could I inform you, that we are 
careful of the bodies, and tender of the fouls 
of thefe our fellow-creatures, thus fubmitted 
to our power, thus abandoned to our huma- 
nity. But truth requires a different, a 
mournful tale of unconcern and unfeeling 

To make this view more complete, I 
ihall firft confider the feveral natural and 
artificial ranks that take place in focial life, 
and more particularly that of mafter and Have 
in the European colonies. I fhali fhew 
how much the public v/ould be profited, 
and how much the mafter would gain, by 
advancing flaves in focial life. I ihall fhew 
how this advancement in fociety, and their 
improvement in religion, muffc neceffarily go 
hand in hand, and aflift each other, if either 
one, or both thefe purpofes, be our view re- 
fpedling them. As extravagance and avarice 
have begun of late to make fad encroachments 
on that reft of the fabbath, which hitherto 
b^d been reckoned facred^ in addition to 




your pious reafons for fetting it apart for the 
purpofes of religion ; I Ihall prove how 
much this inconfiderate robbery hurts the 
mailer's own interefl. I fhall aflert the 
claim of the Negroes to attention from us, by 
explaining their natural capacity, and prov- 
ing them to be on a footing of equality in 
refpedl of the reception of mental improve- 
ment, with the natives of any other country. 
And in conclufion I fhall lay down a plan for 
their improvement and converlion. 





Sed. i« The Ranks into which the 
Members of a Community neccf- 
farily feparate. „ » ^ ^ 

Se6t. 2. Mafter and Slave in ancient 
Times. - - - -19 

Se(ft. 3^. Mafter and Slave in Gothic 
Times. - ~ - - 29 

Se6t. 4. Mafter and Slave as propofed 

by Fletcher for Scotland, Anno 1698 37 

Sed:. 5. Mafter and Slave in the French 
Colonies. _ « - » ^^2 

Bed:. 6. Mafter and Slave in the Bri- 

tifti Colonies. „ - » 62 

Sed:, 7. Mafter and Slave in particular 
Inftances. - - - - 91 


C O N T E N T S. xix 



Sed. I. Their prefent Importance in 

Society as Slaves. - - - 106 

Se(5t. 2. Their prefent Importance in 
Society would be increafed by Free- 
dom. - - - - -113 

Se(3:. 3. Their Mafters would be pro- 
fited by their Advancement. - 118 

Sed:. 4. Their Mailers would be pro- 
fited by allowing them the Privilege 
of a Weekly Sabbath. - - 130 


Sed:. I. Examples of the Difficulty 
found in intruding them in .their 
prefent State. - - ^ ^ 53 

Bed. 2. The Obftacles that the Mora- 
vian Miffions have had to flruggle 
with. - - - - -161 

Se6t. 3. Inefficacy of the Author's pri- 
vate Attempts to inftrud Slaves. i66 

Sed. 4' 


Sed". 4. Inefficacy of the Author's pub- 
lic Attempts to inilrud: Slaves. 178 
Se<3:. 5. The Manner fuggefted, in 
which private Attempts on large 
Plantations to improve Slaves may 
probably fucceed. ^ - _ 181 


Sed:. I. Objedrions to African Capacity 

drawn from Philofophy, confidered. 198 
Se(5t. 2. Objeftions to African Capacity 

drawn from Form, confidered. - 211 
Sed:. 3. Objedions to i\frican Capacity 

drawn from Anatomy, confidered. 219 
Sed:. 4. Objedlions to African Capacity 

drawn from Obfervation, confidered 231 
Bed:. 5. African Capacity vindicated 

from Experience. - - - 241 


Seft. I. Efbablifhment of Clergy, and 
their Duty among Slaves. - - 265 

Sed:. 2. General Improvement of Slaves. 273 

Sed:. 3. Privileges granted, and Police 

extended to Slaves. - - - 28^ 

Conclufiona « =, ^ ^ 


The Reader is defired to corred the following ERRATA. 


55 td note, line 4. after by, read exaSling, 

66 Laft line, for lafl r. Eafi. 

74 Note, line 7. for arrive r. arife, 
116 Note, line 3. for 1750 r. 1650. 
134 Line 13. for fmgle x- Jimple\ 
150 Line 6 from the bottom r. tliefe two inere meant. 
166 Line i. r. work of the week. 
175 Line 9. r. without a certain. 
213 Line 4. for call x, chufe. 
239 Line 16. for town r. to<wns. 
260 Line 8. r. the nobleft fruit of religion, charity. 
297 Line 6 from the bottom, for 4000,000 r. 400,000. 


O N T H E 

Treatment and Conversion 

O F 




C H A P. I. 

Of the various Ranks in SOCIAL LIFE. 

THERE is a natural inequality, or 
diverfity, which prevails among men 
that fits them for fociety, enables them to 
fill up all the different offices of polifhed life, 
and forms their varied abilities, nay, even 
their particular defeds and v^ants, into a 
firm band of union. Where the arrange- 

A ment 

2 On the Treatment and 

ment of thefe varied attributes in liian is 
condudled in fociety by the views of nature, 
or the did:ates of revelation v^hich explain 
and inforce them, there the feelings and 
interefts of the weaker, or inferior mem- 
bers, are confulted equally with thofe of 
the ftronger or fuperior. Each man takes 
that ftation for which nature intended him; 
and his rights are fenced around, and his 
claims are retrained, by laws prefcribed by 
the Author of nature : for He is the only 
rightful legiflator; and human regulations 
are in a moral fenfe binding, only when they 
can be traced immediately, or in principle, 
to this pure origin. As the creation of man 
had the general improvement and happinefs 
of the race in view, every law that refpedls 
him muft fuppofe an attention to this pur- 
pofe of his being, and therefore cannot 
regard the intereft of one at the expence of 
another. All, as far as is confiftent with 
general good, mufl be left to the free ufe 
of their powers and acquifitions, or of life, 
liberty, and property. In the ufe of thefe, 
within the limits of law, confifls the only 
equality that can take place among men; 
and it is evident that the extent of this ufe 


Conversion of African Slaves. 3 

mufl vary according to the different fituation 
of each individual, and the capacity, or 
power of exertion, which he polTefleth, 
and farther muft be affeded by the ftate of 
improvement, that the community, of which 
he is a member, has attained. 

Oppofed to this law of nature, and of God, 
that gives and fecures to every man the rights 
adapted to his particular ftation in fociety, 
ilands the artificial, or unnatural relation of 
mafter and Have; where power conflitutes 
right ; where, according to the degree of his 
capacity of coercion, every man becomes 
his own legillator, and ereds his intereft, or 
his caprice, into a law for regulating his 
condud: to his neighbour. And as the one 
draws its origin from the heavenly fountain 
of benevolence, fo the other may be traced 
to the infernal enemy of all goodnefs. For 
here no mutual benefit is confulted, but 
every wifh, every feeling, is fubmitted to 
the mandate of a felfifh tyrant. Yet the 
influence of this luft for acting the mafter 
has been fo univerfal, and has obtained fo 
long, as to oblige us alfo, in principle, to 
deduce it immediately from that love of 
power, which, within the boundaries pre- 

A 2 fcribed 

4 On the Treatment and 

fcribed by nature, makes a part of our con- 
flitution ', it not being poffible to account 
for its having fo generally prevailed, as we 
find it has in the v^orld, on any other fup- 
pofition than its being an abufe of what is 
natural to mankind, excited and cheriflied 
in them by an enemy to their virtue and 

For, as far back as hiflory carries us, we 
read of mailer and Have. Even in the favage 
flate, cuftom, which leaves men on a footing 
of equality, has enllaved wives. Among 
our negro flaves, he who cannot attach to 
himfelf a wife, or fubdue any other creature, 
buys fome half ftarved dog, over whom he 
may exercife his tyrannic difpofition. 
If thefe be the unalienable claims of human 
nature, and this the pradlice of mankind 
oppofed to them, how necelTary muil it be 
to fix fuch boundaries, as may preferve the 
rights of the weak from the incroachments 
of the ftrong. And this cannot be done in 
a more effedlual manner, than by drawing 
the natural, and the artificial ftate of fociety, 
each in its proper colours, and leaving the 
decision to the common fenfe of mankind. 


Conversion of African Slaves. 5 


The Ranks into which the Members of a 
Community necefTarily feparate. ' 

In every independent ftate, whether monar- 
chy or republic, that has got beyond the 
iirft fteps of civilization, the people, or 
citizens, naturally divide into fovereign and 
fubjedt, mafter and family, employer and 
employed 3 all other ranks being arbitrary 
or artificial. 

The fovereign declares and executes the 
will of the people at large. He mufl: there- 
fore be fupreme, or uncontroulable by any 
particular number, or part of the people. 
His authority muft extend over all ranks, 
comprehend all poffible cafes, and conclude 
every particular diftrid:. In this fenfe he 
is arbitrary, or intruded with the power of 
enabling and abrogating laws, within the 
limits which man's conftitution, and the 
dictates of morality prefcribe. But as the fo- 
vereign, whether hereditary or eledlive, 
permanent or temporary, one or many adling 
together in one body, is intrufted with this 
power for the benefit of the people, which 

A 3 fup- 

6 On the Treatment and 

fuppofeth it to be exercifed for the general 
good ', therefore the law, or will of the 
fovereign ihould be declared in general 
terms, that it may affed: individuals only by 
inference in particular cafes, and conclude 
the perfon of the fovereign in his ordinary 
condud:, and individual capacity, equally 
with the fubjed:.* 

It is the general purpofe of every govern- 
ment, that, in extraordinary cafes, conftitutes 
the people judges of their fovereign's con- 
duct, and juftifies them in refuming a power, 
which, in refped: of its end, muft be con- 
lidered as delegated. Such a cafe happened 
at the revolution. But the occalion may 

* This circumfiance is carried to a great length in the 
Britifh conftitution with the happieft efFefts. The Houfe of 
Peers helps to compofe the legillature ; but each member, as 
an individual, continues fubjeft to the laws. The Houfe of 
Commons pofleffes, for a time limited, a fhare in the legif- 
lation; but each reprefentative is a private citizen, under 
the operation of the laws ; and, after a time, the whole mixes 
with the mafs of the people, to obey, as fubjedls, thofe 
ftatutes that they had affiiled to frame. The perfon of the 
king alone, out of refpeft to his office, is not made the objed 
of coercive law. It is this mixed character of legiflator and 
citizen in our rulers that makes authority compatible with 
freedom ; not the particular proportion of thole who have 
the privilege of elefting them, or their numbers, or the 
period for which they may have been chofen. 


Conversion of African Slaves. 7 

fafely continue to be left, as it v^^as then, to 
the feelings of the people. Deligning 'men, 
otherwife unable to work themfelves into 
notice, are, under the maik of patriotifm, 
fo ready to fet up, at every trifle, a clamour 
againjfl: government, to enhance their price, 
or pave the way to their own ambition, 
that a virtuous citizen will not eafily fuffer 
himfelf to be drawn in to join the cry. 

A free ftate, then, is that in which known 
laws bind equally fovereign and fubjedl. 
A proclamation forbidding the exportation 
of grain is an ad: of power, refting on the 
propriety of the meafure. A vote of credit 
is as illegal a manner of railing money 
on the fubjedt, as was formerly £hip-money, 
or a benevolence -, though it may not be 
followed by all their bad confequences. 
Both fhew a defed: in the conftitution which 
wants to be corrected by a general law, 
prefcribing the proper condud; in particular 
exigencies. The law that fliut up Bollon 
Port was hard, becaufe particular. A law 
to /liut up every port, where the revenue 
laws are reiifted, would be jull and equi- 
table. Thus might a didatorial authority, 
(I mean a latent power to be occalionally 
A 4 called 

S On the Treatment and 

called forth) which is TiecefTary in every 
flate, be eftablifhed on a legal foundation, 
and be kept from tranfgreffing its due 

Families are, in the detail, what commu- 
nities are at large, except that the head, or 
mailer of the family, having a kind of 
property, either continued or temporary, 
in all under his roof, governs by the didlates 
of difcretion, rather than by known laws. 
Still the good, even of the loweft member of 
the family, mufl be a co-operating principle. 
And that family, whofe government ap- 
proaches neareft to the regular method, 
which prefcribed known rules fuppofe, 
where the claims, and duty, or buiinefs, of 

* The cafes, for which it is neceflary to provide a didatorial 
power, may eafily be forefeen, and be provided for in one 
general Itatute, to be binding till the legiflature can be af- 
fembled to deliberateon the fubjedl. The circumftances that 
make it proper to fufpend the Habeas Corpus Aft, to open or 
ihut the portSj to lay embargoes, to give a vote of credit, 
may eafily be enumerated. But arbitrary undefined power 
has charms too alluring to be resigned by any, who find them- 
felves in pofTcffion of it. Even our Houfe of Commons, 
while afting as guardian of the privileges of the people, 
choofes to fubmit its right of commitment, in cafes of con- 
tempt, to the capricious decifion of any ordinary magiftrate, 
rather than permit the circumftances of the claim to be de- 
fined by a pofitive law. 


Conversion of African Slaves. 9 

each individual is diftindly afcertained, 
will, on the whole, be befl managed, and 
allow the perfons compoiing it to enjoy the 
greateft poffible freedom in their flations. 

In this light the rank of mailer and fervant 
is comprehended in that of family 3 fervants, 
as a part of the family, are fubjed: to its 
rules, and, as contributing to its eafe, are in- 
titled to its advantages. But as the agreement 
between the mafler and fervant is voluntary, 
prefcribing the duty on one fide, and af- 
certaining the wages on the other, it may 
likewife be conlidered under the head of 
employer and employed. The want, at iirft 
view, appears to be reciprocal 3 but cuftom 
has univerfally affixed to property the idea 
of fuperiority over perfonal ability, or labour. 
It is in this particular view, of emolument 
of office, that magiflrates may be faid to be 
the fervants of the people, though when their 
authority, and not their maintenance, is con- 
fidercd, they may be faid to partake of 

The poiTeffing of materials, or a fubjed: to 
be improved for ufe by the fkill or labour of 
another, fuppofeth in the pofTefTor a right 
to prefcribe the manner in which that /kill 


10 On the Treatment and 

is to be exercifed, or that labour performed j 
and on allowing a certain reward or advant;age 
to the man, thus employed, to appropriate 
to his (the pofTefTor's) own ufe the labour, or 
improved materials. This fuperiority is bal- 
lanced on the fide of the workman, by his 
being free to refufe or accept the condition. 
It varies with the demand for labour, and 
with the number of thofe, who offer them-^ 
felves to the work^ but mutual want and 
mutual utility is the band that connedts 
them together. 

Similar to this, is the relation between the 
mechanic, or artizan, and his cuflomer. 
The artizan provides his own materials, and 
works for the public: yet, though he fets 
his own price on his workmanihip j and the 
cuftomer, without having made a previous 
bargain, can only refufe or agree to the con- 
dition, the confideration of having given 
occalion for the employment, in moft cafes, 
transfers the fuperiority to the cullomer. 

In the cafe of the learned profeffions, 
there is, indeed, fome variety; but the like 
analogy of employment on the one fide, 
and encouragement on the other, runs 
through the whole. Particular perfons fludy, 


Conversion OF African Slaves, ii 

and make themfelves acquainted with 
fciences, that are generally ufeful, with a 
view of being employed by the public, and 
of drawing a maintenance, and deriving 
diftindion from the exercife of their feveral 

Religion, independent of its relation to 
the Supreme Being, is fo neceiTary to fupply 
the defect of law, and to inforce obedience 
to government by the influence of con- 
fcience, that hitherto, in every poliflied 
flate, it has made apart of the confhitution; 
and becaufe it is apt to be perverted to bad 
purpofes, by ill deligning men, its profef- 
fors have always been an important object 
of the public attention.* They are fettled 
in every little corner of the ftate as monitors, 
or cenfors of the people, and they have their 
maintenance afcertained out of the labours 
of thofe, whom they are appointed to ex- 

* If it be objefted, that the original conftitution of feveral 
of the American provinces is an exception, it may be anfwered, 
that thefe provinces were fettled under the proteftion of a ftate, 
of whofe conftitution an eftabliflied religion made an eflential 
part; and, at a period, when the hopes and fears of futurity had 
a general influence, independent of public eftablifhments ; and 
that they have not had a length of time, or, till within thefe few 
laft years, been in circumftances to fliew the genuine eftefts of 
fach a peculiarity. 


12 On the Treatment and 

hort and inftrud:. Their fupport cannot, 
any more than that of the magiftrates, be 
left by government to the voluntary choice 
of the people, becaufe thofe, who moll 
need to be controuled by the miniftry 
of both, favour their inftitution leail, and 
would be far from contributing willingly to 
their maintenance. It would be unjufl: to 
expeift, that the good citizen fhould alone be 
taxed to fupport that m.agiflrate, whom the 
condud: of the bad renders efpecially necef- 
fary; or that the pious man alone Ihould 
contribute to maintain that minifter, who, 
as far as refped:s the ftate, is eftablifhed 
chiefly to moderate the profligacy of the 
vicious. The lowell members of the ftate, 
men infenfible of the neceffity of eftablifh" 
ments, and generally unable to contribute 
to them, yet at the fame time objects of 
them, and pofleffing importance fufficient to 
demand the public care, are the great con- 
fideration in the inftitution of magiflrate and 
minifter. The public, therefore, muft efta- 
blifli equally, and maintain both. The clergy, 
by their eftablifhment, become fervants of 
the public, for promoting order and good 
condu(ft among the people, by the hopes and 


Conversion of African Slaves. 13 

fears of religion. As fuch they have their 
duty prefcribed, and their maintenance, and 
rights, afcertained by law ; which fixes the 
limits of each, and prevents their encroach- 

Men are fo attentive to whatever regards 
their health, or property ; and the emolu- 
ments, and diftindtion, which accompany 
eminence in the profeffions relating to 
them, encourage fuch numbers to apply to 
them, that government has feldom been, 
obliged to meddle with the prad:ice of law 
or phyfic. A man applies to that phyfician, 
or lawyer, who has his confidence^ and he 
muft exert ikill and addrefs to preferve that 
difi:indion. Here the dependence and utility 
are reciprocal, and adequate to the purpofe. 
Thefe profeflions, though a confequence of 
fociety, yet refpecfl each man chiefly as an 
individual; on this account, except in 
flagrant abufes, they are fafely left to private 
interefl, and private exertion. But religion, 
in its efl:abli{hment, refpecfting chiefly pub- 
lic order, and private improvement only 
as far as it is fubfidiary to the other, its pro- 
fefTors are confidered as auxiliaries to the 
magiftrate, and thus, being fervants of the 
ftate, are fupported at the public charge. 


14 On the Treatment and 

In the profeffion of arms there is fome-^ 
thing more particular; but jftill the general 
analogy takes place. In it one part of the 
community comes under certain engage- 
ments for the prefervation of the wholei 
but the exigency is fuppofed to be preffing, 
and the purpofe national. When it is necef- 
fary to eftablifh an army, the foldier becomes 
obliged to obey his general. Here the foldier 
proted;s himfelf, his family, his country: 
and to do this with effed:, he fubmits to 
fuch orders as are conducive to that end; 
and in the exercife of his duty his country 
cares for, and maintains, him. He, therefore, 
is alfo the fervant of the public, and, as 
fuch, is employed, and maintained by it; 
being as neceflary, in time of peace, to pre- 
ferve the little 'police that licentioufnefs 
has fuffered to remain among us, as, in time 
of war, to defend us from our enemies. 

Now in the cafe of the laws, which refped: 
government and people, the rule is general, 
fixed, and known, and equally binds the 
fovereign and citizen. Prejudice, caprice, or 
intereft, cannot fingle out an individual to 
tyrannize over him. In the cafe of a family, 
its ftrid; union and affection bind it in one 
common interefl, and caufe the members to 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 15 

rejoice or fufFer together. In the cafe of the 
labourer or artizan, he being at liberty to 
accept or refufe an offer from a particular 
employer or cuftomer, and this lafl being 
alfo free in making his agreement, and 
obliged to comply with it, when determined 
on; thefe conditions fecure both parties 
equally from injury and oppreffion. In the 
learned profeffions, the like circumftances 
produce limilar effed:s. Even in the pro- 
feffion of arms an equality is preferved in the 
compadl, and fentiment and honours com- 
penfate for the refignation of fome of the 
privileges of citizenfhip. 

But in the arbitrary relation of mafter and 
Have, no law reftrains the one, no eledlion 
or compad: fecures the other. The mafter 
may invade the deareft rights of humanity, 
and trample on the plainefl rules of juflicej 
the flave cannot change his tyrant, or remon- 
ftrate againll; the impropriety, perhaps im- 
poffibility, of his tallc. 

The authority which men allow to the 

laws that govern them, has its foundation in 

general utility, and the reafon of things : 

and as all law is, or ought to be found- 

ed on our conftitution, it, according to 
what has beea obferved, draws its ultimate 


i6 On the Treatment and 

fan(5lioh from the God of nature, and thus 
interefts confcience in the obedience due to 
it. Here the equality and comprehenlive- 
nefs of the rule fecure the individual from 
oppreffiouj he can be affedled only together 
with the community, or when he puts him- 
felf in the cafe forbidden generally by the 
law. Hence it is that all Bills of Attainder 
muft carry oppreffion and injuftice in their 
very form, being calculated not for general 
utility or prevention, as laws ihould be, 
but for particular deflrudiion ; not for guard- 
ing againil crimes, but for creating them. 
The deference claimed by the employer or 
cuflomer, and the refped; paid by, or to 
the learned profeffions, according to the 
rank of the perfons concerned, have their 
foundation in the regard fhewn to wealth, 
learning, or power; and their excefs is 
guarded againft by the nature of the com- 
pact, and the power of affent lodged with 
the labourer, artizan, or inferior perfon. 
Now as far as the deference refped:ing the 
employer extends, it fuppofeth as real a 
fuperiority, limited only in its operation to 
the defign thereof, as that of mafter over 
flavcj and as it arifeth from the ranks into 
which fociety univerfally feparates men, it 


Conversion of African Slaves, ij 

may be called fecial fervitude, which muft 
take place in the freeft ftate.* 

Here the fervant makes his compadl 
with the mafter, or fuperior, and frames it 
to agree with his feelings, and to fall in with 
his abilities j and when the terms of his 
agreement are fulfilled, his time and his 
enjoyments are in his own power. But in 
the llavery of our colonies, the larger part 
of the community is literally facrificed to 
the lefs; their time, their feelings, their 
perfons, are fubjed to the intereft, the 
caprice, the fpite of mafters. and their fub- 
ftitutes, without remedy, without recom- 
pence, v/ithout profpecfts. This may be 
called artificial fervitude, unprofitable to the 

* In the conteft between Britain and America, it may be 
remarked, that the friends of the latter contended not for the 
equality of men, confidered as individuals unconnefted in 
fociety, till mutual benefit brought them together, and formed 
the diltiniSlion of ranks ; for in this light Americans have 
made as inconfiderate matters to as miferable flaves as can 
any where be found. But they contended for the prefent aftual 
equality of all men, with an exception to their own flaves. 
And again, to fupport the argument, they were obliged to 
fuppofe fociety diflblved, and men reduced to that folitary, 
favage Itate, where fuch equality only can take place. For 
fociety cannot be maintained, even in idea, but by the ine- 
quality of condition, and various ranks neceflarily arifmg 
from the focial compadl-— So eafy is it for men to take fuch 
parts of reafonirig as belt fuit their prefent purpofe. 

B public. 

iS On the Treatment and 

public, burdenfome even to the mafter^ 
intolerable to the fervant, repugnant to hu- 

A law, for the purpofe of police, may direct 
the ftrength and induflrv of the citizens to 
a particular obje<5t; as when it encourages, 
by a temporary monopoly, the eflabliiliment 
of a certain flaple or manufa(5lure; n-ay, for 
purpofes which refped: the flate, it may in 
certain points, and for a certain period, fub- 
jed: the perfon of one man to another, as 
in forming an army. But we cannot fuppofe 
a law that ihall fubjedl the perfon of one man 
to the private purpofes of another, with- 
out once ftipulating the extent of the au- 
thority, the nature of the fervice, or the 
fufficiency of the recompence. Such a law, 
by putting, perhaps, the greater part of the 
community out of the protection of all law, 
would be inconfiftent v^ith the notion of 
fociety. For the prime delign of fociety is 
the extenlion of the operation of law, and 
the equal treatment and protection of the 
citizens. Slavery, therefore, being the ne- 
gation of law, cannot arife from law, or be 
compatible with it. As far as llavery pre- 
vails in any community, fo far muft that 
community be defeClive in anfwering the 


Conversion of African Slaves. 19 

purpofes of fociety. And this v^e affirm to 
be in the highefl degree the cafe of oiir 
colonies. Slavery, indeed, in the manner 
wherein it is found there, is an unnatural 
ftate of oppreffion on the one fide, and of 
fufFering on the other ; and needs only to be 
laid open or expofed in its native colours, 
to command the abhorrence and oppolition 
of every man of feeling and fentiment. 


Mafter and Slave in ancient Times. 

We are taught, by the highell: authority, 
that Mofes adapted feveral of his inftitutions 
to the particular difpofition of his country- 
men. He did not attempt to prohibit 
flavery among them, perhaps, becaufe they 
were not then more ripe for it, than for the 
indifToluble band of matrimony; but while 
he allowed them to make flaves of the con- 
quered Canaanites and their poflerity, he 
endeavoured to render their lot eafy, and the 
behaviour of maflers humane. Indeed, in the 
early ages, it is in a manner peculiar to him, 
and the Athenian legillators, (of whom here- 
after) to have paid in the cafe of flaves a 
proper attention to the referved and unalien- 
able rights of human nature. 

B 2 He 

20 On the Treatment and 

He enads, that there fhould be one law, 
one rule of juftice for the native and for the 
ftranger ; which is in diredl oppofition to 
fome of our colony laws, where the evidence 
of even a free African will not be taken 
againfl a white man. He fecures good ufage 
to the flave, by commanding, that if his maf- 
ter, in beating him, flrike out but a fingle 
tooth, he fhall have his freedom. He or- 
dains the perfonal flavery of every Jew 
to terminate in the beginning of the feventh, 
or fabbatical year, whether near at hand, or 
diftant, when that commenced. He guards 
effed:ually againft a groveling llavilh fpirit 
among his people, by condemning him to 
perpetual flavery, who, inticed by kind treat- 
ment from his mailer, ihould fhow a dif- 
regard of this noble privilege of the iabba- 
tical year. He calls repeatedly on his peo- 
ple to remember, that they themfclves had 
been flaves in Egypt ^ and, therefore, from 
motives of fellow-feeling fhould make the 
condition of their flaves eafy and agreeable to 
them. He bids them treat well flrangers of 
one country, becaufe they had been flrangers 
in their land; others, becaufe they v/ere of 
the fame lineage with themfelves. He tells 


Conversion of African Slaves. 21 

them, that the inftitutlon of a w^eekly fabbath 
had in contemplation, the benevolent pur- 
pofe of giving reft to the v^earied Have, and 
a refpite from toil, even to the wearied ox. 

Among thofe nations that had not the 
light of revelation to diredt their condud, 
the Athenians deferve the firft place: they 
were indulgent, eafy, and kind to their Haves, 
when compared with their neighbours. 
And well this condefcenlion became a peo- 
ple, who, by mere force of genius, advanced 
human nature much nearer to perfedtion 
than any other nation. That their good fenfe 
did not, in every particular, carry them to 
that equality of behaviour towards their 
ilaves, which humanity might expert, or be- 
nevolence fuggeft, is not fo much to be 
wondered at, as that they fhould be able to 
oppofe the example of all their neighbours 
for capricious feverity, and in the chief lines 
of their condud: refpediing fuch ill-fated 
beings, fhould give occaiion to the obferva- 
tion, that the life of a Have at Athens was 
much happier than that of a freeman in 
any other Grecian ftate. 

If Athenian flaves were treated with cruel- 
ty by their maftcrs, they might claim pro- 

B 3 te(Sion 

22 On the Treatment and 

tedion in the Temple of Thefeus : there 
they remained in fafety till the fubjed: of 
complaint could be tried at law. Nor, in 
that cafe, did the law ruin, or refufe to re- 
lieve, thofe whom it pretended to affifl; 
for juftice was diilributed to rich and poor 
at the expence of the public. If the com- 
plaint of the flave was found to be juft, 
the mafter was obliged to affign over his 
fervice to fome other perfon. Slaves could 
demand an exchange of mafters, if their 
mafter had made any attempt on their 
chaftity. The law alfo gave them protec- 
tion and remedy, in their own names and 
perfons, againfl: every injury that might 
have been done them by any citizen, not 
their mafcer, 

Athenian flaves were not rellrained in any 
of the common amufements of fociety. 
They were allowed to acquire property, on 
paying their mailers a certain yearly rate. 
If able to purchafe their freedom, they might 
demand it of their mafter for a determined 
price. Their mafters fometimes, the ftate 
often, rewarded their fervice and fidelity with 
freedom ; in particular, after having been 
pjice employed in war, they were fure to be 


Conversion of African Slaves. 23 

made free. Contrary to the policy of modern 
times, the Athenians deemed no man fit to 
defend the ilate, but him who was worthy to 
be a member of it. 

The Athenians reaped the advantage of 
their moderation and humanity. For though, 
by the lowefl calculation, their country con- 
tained three grown male Haves for one free- 
man, notice is taken, in their hiftory, of 
only one infurrecflion among their miners; 
and once, in time of war, of a con- 
liderable number who deferted from their 
mafters, and abandoned the country. On 
the other hand, their neighbours, the Spar- 
tans, who, through a wantonly cruel policy, 
were continually harrailing, ill treating, 
oppreffing, nay, to keep their hands ac- 
cuflomed to blood, butchering their Haves, 
were held in conflant alarms by them, and 
often were brought into extreme danger, by 
their defperate attempts to regain their 
liberty. Yet the condition of flaves among 
the Spartans, from the circumftance of their 
being generally the property of the pub- 
lic, and attached to the foil, more readily 
admitted of univerfal relaxation and in- 
dulgence, than it did among the Athenians, 
where they were chiefly private property. 

B 4 There 

24 On the Treatment and 

There is fuch a conformity, not only in 
thefe, but other particulars, between the 
laws of Mofes, enacted during the fabulous 
ages of Greece, and thefe laws, eftabliflied 
in its improved ftate, long after that time, 
by a people defervedly celebrated, as the 
beft cultivated, the moil fenfible, and 
humane among the ancient nations, as might 
have fecured to that great man a little more 
refped: than he in common meets with, 
among the wits and reafoners of the prefent 
age; who, while they deny his divine mif- 
iion, in that denial, muft acknowledge his 
foreiight, his benevolence, his knowledge 
of the human heart, above every charafter 
in antiquity. For his laws continue, at 
this day, to be obeyed by a conliderable peo- 
ple, in the moft inconvenient circum- 
flances, while all other laws of former ages 
are loft in the gulph of time, or are only 
to be found in fragments in old negleded 



* Even the law that abfolves a mafler for flaying his flave, 
in the cafe of his not dying till two days after the ftroke, 
bears a ftrong analogy to that tendernefs in the common law 
of England, that diftinguiflies between homicide and murder, 
and, as it were loth to find the culprit guilty, takes the 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 25 

In the infant ftate of Rome, ilaves 
worked, and lived with their mafters, with- 
out much diflindtion of rank or ufage. 
But in proportion as luxury increafed among 
the Romans, the condition of their Ilaves 
funk gradually down to the loweil: degree of 
wretchednefs and mifery. And indeed fuch 
reprefentations as the ftatue of the dying 
gladiator, which exhibits the life of a brave 
ufeful man facri.ficed, not to the fafety of 
his country, but to the barbarous whim of, 
perhaps, the moft worthlefs fet of men that 
ever were affembled together in one place;* 

deadlinefs of the weapon into account; and it ftiews, that 
among the Jews, the magiflrateinterpofed between the mafter 
and his flave; which, in fome of our colonies, has not been 
the cafe, even when ftiocking circumftances of murder have 
loudly called for it. 

* In what an amiable point of view doth the following 
incident place the Athenians, even in their latter degenerate 
ftate ? Some fycophants of the Romans, then their mailers, 
had propofed to them, in a publick afTembly, to imitate their 
lords, in the exhibition of ihows of prize fighters, and gladi- 
ators in their theatres. A worthy citizen, who was prefent, 
afFe£led to applaud the flattering meafure, and requelled his 
fellow-citizens only firfl: to accompany him and help him to 
throw down the altar, which, in their better times, they had 
erefted to mercy. That fenfible people felt immediately 
the grave rebuke; and were the only ftate in Greece, that 
had courage to forbeay imitating the barbarity of their 


26 On the Treatment and 

the fcandalous traffic that the elder Cato 
carried on in the natural feelings of his 
Haves, his fetting them adrift to ftarve in 
their old age,* when they could no longer 
be ferviceable to him, the condemning of 
them to fifh-ponds for trivial faults j all thefe 
things mufl: fill every refled:ing man with 
fuch abhorrence of, and indignation at, the 
condud; of the Romans, in the charafter of 
mafters, in their advanced ftate of empire, 
as muft prove them unworthy of being 
drawn into example, except to be execrated 
for their condu(5l. While they fancied them- 
felves lords of the world, they forgot that 
they were men; while they indulged their 
amufement, they ilifled their humanity. 
Indeed, what could be expelled from a peo- 
ple capable of receiving a law, that, accord- 

• How inconfiftent with himfelf is man. He, who, in 
his own conduft, could debafe himfelf by fuch afts of mean- 
nefs and cruelty, when Cenfor, degraded Lucius, the brother 
of Flaminius, becaufe he had indulged the capricious curiofity 
of a favourite boy, with the fcene of a man dying a violent 
death, in the perfon of a flave, whom, for that purpofe, 
he flew with his own hand. — -The traffic referred to above, 
was his locking up his female flaves, and hiring them out, by 
the night, to fuch males as could lay down a certain price for 


Conversion of African Slaves. 27 

ing to the ufual interpretation of it, in a 
cafe of infolvency, ordained a fellov/- citizen 
to be cut piece meal, and be divided among 
his creditors ? 

But how miferable the condition of flaves 
in general was among the ancients, may be 
colledled from the opinion and example of 
that benevolent and difcreet philofopher, 
Plutarch, who yet has very freely cenfured 
the inhuman behaviour of others. He af- 
fures us, that the only effecflual way of nia-v 
naging a Have is by the difcipline of the 
whipj thataflaveis incapable of underflanding 
any arguments, except ilripes, and a chain. 
And agreeably to this opinion he is intro- 
duced to us, as in a charafteriftic ad:ion of 
his life, fliewing how coolly a philofopher 
could flea the back of a poor friendlefs, help- 
lefs wretch.* Farther, Demofthenes, who, 


* The hiftory is this : He had ordered the Have to be cor- 
refted. The fellow muttered; and obferved, that a man, 
like his matter, who pretended to aft the Philofopher, and to 
hold all his palTions and afteftions equally poifed, behaved 
in a manner unbecoming his charadler, when, on any pciTible 
provocation, he fell into fuch a paflion with a poor Have, 
3.5 could be fatiated only by flalhing and cutting him un- 

28 On the Treatment and 

in every thing refpeding the freedom, and 
characfler of his country, feems infpired with 
the very genius of liberty, lays it down as 
a maxim not to be controverted, that the 
higheil evidence, and teilimony moil to be 
depended on, is what is forced out of a 
flave by torture. 

Adrian is the iirfl on record, who, by an 
edidt, deprived the mafter of the power of 
life and death in his family. As the bene- 
volence of the Chrillian religion, about 
his time, had fecretly, yet univerfally, in- 
fmuated itfelf into the fentiments, and tinc- 
tured the reafoning, of the learned j and as 
he was more fond of the title of Philofo- 
pher than of Emperor, it is beyond con- 
jedture, that this edid:, at that particular 

mercifully with a whip. Plutarch, quibbling with the wretch, 
obferves, in anfwer, that paffion generally had marks by 
which its prefence was denoted : an elevated tone, a flulhing 
countenance, a threatening look ; could he have any of thefe, 
or the violence that they expreffed, who argued the matter 
with all the calmnefs of a ftoic. And as the executioner 
had interrupted his ftrokes, waiting for the iifue of the 
difcourfe, he coolly bids him proceed in his method of incul- 
cating knowledge by the whip, while he and Syrus difcufTed 
the fubjeft philofophically. But a man mull have fpent fome 
time in the fouthern provinces of North America, or our fugar 
colonics, to be able to imagine the fccne, 


Conversion of African Slaves. 29 

time, owed its origin to revealed religion ; 
and within a fliort period after this, perfonal 
flavery, by the fame influence, was abolifhed 
throughout the empire*. 


Mafter and Slave in Gothic Times. 

The inundation of the northern nations, 
that broke into the Roman Empire, and the 
feudal tenures that were introduced by it, 
gave rife to a new fpecies of flavery in Eu- 

* Raynall aflerts, that the abolition of flavery and Paga 
nifm, by edift, in the time of Conftantine, brought on the 
ruin of the Roman Empire. Doubtlefs every violent change 
in a ftate, muft bring danger with it. But, perhaps, it will 
be difficult for any, but a modern philofopher, who follows 
Hume in his paradoxes, to conceive how the extenfion of 
fentiment and freedom fliould fpread ruin among a p6ople. 
That empire had begun to nod to its fall, long before this 
change could have produced any cffeft. The univerfal de- 
generacy of manners, the contempt of religion, the preva- 
lence of Epicurean notions, the difregard of national cha- 
rafter, the effeminacy of the foldiers, their lofs of difcipline, 
the inftability of the government, and the natural courfe of 
human grandeur, are fufficient to account for the downfal 
of that fabric, under the rude Ihock of furrounding favages. 
That Chriftianity produced this effeft of abolifhing flavery, 
is the opinion alfo of Fletcher ; for which fee Scft. IV. of this 


^o On the Treatment anb 

rope, the remains of which are yet to be 
found, particularly in Denmark and Poland* 
But it appears, that, in general, this flavery 
confifted in obliging the conquered nations 
to cultivate their own lands, and render to 
the conquerors fuch a part of the produce 
as they thought proper to afcertain. This 
condition naturally connedled the labourers 
with the foil which they cultivated; and it 
rofe into a cuflom to transfer them together 
from one proprietor to another : and, doubt- 
lefs, there were many reduced alfo to the 
condition of domeftic ilaves. But, like 
the Swedilh prifoners made at the battle of 
Pultowa, they became the teachers and re- 
formers of their mafters . And as thefe were 
by degrees converted to religion and won to 
civilized life, fo this ftate of fubordination went 
on approaching gradually to the condition of 
equality, or rather of that reciprocal focial 
dependence, which we have ihewn muft exift 
between the fervant and mailer. And among 
the many fad things that we every day hear 
of popes, priefts, and prieftcraft, this mull 
be acknowledged to their credit, (they are 
indeed charged with it by their enemies) that 
their influence was conllantly ufed with the 


Conversion of African Slaves. 31 

converts, to procure the manumiffion, or 
at leail; the humane treatment of their flaves. 
Such has been conftantly the natural effe(5l of 
Chriftianity, in every pofTible form, to 
favour perfonal as well as mental liberty, 
till the gradual improvement of fociety, the 
exteniion of fentiment, and flu(5luation of 
property, become fufficient to change per- 
fonal llavery into a voluntary compact of fer- 
vicQ and fidelity on the one fide, of wages and 
protection on the other : a compadt, v/hich 
fuppofeth that ftate of mutual dependence 
effential to poiiflied fociety, and which 
may be confidered as entering originally 
into the plan thereof, and I trull is not intirely 
out of fight in the cafe of which we treat.* 
Indeed this latter fiavery, in its woril ftate, 
muft, after the converfion of the mafiiers, have 
been far preferable to the ancient fiavery of the 
heathens, or the modern fiavery of the negroes 
in the European colonies. The Chrifi:ian flaves 
of Chrifi:ian mafters were confidered as entitled 
to certain rights, on which a mafier could 

* The Banians in India are, at this day, fupplied with 
flaves from Abyfllnia. But as foon as they are brought home, 
they are treated as children of tlie family ; they are inftrudled 
in fome ufeful trade ; they are allowed to raife families, and 
maintain them with the profits of their labour, with which the 
mailer meddles not. 



On the Treatment and 

not encroach : particularly, the making of the 
ceremony of marriage a religious folemnity, 
and its obligations of confequence indilTo- 
luble, except by death, drew after it all the 
claims and rights of a family. Their wor- 
fhipping at the fame altar, and their being 
confidered as entitled, equally with their 
mailers, to all the fpiritual advantages an- 
nexed to the profeffion of Chriftianity, 
were circumftances which the priefts were 
careful to ufe to the beil advantage in their 
favour: and, in an age, wherein the pro- 
mifes and threats of religion influenced, at 
leaft, the outward condud: of the people, 
and its dodrines made generally a part of the 
reafoning in ufcj* when its minifliers were 
held in honour, and their injuncflions car- 
ried with them reverence and authority for 
their Mafter's fake, thefe were effed;ual and 
prevailing topics. The people alfo reaped 
advantages from thefe difputes between the 

* This Is exceedingly well exemplified in what is called the 
truce of God or the church, when the fabbaths, and folemn 
times, and feftivals of the church, gave a refpite to thofc 
cruel depredations and murders that each village-tyrant or 
lord of a caftle, thofe former felf-ere£led legiilators, thought 
himfelf permitted, at other times, to perpetrate among his 


Conversion of African Slaves. 33 

kings and their barons. Kings favoured the 
liberty of burghers and peafants, becaufe 
every individual abfolved of his allegiance 
to a baron, was an auxiliary detached from 
an enemy or rival lord.* 

Had Europe, as a much diflinguifhed quar- 
ter of the globe, reaped no other focial ad- 
vantage from the eftablifliment of Chrifti- 
anity than the abolition of llavery, this 
benefit alone would have been immenfe; 
the fuperiority gained by it over the reft of 
the world would have been incredible. 
And with what fhame and forrow muft we 
remark, that (he, who has been raifed fo 
high above her fellows, by the influence of 
this heaven-defcended liberty, at this day is, 
and, for more than two centuries paft, has 

* Though, ill many cafes, this was only changing one ty- 
rant for another ; yet the people favoured the meafure, becaufe 
they have constantly found an oppreflbr intolerable in the in- 
verfc ratio of his rank and extent of power. " A poor man, 
" oppreffing the poor," faith Solomon, " is like a fweeping 
" rain," he leaves no food. To give fecurity to the members 
of any ftate, the community mull be of that extent and 
power which will make it refpeftable among its neighbours j 
and its governors muft be removed fo far from the level of 
other citizens, that private intereft or refentment may not 
fenfibly influence their publick condud. But this can hardly 
ever be the cafe in fmall ftates. 

C been. 

24 On the Treatment anb 

been, flriving with all the venturous energ/ 
of a commercial fpirit, to eftablifli flavery 
in the new world -, in a region, where the 
curfe of flavery was unknown, till, through 
an infernal love of gold, Ihe introduced and 
fixed it? But when the Englifh, (for though 
the Portuguefe and Spaniards had tranfported 
Africans more early to their American fet- 
tlements; yet Hawkins, an Englilhman, is 
faid firfl to have given occafion for the pre- 
fent inhuman trade) a nation moft highly 
favoured of liberty, is viewed as taking the 
lead in this odious traffic, and as bending 
down the foul in utter darknefs, the more 
effeftually to enilave the body ; freedom 
muft blulh indignantly, while humanity 
mourns over the reproachful tale.* Would 


* It mull fill the reader with very ferlous refleftions, to 
be told, that, fince the year 1759, the Britilh African trade 
has been, in a great proportion, turned to the fupplying of 
the French iflands with flaves. This has given a moft rapid 
improvement to their fugar plantations ; and there is laid a 
foundation for fuch a naval force, as if not guarded againft in 
time may avenge humanity on our nation for this fhocking 
traffic, which it has carried on to a greater extent than all 
the reft of Europe, with peculiar circumftances of barbarity 
and cruelty 

Conversion of African Slaves. 35 

God we might indulge the hope, that 
the fame people, who firil riveted, might alfo 
firft cut afunder, the iron chain which dif- 
graces our nature and nation, in the weftern 
world; and that a people, who have rifqued 
their own exiilence, frequently, as a ftate, 
to keep one continental tyrant from ridding 
the world of another, might at laft have 
wifdom to render themfelves rich and pow- 
erful, by reftoring to liberty, and recover- 
ing to fociety and reafon, the exiled fons 
of Africa!* But 

* In the month of March 17S3> the following circumftances 
came out in the trial of a cafe of infurance at Guildhall. 
An ignorant mafter of a flave-fliip had overfhot his port, 
Jamaica, and v/as afraid of wanting water befoie he could 
beat up again to the ifland. He himfelf fell fick. In the 
coarfe of his illnefs, he ordered his mate, who was the 
man that gave the evidence, to throw overboard 46 Haves, 
hand-cuffed ; and he was readily obeyed- Two days after he 
ordered 36 more to be thrown after them, and after two days 
more another parcel of 40. Ten others, who had been per- 
mitted to take the air on deck, unfettered, jumped Into the 
fea indignantly after them. The fhip, after all, brought 

into port ^80 gallons of water. Can humanity imagine that 

it was meant, in any poflible circumftances, to fubmit the fate 
of fuch numbers of reafonable creatures to the reveries of 
a fick monfler ; or that his brutal inftrument fhould dare to 
boaft of his obedience, and even do it with impunity, in the 
higheft criminal court of the bell informed people of Europe ? 
The Incas of Peru conquered to polilh and improve. 
When they came to a brutifli people, who could not readily 

C 2 apprehend 

36 On the TreatiyIent and 

But before I conlider flaveryas it has been 
introduced and eiliablifhed by Europeans 
in the weftern world, I fhall lay before the 
reader a plan of that celebrated friend to 
liberty, Fletcher, of Saltoun, for reducing 

apprehend their inftrudtions. Let us turn, faid they, from thefc 
incorrigible animals, and feek out a people worthy of being 
our fcholars. The favages of America are fo wholly without 
the conception of the poffibility of one man's being fubmitted 
to the will of another, that they know no medium between 
roafting their prifoners, and adopting them into their families. 
The Europeans, fettled in the fame country, could traverfe 
the vaft Atlantic to traffic for, enflave, and fell, wretches 
unknown to them, who never injured them; nay, could 
keep working in iron chains their own unhappy countrymen 
fent among them : while they boaft of having vindicated 
for themfelves, as the natural inheritance of freedom, a total 
independence on all authority not originating from them- 
felves. Reafon, as found in praftice among men, is but a 
name, when feparated from intereft. — It is but juftice due to 
the Weil Indian proprietors to obferve that the planters of 
tobacco and rice, in America, in common, not only treated their 
African (laves and Englilh convifts, but even fober, honeft 
people, who, to pay for their paiTage from Europe, had been 
obliged to fell their fervice for five years, with full as much 
feverity as was praftifed only on Africans in thefugar iflands ; 
and, what was inexcufable, in a country where provifions coll 
labour only, even pinched them in their food. Indented fer- 
vants v/ere tied up, and lalhed cruelly on the moft trifling 
occafions. They were made to drag iron rings of ten or twelve 
pounds weight, hammered round their ancles, and fleep a» 
they could, with heavy iron chains and crooks round their 


Conversion of African Slaves. 37 

his country back into the ancient ftate of 
mafter and flave, in order to obviate fome 
temporary inconveniences imagined to arife 
from freedom. And as he does this with 
an appearance of reafoning, and, indeed, 
fuggefls things that would be exceedingly 
proper to be attended to, in the firfl dawn- 
ings of liberty; I fliall at once coniider his 
propofal, and add fuch obfervations as na- 
turally arife from it. 


Mafter and Slave, as propofed for Scotland, 
Anno 1698. 

Soon after the revolution, Scotland was af- 
flidted with four or five fucceffive unfruitful 
years, that, in its then improvident method 
of agriculture, reduced it to a flate of 
famine, which is ftill remembered under 
the name of the Dear Tears. Many^died of 
want, and thoufands, all over the country, 
were reduced to beggary; the Highlanders, 
efpecially, fuifered greatly, and came down 
and overfpread the low- lands; and, where 

C 3 they 

^8 On the Treatment and 

they did not fucceed by begging, made no 
fcruple to ileal and rob, to fupply their wants. 
In this lituation of things, when the poor 
Were numerous, few manufactures eilablifli- 
ed, and the fiiheries lay neglecfled, did 
Fletcher propofe his plan of ilavery, founds 
ing it on a ftatute enad:ed Anno 1579, which 
empowered any fubjed: of fufficient eftate 
to take the child of any beggar, and educate 
him for his own fervice, for a certain term 
of years, which term was extended Anno 
1597 for life. 

He obferves, that hiiliory makes no men^ 
tion of poor or beggars in ancient times, 
becaufe all the poor, bejng flaves, were main- 
tained by their own mafters. He fays, no 
modern ftate, except Holland, by the aid of 
its manufacSlures, has been able to employ 
or maintain its poor: that this new burthen 
has been brought on fociety by churchmen, 
who either by miftake or deiign have con- 
founded things fpiritual and temporal, and 
all good order, and good government, by re- 
commending it to mailers to fave their fouls, 
by fetting at liberty fuch of their flaves as 
fhould embrace the Chriflian faith; in con- 
tra4i<?;ion to our Saviour, who was far from 


Conversion of African Slaves. 39 

uling temporal advantages to enforce eternal 
truths; and to St. Paul, who, i Cor. vii. 
poiitively gives the preference to llavery. 
Hence we date hofpitals, alms-houfes, and 
contributions ; burdens, which we find fo 
heavy on the community, and fo inadequate 
to the purpofe. 

He ftates the common objediions urged 
againft llavery ^ that men are equal by nature^ 
that it is unjufl to fubmit the feelings and 
happinefs of the major part of a commu- 
nity, to the oppreffion and barbarity of the 
fewj and that the tyrant, who enllaves his 
country, has the fame plea for profecuting his 
ambitious views, that a rich man can offer 
for bringing his fellows into bondage to him. 

He anfwers thefe by diflinguifhing between 
political and domeftic flavery, affirming that 
the latter has been difgraced, by having been 
confounded vv'ith the other, which alone de- 
ferves the name of flavery, as being fub- 
mitted, not to law, which may regulate 
domeftic flavery, but to a jealous tyrant's 
caprice : that it is the interefl of every 
mafter to ufe his flaves well, in order that he 
may reap the full advantage of their labour: 
that occafional deviations from the fug- 

C 4 geftions 

40 On the Treatment and 

geftions of this prudence may be prevented 
by proper laws and regulations, and by the 
watchful care of a judge appointed for that 

He fhews the advantages Vi^hich would 
accompany this eftablifhment, by ftating 
what was the cafe in ancient times. The 
ancients had no poor caft loofe on the pub- 
lic. They could, without poiTeffing much 
other wealth, undertake, with their Haves, 
great public and private works: and this 
manner of employing their Haves and their 
wealth, preferved among them a fimplicity 
of manners, and living, not otherwife to 
be accounted for. Mailers knew nothing of 
the vexation of hired fervants, who, after 
having been educated at a great expence for 
a man's fervice, will leave him on the moil 
trilling occafion. Their Haves, in hopes 
of obtaining their liberty, had an emula- 
tion to pieafe; and their being able to pof- 
fefs nothing, took away that temptation to 
pilfer, fo commonly the propenfity of hired 
fervants, and, indeed, fometimes rendered 
neceflary for them to fupport their families. 

He propofeth that vagabonds, and fuch 
poor as cannot maintain themfelves, be pro-' 


Conversion of African Slaves. 41 

portioned out to men of a certain eftate, to 
bs employed in their grounds, that their 
children be brought up to fuch ufeful manu- 
fadiures as can be carried on at home; and 
that the public may not, in any cafe, lofe 
the benefit of their labour, they and their 
children Ihall be transferable for ever.* 


* Vagabond beggars are a nuifance which call loudly for 
redrefs, and which every well regulated fociety will exert 
itfelf to get rid of. Let every vagabond be confidered as the 
property of the public. Let a day be fixed, by proclama- 
tion, for apprehending them throughout the kingdom. Let 
their fervice be fold for feven years to fuch as have employ- 
ment for them. Let the money got for the ftrong be given 
with the weak. If, at the expiration of their flavery, they 
fhew a difpoiition to fettle, and can make a private bargain 
w ith any refponfible perfon, who will anfwer to the public 
for their behaviour, and will take them to work on the 
footing of free labourers, let them be difcharged. This 
will excite them to be honeft and faithful. Slavery, ex- 
cept for a crime that forfeits life, fhould not be for life, 
that it may not perpetuate flavery in their children. Every 
vagabond chiLl fliould be brought up to fome ufeful calling, 
and be free at thirty years of age. They all, when reftored 
to freedom, fhould be allowed a fettlement. 

A particular magiftrate fliould fuperintend their treatment, 
hear, and decide on their and their mafcers complaints. If at 
the termination of any period of flavery, they be found un- 
worthy of freedom, let them be fold anew. If purchafers 
do not offer, let them be divided by lot, and their children 
be apprentices. Coarfe, wholefome food fhould be allotted 
them, the kind and minimum being fixed by law^ 


42 On the Treatment anb 

He thinks the mailer fhould not have 
power over the life of his fervant, but fhould 
anfwer for it w^ith his own. He fhould not 
torture or mutilate him : if convicted of fuch 
ill treatment, he fhould free his flave, and 

If pariflies were obliged to improve their commons, there 
would be full employment for them ; and every thief, being 
£t& marked, fhould be added to the number. When reftored 
to freedom, they might have a cottage and garden given 
them, in full right, which they may prepare during 'he 
time of their fervitude. 

Such a ftate would be far beyond the condition of a vaga- 
bond, a wretch, that regards neither divine nor human laws, 
but wallows in every impurity and low vice. Thefe regula- 
tions, properly purfued for one generation, would annihilate 
the evil ; the very dread of being fold, and working at the 
will of another, would recover the greateft part of them to 
labour and fociety. But this remedy ffiould be flriftly con- 
fined to thieves and vagabonds, and only while they continued 

At prefent our poor laws are calculated to encourage lazinefs, 
by fupporting an idle man in as much plenty as him who- 
labours and gets his bread honeftly. When fick, the poor 
fhould be tenderly cared for; but when only idle they fhould 
have a fcanty coarfe fare, and clothes made up of patches, to 
make their fituation irkfome to them. Thofe that have large 
families fhould have every reafonable indulgence, and the 
burden of their children fhould be made eafy to them. All 
fmgle ftrollers fhould be flridlly dealt with. Wherever the 
indolence of thofe that are fupported by charity is fufpeftedj 
their pittance fhould not be given in money, but in food, from 
day to day ; and there fhould, as in, be rates of full, 
'ks.lf, and third allowance, 


Conversion of African Slaves. 43 

hx a penfion on him. The fervant's family 
fhould be provided for in clothes, diet, and 
lodging. His children fliould be infi;rud:ed in 
the principles of morality and religion, be 
taught to read, and be farnifhed with proper 
books. They fhall not v^ork on Sundays; 
but have liberty to go to church. In every 
circumftance, but that of not poiTeffing 
property, and their labour being diredled at 
the will of another, they fhall not be under 
the rule of their mafters, but the prote6lion 
of the law. When grown, by age, ufelefs 
to their mafters, they fhall be received into 
public hofpitals. If their mafter, on any 
account, make them free, he fliall either 
accommodate them with a penfion, or put 
them in a way of living, that v/ill keep them 
from becoming burdenfome to the public. 
To check the abufe of power in the mafter, 
a magiftrate ftiould be appointed to fee that 
juftice be done them. 

Now, however inadmiffible fuch a ftate 
of fervitude may be, in a country v/here li- 
berty is the eftablifhed birth-right of the 
loweft member of the community, yet, 
would heaven, that the flavery in our fugar 
colonies were only what is here propofed. 


44 On the Treatment and 

We muft then drop many of our objedions 
againfl it. Still the arguments againfl this 
degree of it are unanfwefable. 

He fuppofeth that a fenfe of intereft will 
prevent the abufe of power in the mailer. 
There cannot be a fairer deduction in theory, 
(which was all that he could have to go 
upon) nor is there one more falfe in fad:. 
Even fhould we afcribe the treatment which 
Africans meet with from their mailers, 
not wholly to an abufe of power, but, in 
fome meafure, alfo to a perfuaiion, whether 
it be true or falfe, that becaufe of 
their inferiority we are not obliged to treat 
them well -, how comes it that fober, in- 
dented, white fervants, are treated with 
equal, perhaps fuperior cruelty by their 
North American mailers; in confequence of 
which, not more than one in iive furvives 
even a temporary llavery of iive years, in a 
condition to fettle a habitation and family 
for himfelf ? Revenge for contradiction or 
faults in an inferior, whether real or ima- 
gined, will not allow the cooler aifed:ions 
of the mind to operate, but drives at once, 
like an eagle on its helpiefs prey, heedlefs 
how far the avenger himfelf may be involved 

in the mifchief. 


Conversion of African Slaves. 45 

Nor, though his magiftrate be an exceed- 
ing proper and neceffary check, would he, 
or could he, if ever fo impartial and watch- 
ful, be able to enfure good ufage to fervants, 
from the ignorant, the parfimonious, the 
luxurious, the extravagant, the capricious, 
the paffionate, the fpiteful mafter. In a 
thoufand ways may they be, and they daily 
are, tormented, which no law can provide 
againft, no care can poffibly remedy. 

His diltmdion between political and do- 
meflic flavery, except wherein they refpedt 
different objed:s, is imaginary and incon- 
cjufive> when applied to individuals; or 
whatever difference there is, will be found 
to conclude againft the latter. The great 
tyrant has not the opportunity of exerciling 
his lufc of opprefiion over individuals, ex- 
cept they {land oppofed to his power; and 
a quiet man may, in an extenfive country, 
pafs his time tolerably eafy and fecure under 
the moil arbitrary government. But the 
domeftic tyrant can teize and torment every 
wretch fubmittcd to his power, every mo- 
ment of their lives. They cannot eat or 
lleep, but when and how he pleafeth. Every 
feeling, every indulgence, is held at his 


46 On the Treatment Ann 

pleafure; and too often he feels a fpitefu! 
amufement, an infernal delight, in unnecef- 
farily imbittering their miferable cup, even 
at the expence of his own eafe and interefl. 
That the heavenly Preacher of peace and 
good v^ill towards men, fhould be fuppofed 
to have encouraged an unnatural ftate of 
fociety, which, in its very inftitution, muil: 
counteraft in the fuperior every benevolent 
inclination from man to man 3 and muil go 
far to fupprefs in the inferior every delire 
after that intelled:uai improvement, and 
heavenly happinefs, to point out the way 
to which was the very dtfign of his hu- 
miliation ; is fuch blafphemy againfl the 
divine goodnefs and condefceniion of his 
miffion, and is fo flatly contradicted by the 
whole tenor of his dodirine, as to be utterly 
unworthy of any anfwer. St. Paul again is 
prefTed into the fervice of ilavery, again ft 
the plain grammatical fenfe of the expref- 
lion in the original, and the whole fcope 
of his argument : of fo much more weight 
than truth is the driving of a favorite point. 
After generally remarking, that, notwith- 
flanding any fuppofed particular inconve- 
niences, political happinefs, by the exteniion 


Conversion of African Slaves. 47 

of freedom, has been extended far beyond 
what the v^armeft imagination could con- 
ceive; we may allow churchmen in the com- 
pany of their Mafter and his apoflle, to reft 
fatished with the blame of having been the 
means of abolifhing flavery; and may hope 
that this writer's authority, in this cafe, may 
fland them in fome ftead again ft that more 
general reproach caft on them of their be- 
ing the worfhippers of power in whatever 
hands it is found. 

By depriving a fervant of property, as he 
propofes, we know, that, in fa6t, you make 
him carelefs and defperate. The beft way of 
fecuring his fidelity and honefty, is to con- 
trive that he may have property to care for 
and fear the lofs of. If a Have has deferted 
the plantation, the moft effedtual way to 
bring him back is to give out, that you mean, 
if he does not return, by fuch a day, to pull 
his houfe down. He remarks that the Hi?h- 


landers of his days were favage thieves and 
beggars, becaufe fubje(5t to their chieftains; 
and would not his eftabliftiment of the like 
fubjedlion in the civilized low-lands, in time, 
produce the like eifed:s? A Chriftian would 
refolve the filence concerning the poor in 


48 On the Treatment and 

the heathen world, to their not being deemed 
an objedl either of hiftory or philofophy; 
or to that common tie between man and 
man, which revelation inculcates, not be- 
ing then acknowledged, to make the relief 
of their diflrefs a matter of duty or merit. 

But if no poor were then fupported by 
private benevolence, was no mifery therefore 
felt? What were the early feditions at Rome, 
but ftruggles between wealth and poverty, 
till war and diftant conquefl: had enriched or 
drawn off the oppreffed flarving multitude ? 
Indeed, ^^here was there room left for public 
beggars, when the poor were Haves, and had 
only their own mafter to whom to cry for 
help ? Yet the elder Cato turned out fome 
beggars on the public, in a manner not 
greatly to his credit. Among the Jews, the 
rigours of flavery were foftened by religion; 
and there the poor, from the firll, were an 
object of law. Their law-givers informed 
them, that in their moil fiourifhing flate, 
there fliould be always poor among them, 
whom they were to confider as the Lord's 
penlioners, who were in his name to receive, 
from their wealthy neighbours, that tribute of 
grateful thanks which his goodnefs claimed 



from them. And, doubtlefs, had this duty 
been propofed, from the like motives, in 
other ftates, proper objects of it would not 
have been found wanting, 

A better reafon to be given for the fim- 
plicity of the ancient maimer of living may 
be found in the little communication which 
there was between different countries for the 
purpofe of exchanging modes and iaperflu- 
ities. Thofe who live now on the produce 
of their own grounds, live as uniformly, 
and fmiply as the ancients did. But was the 
Roman mode fimple after the conqueft of 
Afia? He mentions the public works of the 
ancients. Do we know thofe of any ftate 
that in grandeur or utility may be compared 
to the floating fortrefles of Britain, which 
carry the arms and power of the flate around 
the world ? 

Why the public fhould build hofpitals to 
receive flaves, worn down in the fervice of 
private perfons, he gives not a reafon; nor 
is any obvious. If the ancients were not 
troubled with the refllefs ingratitude and 
pilfering habits of hired fervants, did they feel 
no inconveniency from the fullen intrad:able 
difpofition of flaves, whom they could not 

D get 


On the Treatment and 

get rid of? Or, if the deiire of freedom ex- 
cited the emulation of a flave, would it not 
make him alfo feel the immediate hardlhips 
of flavery ? would he not, with defpair, look 
around him, and view many Haves transfer- 
red from one mafter to another; often from 
good to bad, without acquiring that liberty 
which they had endeavoured to deferve by 
their fidelity ? and would he not anticipate 
the like fate, and lofe all defire of exertion ? 
Is not this indeed the general cafe, at this 
day, in the fugar colonies ? 

Fletcher fuppofes that neceffity will drive 
his country into the meafure of flavery. It 
is near a century fince he hazarded this opi- 
nion ; and infiiead thereof, by the abolifh- 
ing of jurifdid:ions, more liberty, and 
greater privileges have been communicated 
to it: and the confequence has been a more 
general extenfion of political happinefs, and 
private conveniency. Had his plan taken 
place, would fo many towns have arifen, or 
been enlarged in various parts of the country? 
Should we have heard of the manufactures 
at Paifly ? Could Glafgow have been able to 
have endured a lofs (even fuppofing it only 
temporary) of perhaps a million of money, 
by American independency, almoft with- 

Conversion of African Slaves. 51 

out once complaining? Would a few over* 
grown landlords have allowed the Bri- 
tiih army and navy to have been filled up 
and recruited out of their gangs of Haves, 
by the many ten thoufands of Scotchmen, 
that in every war, fmce his time, have bled 
fometimes for the rights of the empire, 
fometimes to quiet the popular alarms, about 
that bugbear, the balance of power ? Would 
oppreiTed, half flarved Haves have made fuch 
hardy foldiers ; or, like them, endured, 
without complaint, every various oppofite 
climate, in carrying on the public fervice? 
It is true Scotland ftill labours under dif- 
advantages. The tenant is not fufficiently 
fecured againft the extortion of the landlord. 
But what would be gained by reducing a 
great proportion of thefe tenant-s and their 
pofterity into the condition of ilaves ? Would 
they be allowed to live plentifully, when their 
lords wanted to parade it at court ? Or are 
luxury and extravagance to be fatisfied, while 
gny thing within their reach remains to be 
devoured ? If flavery had been ellabliilied on 
his plan, would not power and intrigue have 
been ufed, to draw v/ithin its circle as many 
as poffible, till mailer and flave had abforbed 

D 2 every 

52 On the Treatment and 

every other rank ? No, let lazinefs and vice 
be effediually reftrained, even by retraining 
that liberty and privileges v/hich they juftly 
forfeit. But fet not one man paramount 
over another. Let their country and its laws 
remain mafters of their fate. 


Mailer and Slave in the French Colonies. 

In the French colonies, the public pays an 
immediate attention to the treatment and 
inftrud:ion of Haves. The intendants are 
charged v^ith their protedlion, proper mif- 
iionaries are appointed for thepurpofe of train- 
ing them up to a certain degree of religious 
Jcnovi^ledge ; and ample eilates or funds are 
allotted for the maintenance of thofe eccle- 
liaftics. The negroes, as foon as introduced 
into the colony, are put under the care of 
thefe laft. The mailer is obliged to acquaint 
the governor or intendant, within eight days, 
of every African Have whom he has pur- 
chafed, that a millionary may be afligned to 
inllrudt him. All the fafls and fellivals of the 


Conversion of African Slaves. 53 

Romifli church, which it is well known arc 
very numerous, are commanded to be ilriAly 
obferved, during which the flave is forbid- 
den to labour, that he may have leifure to 
attend mafs. 

Everv flave has a claim to a certain allow- 
ance of food and clothing, which is not 
to be diminiftied by their mailers, under 
pretence of having given him time to work 
for himfelf. The power of the mailer is 
reflrained to the whip and chains he may 
not wound or mutilate his. flave. On ill 
treatment received from his mailer, or on 
being deprived of his allowance of food and 
raiment, the flave is dire(fted to apply to the 
King's attorney, who is obliged to profecute 
the mailer forthwith. This oificer is alfo 
bound to profecute, if by any other means 
he hears of the abufe. This reafon is added 
in the law, ** This we will to be obferved, 
** to check the abufe of power in the mailer," 
If a flave rendered unferviceable, through 
age, hurts, or difeafe, be turned adrift by 
his mailer, he is to be placed in the public 
hofpital, and to be maintained there at the 
expence of his mailer. Thefe are fomc of the 
regulations eilabliihed by the Code Noir, 
to check the exorbitancy of mailers ji an in- 

D 3 ilance 

54 On the Treatment and 

ftance of attention and benevolence in the 
French government, that may v^ell put Bri- 
tifh^ negligence to fhame. 

The refpefl: in which marriage is held, 
"brings a farther advantage to French ilaves. 
The ceremony is folemnized by the prieft, 
and the tie continues for life. This gives 
them an attachment to their little families, 
and a concern for their intereft, and of con- 
fequence a care over them, and their own 
behaviour, that is feldom feen among 
Englifh flaves ; where the connexion between 
the fexes is arbitrary, and too frequently 
cafualj where a male Have reckons it apiece 
of ftate to multiply his wives, and change 
thematpleafure, without looking beyond the 
prefent gratification, or conlidering how his 
condufl may affed: the fate of his offspring. 
Care is alfo taken in the French iilands to 
marry them young, in the fame plantation ; 
and if they perceive a particular attachment 
between two young people, belonging to 
different mailers, it is common to refign or 
exchange them, that they may both have the 
fame owner, and that marriage may have its 
full effedl on their condud,* 


* A gentleman of Guadaloupe, Monlieur S-eguer, informed 
jne, that, with fome pains, he had brought it about to have 

' all 

Conversion OF African.Slaves. 55 

The French Haves reap a confiderable ad- 
vantage from the prefence of their ov^ners. 
One caufe of this is, that, in the colonies, 
they enjoy more liberty, and pay fewer taxes 
than in France/* An Englifh planter, if 


all his flaves married within his own plantations ; and that 
by making them all people of property, in allowing to each 
his bit of land, with a hog, a goat, and fome poultry, and 
by fome extraordinary pains ufed to inftruft them, he had 
brought them to a degree of healthinefs, good fenfe, trafta- 
bility, and happinefs uncommon among his neighbours. And 
I fhall here remark, generally, that nothing has a happier 
eiFe£l in reforming or improving a Have, than the giving him 
fomething of his own to care for, and fear the lofs of. 

* The French governors have liberal appointments from 
the crown to fet them above the neceihty, and to take away 
the temptation of oppreffing their people by extraordinary 
fees from them in the manner of our Weft Indian governors, 
who, to the difgrace of the government that appointed them, 
are forced to colleft their maintenance in perquifites from thofe 
who have bufmefs with them. The Britifh colonies are alfo 
made the property of patent officers, the profit of whofe 
places confifts wholly in perquifites, and is in general farmed 
from the principals in England by two or three fubftitutes in 
fucceffion, till the immediate pofTefTor be obliged, in his own 
defence, to commit afts of oppreffion, to make up his 
rent. And fuch is the corrupt influence at our court of thefe 
fine cure patentees, as to have procured a Itanding inftruftion 
to governors to oppofe and render null every attempt made 
by provincial afiemblies to regulate their fees of office, or 
^heck their extortion. Thus the government of the mother 

D 4 country 

56 , ©N THE Treatment and 

out of debt, or a cafual crop be plentiful, 
muft run away to England, v/hich he calls 
his home, where generally loft to every ufe- 
ful purpofe in life, he vies with the nobi- 
lity in entertainments, extravagance, and ex- 
pence, while his attorney, and manager, are 
obliged to over-work, and pinch, his poor 
flaves, to keep up, or increafe the ufual re- 
mittances. It would make indignation her- 
felf almoft fmile to hear their piteous com- 
plaining letters to their agents read, when 
the neceffities of the plantation have occa- 
fioned a fmall draught to be made on them. 
And often the manager, whom the caprice, 
or felfiih, or family views of an attorney 

country is deprived of the affiftance of men of charafler and 
fubftance in public offices, to fupport its influence in the 
colonies ; while thefe have impofed'on them a moft humiliating 
and burdenfome badge of flavery, and have all their interefts, 
and all improvements of their police facrificed to the felfifh 
views of men whom they never faw. It has alfo been ufual 
of late years to permit the cuftom.houfe officers to hold their 
places ihy deputies, doubtlefs, to the great improvement of 
the revenue. The intercourfe between our Weft Indian colo- 
nies is by fmall veffels Carrying ^^40 or jT ^o freight. The 
cuftom-houfes force full one half of this fum out of them, 
under the name of (not taxes but) fees. The confequence 
is, that when provifiofts or ftores are unloaded in one ifland, 
they cannot, but in extreme neceffity, be reihipped for another 


Conversion of African Slaves, t^j 

can, without warning, difplace, looks not for- 
ward to the confequences of ill treatment of 
flaves, while trying to recommend himfelf by 
a forced exertion of their ftrength, in hopes 
that its pernicious effedts may poffibly not 
appear in his time.* If the Engliili owner 
lives on his plantation, he is too often fo in- 
volved in debt, the eifedts of his predecef- 
for's, or his own former extravagance, or of 
injudicious purchafes, that he can fpare little 
from the preffing demands of his creditors, 
to allot for the eafe, and well-being of Haves, 
or indeed for any neceifary improvement of 
his property. The French, as they gene- 
rally live each on his own plantation, fo 
they are happy in not having the credit, or 
opportunity which the Engliih have of run- 
ning in debt.-f* All their improvements muft 

* Hence a planter always knows the ftate of his affairs beft, 
&t the change of managers ; it generally requiring many 
hundreds, fometimes thoufands of pounds, to fet matters 
agoing under the new dire£lor ; an expence that might be 
faved by ufmg a lefs parcimonious method in the ordinary 
management of the plantation. 

-}■ The whole debt owing by the Mardnico planters about 
the year 1773 waseltimated nearly at 200,000!. fterling. St, 
Chriftopher's, which, in proportion to its extent, is our richeft 
colony, and maybe in value about one-third of the importance 
of Martinico, though divided among fewer than 120 pro- 
prietors, could not owe lefs at that time than 720,000!, 


58 On the Treatment and 

arife out of their induftry. They are there- 
fore more gradual, and better founded, than 
in our colonies, where it has been only ne- 
ceiTary to "deliver into a merchant an exag- 
gerated, pompous account of the richnefs of 
the plantation on which the money is to be 
raifed, to procure liberty for drawing on 
him for thoufands after thoufands. For- 
merly induflry, in a courfe of years, raifed 
immenfe fortunes in the Weil Indies^ few 
have been raifed lince loans became frequent 
in England. Borrowed money, fcldom^ 
one may fay hardly ever, has fucceeded^ 
when in any confiderable proportion to the 
property mortgaged for it. Let others ex- 
plain the caufe, I content myfelf with re- 
cording the fad:. Thus French planters, not 
having intereft money to provide, nor the 
ambition of retiring to Europe, to Simulate 
them in accumulating money, are not under 
the neceffity of forcing their flaves beyond 
their ftrength, in carrying on their planta- 
tions to that exquifite degree of culture, 
that is common in our colonies, and which 
is eifed:ed, not fo much by contrivance and 
method, or by increaling with proper care 
and nourifhment the aaimal powers of their 

Haves « 

Conversion of African Slaves. 59 

/laves, as by obliging them to extraordinary 
efforts, that foon wear them out ; and which, 
inftead of allowing them to increafe in the 
courfe of nature, make conftant demands on 
the Have market, to enable them tofupport the 
character of the plantation. Far from plant- 
ing, as we do, every rood of land that they 
poffefs, in fugar cane, and depending on 
foreign fupplies for food, the French try to 
live as much as poffible within themfelves. 
A conliderable proportion of land is fct apart 
for provifions. A late edid: has reftrided the 
minimum to one acre in ten. Farther, the 
French plantation . Haves are attached to the 
foil, and cannot be drawn off to pay debts, 
or be fold feparate from it. This gives them 
a lafting property in their huts, and little 
fpots of ground. They may fafely cultivate 
them, and not, as in the Britiih colonies, 
fear their being turned out of poffeflion, or 
transferred from one proprietor to another, 
without regard had to their interefl: or feel- 
ings. From thefe pircumftances, and from 
their manners being more communicative, 
the French, in the colonies, live more in a 
family way among their Haves, than our 
planters j they become more fenfible of their 


6o On the Treatment and 

wants and abilities; they naturally contract 
a regard and an affecflion for them; the flaves 
are not hurried in their work, and enjoy a 
greater plenty, and variety of wholefome 
food, than when their allowance of mufty 
flour, or weavily maize from America, is dealt 
out to them from a fcanty, bruifed tin or 
pewter meafure, by an unfeeling overfeer; 
who perhaps recommends himfelf to his 
abfent employer by the number of ihares 
into which he has divided the wretched 

* Though the French government has cared thus humanely 
for flaves, though the manners and circumftances of the 
French planters peculiarly favour their good treatment; yet, 
fmce the temper of the mailer mull ilill have great influence 
on the condition of the flave, this will not prevent, nor can 
we wonder, when we find, among the French, particular atls 
oppreflive, and particular owners cruel. But in a vigorous 
government, fuch as is that of France, thefe afts cannot be 
frequent, nor thefe men numerous. On the other hand, we 
mull acknowledge, that the free principles of our cQnllitutior)i 
counteraft many of the ill effedls of our fcandalous negled of 
the police of our colonies j and that the tyrannical nature of 
the French government prevents the French from reaping the 
fuir effe£ls of this their benevolent attention to the claims of 
humanity. Had we governors and other officers as difmterelled 
as the French, and afting under the like benevolent inftruc- 
tions, the difterence would be highly in our favour ; and had 
the French governors the fame principles to guide them as 
we have, the French colonilts would enjoy a great acceflion 
pf political happinefs. 


Conversion of AfHican Slaves. 6t 

Now the obfervation is, that the French 
Haves are more decently drelTed, are more 
orderly, fenfible, and ten times more honefl 
than Englilh fiaves. They ufe private prayer. 
The field negroes begin and leave off work 
with prayer; the black overfeer officiating 
as priefl:. This cuflom of having field pray- 
ers has been found fo encouraging and ufe- 
ful, that many of the Englifh planters ia 
Grenada, on their becoming owners of 
French ilaves, kept it up on their planta- 
tions; yet fome of thefe would have mocked 
and fneered at the pradice, if propofed in 
their own illands. In the French colonies 
even in their towns, there is hardly occafion 
for a lock to fecure goods, or fiore-houfes. 
In our colonies, no door, or lock, is a 
fufficient fecurity for any thing which a flave 
can carry away. In Grenada, they have long 
bitterly complained, that fince Englifh fiaves 
came among them, they can keep nothing 
fafe from being purloined, and that even the 
honefty of their own old flaves has been 
greatly debauched. 


62 On the Treatment an0 

Mailer and Slave in the Britifh Colonies. 

To purfue the preceding obfervations, 
which candour obliged us to make in favour 
of our rivals, we muil acknowledge, that an 
Engliih Have has nothing to check him in 
ill doing, but the fears of the whip, and 
that is a weak reftraint on a flarving, craving 
appetite. The French flave is placed above 
the folicitations of hunger j and refpediing 
his behaviour, has, to the dread of pain, 
fuperadded, as a guide, the hopes and fears 
of religion, and the approbation and dif- 
pleafure of his prieft. The French, in the 
treatment of their Haves, regard the fug- 
geftions of humanity, and enforce its didlates 
by their laws. The Englilli have not paid 
the leall attention to enforce by a law,, 
either humanity or jufliice, as thefe may 
refped: their flaves. Many are the refcridlions, 
and fevere are the punifhments, to which 
our ilaves are fubjefted. But if you except a 
law, that Governor Leake got enadied in 
Nevis, to diflinguifh petty larceny in Ilaves 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 63 

from felony; and a law in Grenada and 
Jamaica, that obligeth mailers to allot to 
their Haves a certain portion of land for the 
growth of provifions; and one in this lafl 
ifland, that grants them Saturday afternoon 
for the culture of it; I recoiled: not a iingle 
claufe in all our colony ads, (and I perufed 
the feveral codes with the view of remarking 
fuch) enaded to fecure to them the leall 
humane treatment, or to fave them from the 
capricious cruelty of an ignorant, unprin- 
cipled mafter, oramorofe, unfeeling, overfeer^ 
Nay a horfe, a cow, or a fheep, is much 
better protected with us by the lav/, than a 
poor flave. For thefe, if found in a trefpafs, 
are not to be injured, but fecured for their 
owners; while a half ftarved negroe, may, 
for breaking a fingle cane, which probably he 
himfelf has planted, be hacked to pieces 
with a cutlafs ; even though, perhaps, he be 
incapable of reiiflance, or of running away 
from the watchman, who finds him in the 
fad. Nay, we have men among us, who 
dare boaffc of their giving orders to their 
watchmen, not to bring home any Have that 
they find breaking of canes, but, as they 
call it, to hide . them, that is to kill, and 


$4- On the Treatment and 

bury them. And, accordingly, every now« 
and-then, fome poor wretch is milTed, and 
feme lacerated carcafe is difcovered. 

Our countrymen are left, each to be guided 
by his own changeable temper, and to be in- 
fluenced by a femblance of felf-intereilj nor 
have they any tie on them, in their behaviour 
to the wretches under them, but this intereft, 
often ill underftood; in fome perhaps there 
maybe a defire after a reputation for humanity, 
too frequently little guided by fentiment; in a 
few benevolence dired:edbyconfcience. Slaves 
are efteemed among us the in tire property of 
their mailers, and as having, diftind: from 
him, no right or interefh of their own. 
And our conflitution has fuch an exceffive 
bias to perfonal liberty, that in contradic- 
tion to the maxims of every well ordered 
ftate, it cannot, or will not, meddle with 
private behaviour. Hence that want of 
energy, vigour, and even propriety in every 
department of our police. Many adlions 
pafs daily unnoticed among us, that would 
have degraded the higheft fenator of Rome 
into one of the loweft tribes. Society pro- 
fefles to diredt the actions of individuals to 
the greatell public good; a purpofe to which 


Conversion op African Slaves. 6^ 

all private interefl and gratification (hould 
conftantly be made to give place. Hence 
the true fecret of police, after having fecured 
the lives, liberties, and properties of the 
citizens, is to turn the condud: and induftry 
of individuals to public profit, confidering 
the flate as one whole, and leaving private 
perfons, each to find his own particular hap- 
pinefs in public profperity, checking every 
appearance of a wayward difpofition, that 
may make the man injurious to his neighbour, 
or unprofitable to his country. What a field 
do the Britiili territories offer for fuch a plan 
of police ? 

Indeed, with this view before us, our boafi:- 
ed conflitution prefents only an uncultivated 
wild. How much remains undone in the 
various departments of commerce, of rural 
economy, roads, rivers, commons, govern- 
ment of towns, perfection of flaple commo- 
dities, exclufive privileges, and the like ? In 
the cafe of which we treat, the conftitution 
lays no claim to the Have, but confines its 
attention to the intercourfe of freemen, leav- 
ing citizens at liberty, as mailers, to difpofe 
of, and treat their Haves, with the fame in- 

E difference. 

66 On the Treatment and 

diiFerence, if they pleafe, with the fame un- 
feeling wantonnefs, which without con- 
troul they may exercife on their cat- 

While we refledt on the ftate of flavery in 
our colonies, among the freefl: people in the 
world, and extend our views to the like 
inftances in hiilory, it becomes a mournful, 
an humiliating conlideration in human na- 
ture, to find that thofe men and nations, 
whom liberty hath exalted, and who, there- 
fore, ought to regard it tenderly in others, 
are conftantly for reftraining its bleffings 
within their own little circle, and delight 
more in augmenting the train of their de- 
pendents, than in adding to the rank of 
fellow citizens, or in diffuiing the benefits 
of freedom among their neighbours. Every 
where, in every age, the chain of flavery 
has been failiioned, and applied by the hand 
of liberty. Every ancient, every mo- 
dern flate gives fliameful evidence of the 
truth, from the mock manumiffion of the 
Greeks, by the Roman Flaminius, to the op- 
prefTed ftate of the Dutch barrier, and 
their laft Indian fettlements, begun while 


Conversion of African Slaves, dj 

they themfelves were ftruggling for free- 

It will perhaps be alledged, that this in- 
conliderate treatment of flaves in our colo- 
nies may, as is generally fuppofed in Bri- 
tain, be the effedl of the illiberal turn of 
the colonifts, accuftomed from their infancy to 
trifle with the feelings, and fmile at the mi- 
feries, of wretches born to be the drudges 
of their avarice, and flaves of their caprice. 
But it is to be remarked, that adventurers 
from Europe are univerfally more cruel and 
morofe towards flaves, than Creoles, or native 
Wefl:-Indians. Indeed, whatever I fhall 
have to fay of the condu(5t of individuals to- 

* The Athenians never admitted ftrangers to the privilege 
of citizenfhip ; Hercules, and one or two more, being the only 
foreigners indulged with it. This accounts for the fhort period 
of their once fplendid maritime empire. It is true the Ro- 
mans fucceffively admitted their neighbours, according to their 
vicinity, to the privilege of citizens ; but they afted from no 
generous principle. They increafed the number of tyrants, 
in proportion as their conquefts added new flaves to be kept in 
fubjedion by them. Of this the fecial war is an undoubted 
proof. Yet this conduft, though fpringiug from unworthy 
motives, was followed with the befl effeds, and gave liability 
50 a ftate, that conqueft otherwife might have ruined. 

E 2 wards 

68 On the Treatment and 

wards flaves, and the inattention of mafters to- 
wards their claims, may be applied with more 
juftice to the new fettlers, than to the natives. 
Often attachment will fecure from thefe laft 
good ufage, while the flave has no hold on 
the others ; nay, probably is degraded by 
over-weening European pride, into a ftate 
differing but in name from brutal, by a 
treatment lefs generous, lefs confiderate, 
than a horfe or an ox receives from them. 
Oppreffion makes the wretches ftupid, and 
their ftupidity becomes their crime, and 
provokes their farther punifhment. In par- 
ticular, in the colony from which the fol- 
lowing obfervations are chiefly drawn, fo 
great is the proportion of Europeans in all 
its aftive flations, that the charadler of the 
community mufl be taken from them, not 
from the natives. And when one confiders 
how thefe adventurers are ufually collccfled, 
how often the refufe of each man's connec- 
tions, of every trade, and every profefHon, 
are thronged in upon them, much fenti- 
ment, morality, or religion, cannot well be 
expeded to be founfi within the circle of 
their influence. This muil ferve as an apo- 

Conversion OF African Slaves. 69 

logy for any thing feemingly fevere, that 
may appear in the profecution of the fub- 
jecft; to which we now return.* 

The difcipline of a fugar plantation is as 
exad: as that of a regiment : at four o'clock 
in the morning the plantation bell rings to 
call the Haves into the field. Their work 
is to manure, dig, and hoe, plow the ground, 
to plant, weed, and cut the cane, to bring 
it to the mill, to have the juice expreifed, 
and boiled into fugar. About nine o'clock, 
they have half an hour for breakfaft, which 
they take in the field. Again they fall to 
work, and, according to the cuftom of the 
plantation, continue until eleven o'clock, or 
noon ', the bell then rings, and the Haves are 
difperfed in the neighbourhood, to pick up 
about the fences, in the mountains, and fal- 

* We muft not confound every European fettler In 
the above cenfure ; fentiment, and benevolence, refined 
by education, influence feveral fuch within the author's 
acquaintance. Indeed, whatever there is generally amifs in 
the conduft of mailers to their flaves, arifes not fo much from 
any particular depravity in them as men, as from the arbitrary 
unnatural relation that exifts between them and their wretch- 
ed dependents ; the efFedls of which, neither fentiment nor mo- 
rality can at all times prevent, 

E 7 low 

JO On the Treatment and 

low or wafte grounds, natural grafs and 
weeds for the horfes and cattle. The time 
allotted for this branch of work, and prepa- 
ration of dinner, varies from an hour and an 
half, to near three hours. In collecting pile 
by pile their little bundles of grafs, the Haves 
of low land plantations, frequently burnt up 
by the fun, muft wander in their neigh- 
bours grounds, perhaps more than two miles 
from home. In their return, often fome 
lazy fellow, of the intermediate plantation, 
with the view of faving himfelf the trouble 
of picking his own grafs, feizes on them, 
and pretends to infifl on carrying them to 
his mafter, for picking grafs, or being found 
in his grounds -, a crime that forfeits the 
bundle, and fubjedls the offender to twenty 
lafhes of a long cart whip, of twifted lea- 
thern thongs. The wretch, rather than be 
carried to judgment in another man's plan- 
tation, is fain to efcape with the lofs of his 
bundle, and often to put up quietly with a 
good drubbing from the robber into the 
bargain. The hour of delivering in his 
grafs, and renewing his tallc, approaches, 
while hunger importunately folicits him to 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 71 

remember its call; but he muft renew the 
irkfome toil, and fearch out fame green, 
fliady, unfrequented fpot, from which to 
repair his lofs. 

At one, or in fome plantations,^ at two 
o'clock, the bell fummons them to deliver 
in the tale of their grafs, and alTemble to 
their field work. If the overfeer thinks their 
bundles too fmall, or if they come too late 
with them, they are punifhed with a num- 
ber of ftripes from four to ten. Some maf- 
ters, under a fit of carefulnefs for their cattle, 
have gone as far as fifty ftripes, which effec- 
tually difable the culprit for weeks. If a 
Have has no grafs to deliver in, he keeps away 
out of fear, fkulks about in the mountains, 
and is abfent from his work often for 
months ; an aggravation of his crime, which, 
when he is caught, he is made to remember. 

About half an hour before fun fet, they 
may be found fcattered again over the land, 
lixke the Ifraelites in Egypt, to cull, blade 
by blade, from among the weeds, their fcanty 
parcels of grafs. About feven o'clock in the 
evening, or later, according to the feafon of 
the year, when the overfeer can find leifure, 
E 4 they 

72 On the Treatment and 

they are called over by lift, to deliver in 
their fecond bundles of grafs ; and the fame 
punifhment, as at noon, is inflid:ed on the 
delinquents. They then feparate, to pickup, 
in their way to their huts, (if they have not 
done it, as they generally do, while gathering 
grafs) a little brufh wood, or dry cow-dung, 
to prepare fome fimple mefs for fupper, and 
to-morrow's breakfaft. This employs them 
till near midnight, and then they go to lleep, 
till the bell calls them in the morning. 

This picking of grafs, as it is fitly called, 
often in a fevere drought, when it is to be 
found only in the receftes of the mountain, 
thus thruft in by the by into the hour of 
wearinefs and reft, is the greateft hardship 
that a flave endures, and the moft frequent 
caufe of his running away, or abfenting him- 
felf from his work -, which not only fubjecfls 
him to frequent puniftiment, but ad:ually 
renders him unprofitable, worthlefs, and de- 
ferving of puniftiment. He can neither re- 
frefti, or indulge his wearied body. He is 
fubjedted by it to injury. He is placed in 
the jaws of trefpafs, and unavoidably made 
obnoxious to oppreftion, and ftripes. And 


Conversion of African Slaves. 73 

yet a few acres of land, in proportion to the 
extent of the plantation, allotted for artifi- 
cial grafs, and a few weakly llaves feparated 
from the work, would take away the necef- 
iity of providing for cattle in this harraffing 
fcanty manner. 

This grafs, except fuch part of it as is re- 
ferved for the ftable horfes, procured by fo 
much toil, and forced out of the Have by 
fuch repeated puniiliment, under pretence 
of feeding the cattle and mules, is fpread 
abroad under their feet, on a fermenting 
inclofed dung heap, called a pen. There 
a very confiderable part is loft to every pur- 
pofe of nourifhment, by being trampled un- 
der the beafts feet i where mixing with dung 
and urine, it ferments, corrupts, and with 
its fuffocating fteams in that fultry climate, 
inftcad of fupplying them with vigour, fills 
them with difeafe ; as if Providence meant 
to revenge the oppreffion of the Have, in 
being forced to drudge thus for it, by in- 
fpiring the mafter with a fpirit of abfurdity, 
in his manner of uiing it.* 


• Thie pen is an inclofure, perhaps of fixty by eighty feet, 
|n which, from thirty to fifty cattle and mules are kept and 


74 On the Treatment and 

The work here mentioned, is conlidered 
as the field duty of flaves, that may be infilled 
on without reproach to the manager, of un- 
ufual feverity, and which the white and black 
€)verfeers ftand over them to fee executed j 
the tranfgreffion againll which, is quickly 
followed with the fmart of the cart whip. 
This inftrument, in the hands of a Ikilful 
driver, cuts out flakes of ikin and flefli with 
every ftroke ; and the wretch, in this mang- 

fed. The decayed leaves, and ofFals of the fugar cane, are 
from time to time thrown in for litter. Their provender is 
fpread over it, and being mixed with urine, dung, and rain, 
becomes a fermenting mafs, which is emptied once, and in 
fome plantations, twice a year. The difeafe generally fatal to 
mules, feems to be of the nature of a putrid infedious fever, 
which, if it does not arrive from, is at leaft heightened by, this 
abfurd manner of feeding. The cattle being often flaked out 
in the fallow grounds, are not fo conftantly expofed to thefe 
noxious fleams. 

Though a planter will readily pay 30I. fterling for a good mule, 
or a bull, and though chiefly from this fcanty abfurd method 
of feeding them, he be obliged to renew his expence from year 
to year; yet will he not allow a few acres for artificial grafs, nor 
even a ftall, a manger, or a clean fpot, to fave their fmall pit- 
tance of provender from filth, or to feed them apart from the 
foul exhalations of a dung heap, in its moft unwholefome flate. 
There have been inflances of pens burfling out into a fmoul- 
dering flame, while the cattle were feeding on them, 

* led 

Conversion of African Slaves. 75 

led condition, is turned out to work in dry 
or wet weather, which laft, now and then, 
brings on the cramp, and ends his fuiFerings 
and flavery together. 

In crop- time, which may be when reck- 
oned altogether on a plantation, from five to 
fix months ; the cane tops, by fupplying the 
cattle with food, gives the flaves fome little 
relaxation in picking grafs. But fome pre- 
tendedly induftrious planters, men of much 
buftle, and no method, will, efpecially in 
moon-light, keep their people till ten o'clock 
at night, carrying wowra, the decayed leaves 
of the cane, to boil off the cane juice. A 
coniiderable number of Haves is kept to at- 
tend in turn the mill and boiling houfe 
all night. They ileep over their work ; the 
fugar is ill tempered, burnt in the boiler, 
and improperly ilruck ; while the mill every 
now-and-then grinds off an hand, or an arm, 
of thofe drowfy worn dov/n creatures that 
feed it. Still the procefs of making fugar 
is carried on in many plantations, for months, 
without any other interruption, than during 
fome part of day light on Sundays. In fome 


76 On the Treatment and 

plantations it is the cuftom, during crop- 
time, to keep the whole gang employed as 
above, from morning to night, and alter- 
nately one half throughout the night, tofup- 
ply the mill with canes, and the boiling 
houfe with wowra. 

This labour is more or lefs moderated, in 
proportion to the method and good fenfe of 
the manager. In fome plantations the young 
children and worn out Daves are fet apart 
to pick grafs, and bring cane tops from the 
iield for the cattle, and do no other work. 
Sometimes the field gangs bring both their 
bundles of grafs at once, being allowed for 
that purpofe a little extra time, during the 
meridian heat ; which faves them an unne- 
cefTary repetition of wandering in the even- 
ing three or four miles to fearch for it, and 
enables the manager to employ the cool part 
of the afternoon in the common labour of 
the plantation. Sometimes they are dif- 
miiled for grafs before the ufual hour -, or if 
they be hoe-ploughing land, frequently none 
is required from them. In fome plantations, 
they are not punifhed for coming late into 
the field, if they appear there about fun-rife. 


Conversion of African Slaves. 77 

In moil well-ordered plantations, they leave 
off grinding and boiling before midnight, 
and begin not again till about dawn : it 
having been found, that the quantity of 
fugar made in the night, is not in propor- 
tion to the time; that it not only fuffers 
in quality, but alfo lies open to pilferage ; 
and that the mules, particularly the moil 
tradlable, andeafily harneffed, are injured by 
being worked indifcriminately, in the dark, 
out of their turn; another valuable confe- 
quence, this of their being confufedly 
huddled together in that inclofed dung-heap, 
the pen : for the danger of grinding off a 
drowfy negroe's arm, or harraffmg him to 
death, is a conlideration which without thefe 
other circumflances, would hardly inter- 
rupt the grand work of fugar-making. 

Every plantation contains little fkirts, and 
portions of broken land, unfit for the cul- 
tivation of fugar. Thefe are ufually divided 
among the flaves for the growth of provifions; 
but where the mailer is inattentive, a few 
of the principal negroes often feize on, 
and appropriate to themfelves, the poffeilions 
of the reft, and make the fimpler fort labour 
for them; and many are fo lazy, that no- 

yS On the Treatment and 

thing but the whip, and the prefence of the 
overfeer, can make them work, even for them- 
felves. There is fuch a ready market for all 
the little articles which thefe fpots produce, 
that the induHrious flaves of a few, though 
but a few, plantations fituated near the 
mountains, where the weather is feafonable 
and favours the growth of vegetables, main- 
tain themfelves in clothes and food, tole- 
rably well, by the fale of their various fruits, 
with little other immediate aid from their 
mafter, befides a weekly allowance of her- 
rings. But, in far the greater number of 
plantations, the quantity of provifions, or 
marketable vegetables, is uncertain and 
trifling ; and neceffity and hunger will not 
permit the wretches, to leave them in the 
ground to ripen fufficiently. Hence many 
difeafes and ruined conftitutions, from this 
fcanty, rude, ill-prepared food, ufed among 

Formerly, before we became fuch accurate 
planters, and before luxury had rapaci- 
oufly converted every little nook of land 
into fugar, the llaves had a field or two 
of the fallow cane-land yearly divided 
among them, for a crop of yams, peafe, 


Conversion of African Slaves. 79 

and potatoes 5 and a field of the bed cane- 
land was annually put in yams, to be re- 
ferved for their weekly allowance. When 
Our late North American brethren were 
pleafed to threaten our fugar iilands with 
famine, this cuftom began again to be re- 
newed, and with fuch fuccefs as might have 
encouraged them, never, in time to come, 
to have made themfelves as dependent on 
North America as formerly for their dailj 

Some mafters, now-and-then, give their 
flaves Saturday afternoon, out of crop-time, 
to till their fpots of ground; fometimes will 
turn in the whole gang among them to weed 
and put them in order, under the direction 
of the overfeer. But, in general, t^e culture 
of their private patches, and the picking of 
grafs for their cattle , are their employments 
on Sunday. In the low lands thefe pro- 
viiion fpots are hardly ufeful fix months in 
twelve, from the ufual drinefs of the wea- 
ther. Added to the produce of their own 
provifion lands, and the cafualty of a fallow 
field, the flaves have a weekly allowance of 
grain, varying in different plantations, from 
one to three pounds, under the nominal mea- 


8o On the Treatment and 

fure of from tv/o to eight pints. A few plan- 
tations go near to five pounds; one or two 
as far as lix. They have alfo from three to 
eight herrings a week. In general, they are 
far from being well or plentifully fed.* 


* The praftice of turning all our lands to the growth of 
the fugar cane, and neglefting the culture of provifions for 
the flaves, and of artificial grafs for the cattle, has lately 
arifen equally from the demands of extravagance in our abfent 
planters, and of poverty in thofe on the fpot. Sugar, fugar, is 
the inceflant cry of luxury, and of debt. To increafe the 
quantity of this commodity, gardens of half an acre have 
been grubbed up ; and that little patch, which he had ufed to 
till for his own peafe, or cafTava, has the flave been made to 
dig for the reception of his mailer's fugar cane. Nor has the 
little fkirt of pafture, or half rood of artificial grafs, been 
more fpared in this univerfal faoifice to would-be greatnefs ; 
while the poor flave muft attempt to make up for this, and 
every other want but his own, by exertions taken from the 
hour of wearinefs and hunger. Hence the annual expence of 
plantations, within lefs than thirty years, has been more 
than doubled. Hence the fending of two or three extra 
calks of fugar to market has been attended with an expence of 
hundreds of pounds in provifions to flaves, in oats to horfes, 
and in keeping up the flock of flaves and cattle, worn out, 
before their time, by indifcreet extraordinary eiForts, and 
a fcanty allowance. The peculiar fertility of St. Chriftopher's 
has the moft baneful efFefts. It enables the greateft part of its 
proprietors to live in England ; where, infenfible of the fuf- 
ferings of their flaves, they think and dream of nothing but 
ftigar, fugar ; to which, in confequence, every fpot of land 
is condemned. Hence grafs is procured there with more dif- 

Conversion of African Slaves. 8i 

They have an yearly allowance of two or 
three yards of coarfe woollen cloth, called 
bamboo, to which fometimes is added for the 
men a woollen cap, for the women a hand- 
kerchief, and perhaps a few yards of Ofna- 
burghs. At Chriftmas three holidays are 
pretended to be given them; but generally 
Sunday is foifled in for one, and now- 
and-then half of Chriftmas-day mufl be 
employed by them in digging yams for their 
allowance, and in receiving it afterwards, 
with a pound or two of falt-fifh, or a fcrap 
of coarfe Irifh beef. In Jamaica they have 
alfo two holidays at Eafler, and two at 

Their huts are framed of ifland timber, 
cut by each man for himfelf in the moun- 
tains, and carried down by him aod his wife 
on Sundays. Sometimes the owner will 
fupply a board or two to make a door or 
window fhutter, but, in general, fuch mate- 
rials are ftolen ; nails and hinges are either 
ftolen or bought from thofe who have flolen 
them. This often happens on a plantatioa 

ficulty, and the flaves are more fcantily fed, than in the other 
iflands ; and the managers are obliged to keep them up to 
their utmolt poflible exertion to prefcrve their employment. 

F where 

82 On the Treatment and 

where perhaps a thoufand pounds ilerllng 
have been expended on a ftable for a fet of 
Englifh horfes. Indeed Englifh horfes arc 
the leaft neceffary, yet befl attended, bell 
ferved, befh lodged, and moll expenlively 
kept, animals poffelTed by a fugar planter. 

Negroes bred to mechanic employments, 
to fugar boiling, and the like, and fome 
domellic Haves, fare much better than thofe 
v^^ho work in the field. They have opportu- 
nities of retaliating on their mailer for his 
penurious treatment of them, by purloining 
from him; and they often fupply themfelves 
with necelTaries by little ufeful jobs in their 
feveral trades. Slaves in the neighbourhood 
of the towns drive alfo a conliderable trade 
with the inhabitants for grafs and cane tops 
for feeding their horfes. 

A furgeon is generally employed by the 
year to attend the lick Haves. His allowance 
per head varies from fourteen pence to three 
(hillings; in a few inllances it rifes to three 
fhillings and fix pence llerling, befides being 
paid for amputations. Some frugal planters 
trull to their own Ikill, and James's powder, 
and Ward's pill; and, then, for the moll part, 
a furgeon is only called in to pronounce them 


Conversion of African Slaves. 83 

paft recovery. The food of the lick is often 
mufty, indigeftible horfe beans, fometimes 
maize, flour, or rice; fometimes, as a dainty, 
brown bifcuit. On fome plantations, the 
manager is allowed to get, now-and-then, 
a fowl, or a kid to make foup for them. 
Sometimes the owner fends the manager a 
caik of wine, a few glaffes of which are 
fuppofed to be for the ufe of the lick. Where 
the manager is a married man, the lick 
often have a mefs from his table, and caudle, 
tea, and other comfortable flops,- and his 
wife fuperintenda the conducfl of the nurfe, 
and fees that the pregnant and lying-in 
women be properly taken care of. But the 
cuftom of employing married men on plan- 
tations is wearing fait out. Though married 
managers alone can take proper care of the 
lick, though they Hay more conllantly at 
home, and have numberlefs other advanta- 
ges over lingle men, in point of characfter, 
faithfulnefs, and application; yet planters 
have determined it to be better to employ 
perhaps a difTipated, carelefs, unfeeling young 
man, or a grovelling, lafcivious, old batche- 
lor (each with his half fcore of black or 
mulattoe pilfering harlots, who, at their 

F 2 will, 

84 On the Treatment and 

will, fele6t for him, from among the ilaves, 
the objeds of his favour or hatred) rather 
than allow a married woman to be entertained 
on the plantation.* 


• The pretence of this encouragement given to profligacy, 
is, that a family requires more attendants, and confumes more 
fugar than a fingle man ; but the contrary is the faft in a 
very high degree ; and there is not in the fingle man the 
attention, and perfevering care of a fenfible woman, (fuch, in 
an highly ufeful degree, is almoft every manager's wife whom I 
know) in things within her province, which, even, were the 
aflertion true, would more than balance the account. 

I mean not to comprehend every fingle man in the full ex- 
tent of this cenfure. Some fhew the wretches under them 
every mark of attention that their own folitary ftate leaves in 
their power. But all mail pafs through the hands of fome in- 
confiderate boy overfeer, or fome unfeeling black or mu- 
lattoe concubine. And where the fingle man is a gadding, 
goflipping reveller, (a charafter fometimes to be met with) in- 
conceivable are the miferies to which the flaves are fubjefted. 
The neceffaries, where any are allotted for the fick, (and heaven 
knows, on the beft plantations, they are trivial enough!) 
are devoured as a morfel, by that legion of harlots and their 
children, with which the plantation abounds. Often, while 
the manager is feafting abroad, carelefs and ignorant of what 
has happened, fome haplefs wretch among the ilaves is taken ill, 
and unnoticed, unpitied, dies, without even the poor com- 
fort of a furgeon, in his laft moments, to fay, ** It is now too 
*' late." When the unripe female Have has become the new 
objeft of the manager's attachment, ihe becomes an objeft of 
envy to the more experienced dames that have gone before her, 
and muft think herfelf lucky, if fhe pays not with her life the 


Conversion of African Slaves. S^ 

In the year 1774, or before the American 
war, the feveral articles that a flave had an- 
nually returned to him out of his labour, 
were, in too many plantations, within the 
following proportion. In others, his allow- 
ance of food conliderably exceeded what is 
here mentioned : 

£ s d 

Annual allowance of rice, flour, 
maize, beans, or other grain. 

(01^ o 

Ditto of herrings, and his iifh, or 7 ^ 

fcrap of fait beef, at Chriftmas, J 
Ditto clothing, ----- 036 
Surgeon, quack medicines, and ex- 1 
traordinary neceffaries when fick 


Whole annual allowance -160 

The ordinary puniihments of flaves, for 
the common crimes of negledl, abfence from 
work, eating the fugar cane, theft, are cart 
whipping, beating with a flick, fometimes 
to the breaking of bones, the chain, an 
iron crook about the neck, a large iron pud- 
forfeit of her youthful attraftions. In fhort, in the cafe fup- 
pofcd, fhamelefs profligacy ufurps the place of decency, 
fympathy, morality, and religion ; and headlong unthinking 
laft alone produces all the wafting efFefts of diflionefty, cruelty, 
and opprcflion,. 

F 3 ding 

86 On the Treatment and 

ding or ring about the ancle, and confinement 
in the dungeon. There have been inftances 
of flitting of ears, breaking of limbs, fo as to 
make amputation neceflary, beating out of 
eyes, and caftration ; but they feldom happen, 
efpecially of late years, and though they 
bring no lafting difgrace on the perpetrator, 
have, for fome time pafl, been generally 
mentioned with indignation. It is yet true, 
that the unfeeling application of the ordinary 
punifliments ruins the conflitution, and 
ihortens the life of many a poor wretch.* 

To avoid any mifconflrudion, I muft here 
obferve, that the labour, the diet, the puniih- 
ments, in fhort, the general treatment of 
flaves, depend on the charadier of the owner 

* In a certain colony, no lefs than two chief judges, within 
thefe thirty years, have been celebrated for cutting off or 
mafhing (fo as to make amputation neceffary) the limbs of 
their flaves. In one cafe a furgeon was called in to operate ; 
but he anfwered, he was not obliged to be the infirumcnt of 
another man's cruelty. His honour had it then performed by 
a cooper's adze, and the wretch was left to bleed to death, 
without attention, or dreffing. When he became convulfed, 
in the agonies of death, the furgeon was again haftily fent for, 
and came in time to pronounce him dead. People flared at the 
recital, but made no enquiry for blood. In the other cafe the 
limb was maftied with a fledge hammer, and then it was am- 
putated by a furgeon, and the maimed wretch lived fome 



or manager; and that in fome particular plan- 
tations (the grievance of picking grafs, and 
the circumftance of their being fo long as 
lixteen hours out of the twenty-four under 
the la(h of the whip, excepted) they enjoy 
as much eafe and indulgence as are com- 
patible with their prefent ftate of ignorance 
and dependence, and the accurate methodi- 
cal cultivation of a fugar plantation. But 
this cafe and this indulgence, though due 
from all maflers to all flaves, are not deemed 
matter of right, but of kindnefs or favour; 
and too many are fet over them, who want 
both humanity and difcretion to fee either 
the obligation or advantage of fuch treat- 
ment; too many who are too lazy to confult 
any principle but prefent caprice in their con- 
dud: towards them. I have heard managers 
boafl: of not having ordered twelve flripes in 
twelve months among 120 flaves. There are 
alfo managers v/ho may boaft, and there have 
been fome who have boafted, of having given, 
every now-and-then, what they call a cool 
hundred for the llighteft offences. Yet, 
were this lafl even a folitary character, in a 
community, he ought to be an object of 

F 4 police. 

88 On the Treatment and 

police, and be compelled to revere the claims 
of human nature. 

We Cannot pafs over in filence the ufual 
treatment of pregnant women and nurfes. 
In almoil every plantation, they are fond of 
placing every negroe vi^ho can wield an hoe 
in the field gang; fo fond, that hardly any 
remonftrance from the furgeon can, in many 
cafes, fave a poor difeafed wretch from the 
labour^ though, if method prevailed, work 
may be found on the plantation equally ne- 
cefiary and ^proportioned to every various 
degree of ability^ and though one or two 
days attempts in the field be fure to lay them 
up in the hofpital for weeks. 

At this work are pregnant women often 
kept during the laft months of their preg- 
nancy, and hence fufFer many an abortion; 
which fome managers are unfeeling enough 
to exprefs their joy at, becaufe the woman, 
on recovery, having no child to care for, 
will have no pretence for indulgence. 

If, after all, fhe carries her burden the 
full time, ilie muft be delivered in a dark, 
damp, fmoky hut, perhaps without a rag 
in which to wrap her child, except the 


Conversion of African Slaves. S9 

manager has a wife to fympathize with her 
wants. Hence the frequent lofs of negroe 
children by cramp and convuliions within 
the month. A lying-in woman is allowed 
three, in fome plantations four weeks for 
recovery. She then takes the field with her 
child, and hoe or bill. The infant is placed 
in the furrow, near her, generally expofed 
naked, or almofl naked, to the fun and rain, 
on a kid fkin, or fuch rags as fhe can procure. 
Some very few people give nurfes an extra 
allowance. In general, no other attention is 
paid to their condition, except perhaps to 
excufe them from the picking of grafs. 

Though Haves be now raifed to a price that 
few old fettled plantations can afford to give, 
yet this is all the care taken in moft of them 
to raife a young generation ^ while Creoles or 
native Weft Indian negroes are univerfally ac- 
knowledged to be more hardy, diligent, and 
trufty than Africans. Managers, to whofe 
care plantations are left, hold their places, 
as we have obferved, by fo precarious a tenure, 
that they too often confine .their views to the 
making of the greateft prefent exertion that 
is pofTible, (which, indeed, their em- 
ployers prefs them to do) without looking 


90 On the Treatment and 

forward to what may happen fifteen years 


• Under the impreinon of this negligence, let me propofc 
the remedy. Let two rooms be added to the hofpital , one for 
the reception of lying-in women, the other for the fucking 
children, while their mothers are at work. The whole fhould 
be placed fo as to be convenient for the infpedion of the 
manager's wife, whom we efteem to be as neceffary a perfon 
on a plantation as the manager himfelf ; and who, on moft 
plantations, may have fufficient employment in taking care 
of the keys in her hulband's abfence on bufinefs, or at courts, 
(many overfeers npt being truft-worthy) to fee the fickly negroes 
fed, the infants properly taken care of, and the nurfe do her 
duty in the hofpital. For thefe and the like offices, in St. Croix, 
it is ufual to give her a falary, dillinft from her hufband. 
Let two elderly handy women be chofen to attend the children, 
keep them clean, and feed them with fpoon-meat. For the firft 
iix months, nurfes Ihould be kept at moderate labour, near the 
hofpital, to be at hand to fuckie their children, from time to 
time. After that period, they may go through the ordinary 
work of the plantation, except the picking of grafs. They 
ihould have an, extraordinary allowance of food both in quan- 
tity ar(d quality. Every healthy child, prefented to the 
mailer weaned, mould intitle the mother to a complete fuit of 
clothesi'^Every woman, that has three children at work in the 
field, fhould be excufed all field work. 

We have feveral plantations, where by care, and mild 
treatment, and a judicious, or cafually juft proportion between 
the fexes at firft, the flaves increafe from the births; and this 
might be the cafe in all, if the di£lates of prudence and 
humanity were obeyed. To give an inftance in point : there 
are two plantations, bordering on each other, of nearly the 
fame extent. About twenty years ago they were nearly equally 


Conversion of African Slaves. 91 


Mafter and Slave in particular Inftances. 

It has been obferved, that there is no law 
in the colonies to reftrain the ill-behaviour 
or cruelty of a mailer to his Have. It is not 
meant to be infmuated from this, that the 
want, of laws to fecure good treatment to 
them expofeth them to all the ill ufagc, 
that may be fuppofed naturally to arife from 
fuch negled. The humanity of many makers 
more than fupplies the want of laws in every 
other refped, but that of improvement j 
the attachment of others has in them a like 
efFed:. In fome cafes, good fenfe, a regard 
for their reputation, and a well informed 

ftockcd with flavcs : on the one the allowance has been more 
plentiful, and the managers have been more confiderate than 
on the other. Here the flaves are ftrong, hearty, and increafed 
from the births. The other manager boafts of his pinching 
and faving : and that plantation requires an almoft annual 
fupply of eight or ten negroes to keep up the ftock. And, 
till lately, that he, through lazinefs, and abfolute negled 
of his employers intereft, as he underftood it, has relaxed in 
his difcipline, the flaves were a ftarving heartlefs crew. 
Indeed, at this time, none were left but fuch whofe natural 
flrength of conftitution Hood proof againft exccfs of labour, 
fcverity of punifnment, and thelaft tolerable degree of famine. 


92 On the Treatment and 

conviction of their intereft, induce men to 
treat their Haves with difcretion and hu- 
manity. The Haves of many a planter poilefs 
advantages beyond v^hat the labourer even 
in Britain enjoys. It is true the flave cannot 
hope, as the other may, to raife himfelf, or 
his children above their prefent condition; 
or by his induftry to put himfelf or them on 
a footing v^ith his mafter; a fpur to exertion 
and emulation that mull: ever diflinguifh and 
ennoble freedom: yet his work, all but 
that vile picking of grafs, which in St. Chrif- 
topher's is an intolerable burden, is in gene- 
ral eafier ; his life palTes more happily on, 
and he entertains no anxious thoughts about 
his expences when fick, or his maintenance 
when old. Slaves chiefly fufFer, where they 
are the property of an ignorant, low-minded, 
narrow-hearted wretch, or of one indigent 
and involved, or of a man who makes a 
figure beyond his income in England, or 
when they are fubmitted to fome raw lad, 
or untaught unfeeling manager or overfeer. 
And men in fuch circumftances, and of fuch 
difpofitions, are to be found in too great a 
proportion in every community, to have 
abandoned to their ignorance, their cruelty, 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 93 

prejudice, parfimony, or felfifhnefs, fo many 
thoufands of their fellow-creatures as are 
really fubjedted to them in our colonies. 

I have now in contemplation before me, 
a planter, who conceives himfelf to be a 
confcientious man. This man fells every year 
fugar and rum to the amount of 1 0,000 1. or 
15,0001. fterling, belides duties and freight; 
the produce of his flaves labour, in number 
above 500. Though his lands have no par- 
ticular advantages of provilion grounds above 
his neighbours, and though he never was 
remarkable for allowing them any extraor- 
dinary time to work fuch ground, if it had 
been allotted to them, nay, is notorious for 
keeping them drawling on at work under the 
eye of his drivers and overfeers, from ear- 
lieft dawn to midnight, from month to 
month, without refpite or relaxation; yet 
it is only of late years, that he has afforded 
them any thing above fix herrings a week, 
and thofe not very regularly fupplied. His 
manager, indeed, ufed to ileal, now-and- 
then, from his horfes, a bulLel or two of 
beans to divide among the moft emaciated 
ilaves; but it was not the cuflom of the 
plantation to give them any allowance of 


94 On the Treatment anb 

food. Some years ago, his attornies took the 
opportunity of his making a voyage to 
England, to give his flaves an allowance of 
grain, v^hich has lince been continued, and 
has gradually been raifed from a fcanty pound 
per week to nearly the common allowance of 
fix nominal pints, that may weigh about 
two pounds and an half. Indeed, fuch was 
this man's original prejudice againft feeding 
his negroes, and fo unable were they, with- 
out feeding, to exift in a ftate capable of 
labour, that greatly to the lefTening of his 
income, it was his cuftom to keep on making 
fugar, almoft throughout the whole year^ 
in a lifelefs, inaftive manner, in order that 
his Haves might have fome fubfiftence from 
the cane juice. Before the period of which 
we fpeak, flaves had much more provilion 
ground allotted to them, and, being lefs 
hurried by the overfeers, were better able to 
cultivate. When luxury came in, like a 
torrent, among the planters, and feized with 
violence on the flaves little fpots, and de- 
manded the whole of their time, not leaving 
even to fleep its due, the neceffity of pro- 
viding other food for them from foreign 
parts was but flowly perceived, and thoufands 


Conversion OF African Si^AVEs. 95 

had periOied before the lofs was traced to its 
proper caufe; and this man, of whom ive 
write, was one of the lafl who was con- 
vinced that his flaves mufl be fed, if work 
was to be expected from them. Now can it 
be affirmed, that fuch a perfon v/ould not 
have reaped an advantage from a law that 
{hould have direded him how to feed his 
llaves, or that Haves belonging to fuch a man 
would not have been happier in themfelves, 
more profitable to their owner, and better 
and more ufeful members of the ftate, if 
they could have claimed the benefit of a 
law, I will not fay to vindicate for them the 
common rights of humanity, but to fecure 
to them the full exertion of their animal pow- 
ers. And may we not add, that men fo ufeful 
to fociety in their mifmanaged Hate, and 
capable of being rendered infinitely more 
profitable, have demands on fociety for much 
better entertainment than a bit of falted 
herring, or a little raw cane juice? 

And yet, had fuch planters as we have 
been fpeaking of the fenfe to difcern it, 
wifdom would teach them a more liberal 
plan of policy, and make the didates 
of humanity, or even of prudence alone, 
iland in ftead of a thoufand laws. A gen- 

96 On the Treatment and- 

tleman, who lately died here, gave his Haves 
nearly double the proportion of food that is 
given by many, who value themfelves on 
feeding them very high; and he frequently 
faid, that could he afford it, he would in- 
creafe their allowance ilill further. He par- 
celled out to them a larger proportion of his 
ufeful ground than moll of his neighbours, 
for the cultivation of their roots and vege- 
tables, and it lay more convenient for tillage. 
His flaves had all fome little property, a hog, 
a goat, a trifle of money made by the fale of 
the produce of their little gardens, or of their 
weekly allowance of food ; and they were 
all able to keep themfelves decently clothed. 
He enlarged the gang to fuch a number, as 
not to be under the neceffity of working them 
beyond their ftrcngth, or at unfeafonable 
hours. In wet weather, he contrived to em- 
ploy them near the works for the benefit of 
fhelter; and they all had comfortable huts 
to receive them after the labour of the day. 
He allowed them to exchange their provi- 
lions for money, or any other fpecies of food 
more agreeable to them, and it was to en- 
able them to indulge their tafte for variety, 
that he wilhed to increafe an allowaace, other- 

Conversion of African Slaves. 97 

v/ife fufficient for them. He feemed to have 
hit the medium between governing too much 
and too little : his people w^ere always ready 
at command; but they had the full power of 
themfelves and their time, when the plan- 
tation work did not employ them. 

When he left off the purchaiing of new 
ilaves, he poiTeiTed about one hundred and 
fixty. In four years they were increafed 
from the births to one hundred and eighty. 
In eight years he had loft by old age and 
chronic complaints about teji, and a few more 
by the natural fmall-pox, who, when the 
others were inoculated, were palled over, on 
the fuppolition of their having formerly had 
the difeafe. Some few infants were, I believe, 
alfo lofl: within the month 5 and the propor- 
tion of breeding women was fmall. The 
above is not the common proportion of deaths 
in any place. It is not an unufual thing on 
the fame iiland to lofe in one year out of fuch 
a number, ten^ twelve, nay, as far as twenty, 
by fevers, fluxes, dropfies, the effe6l of too 
much work, and too little food and care. 
In fome plantations of the like extent, it is 
neceffary to keep up the gang by an almofl 
annual addition of eight or ten new liaves. 

G His 

98 On the Treatment and 

His whole expence for phyfic, during the 
three lafl years of this period, was within 
half of the annual allowance ufually paid for 
fuch a number. Now, if we take into ac- 
count the labour lofl by the ficknefs of thofe 
numbers that mud be taken ill, where many 
die, the expence of recruits, and the puny, 
weakly, inefficient ftate of the whole, where 
fo much is fuffered from inattention, the 
difference in point of intereft between dif- 
creet and hard ufage is great in favour of 

Farther, in plantations, where flaves are ill 
fed, hard worked, and feverely punifhed, it is 
a circumftance common for a tenth, and even 
as far as a fourth part of the working flaves, 
to go off and fkulk in the mountains, fome 
for months together. The culture of the 
plantation is interrupted by the lofs of their 
labour, while they, by lying out in the woods, 
and learning there to eat dirt or clay, often 
con trad: diforders, of which they never re- 
cover. This gentleman, in the lafl eight 
years of his life, had only one flave who abfented 
himfelf two days, on having had fome words 
with the pverfeer, for having debauched one 
of his wives. Thefe particulars taken toge- 

Conversion OF African Slaves. 99 

ther, are not defplcable advantages of fellow- 
feeling and humanity; and if the like care 
was extended to the improvement of their 
minds, they, who were fo well cared for in 
what refpecfts the body, might in time be 
brought to pay fqme attention to what con- 
cerns the foul. 

It is pleafant to record fuch an inftance, 
and, did I not fear to awaken detraction, I 
would, in order to humble European pride, 
celebrate him by name, as a Creole of at leaft 
four defcents, the friend of the author, and 
a man of more confiderable humanity in 
private, and more comprehenlive generolity 
in public life, than (except in one or two 
cafes more) has ever come within my notice. 
But this gentleman had chiefly in view the 
cafe and happinefs of his own flaves: per- 
haps an example, where profit is the objed:, 
may be more convincing. A young man has 
the care of a confiderable plantation in the 
neighbourhood: his character depends on its 
thriving condition, and the profitable^ re- 
turns made to the abfent owner. The flaves, 
when he took charge of them, were a puny 
weakly gang, and fewer in number than in 
other plantations of the fame extent. The 

G 2 planta- 

lOo On the Treatment and 

plantation is particularly laborious, yet the 
work is more forward, and better finiihed, the 
Haves more healthy, the deaths fewer, the 
crops greater, the rum in an higher propor- 
tion, and the fugar better and higher priced, 
than in the plantations around it. 

This is the fecret of his management. He 
is a ilave to method. If once he hath taken 
public notice of a trefpafs againft the efta- 
blifhed difcipline, he never pardons, except 
when, in a particular cafe, he obliges the 
culprit to find fome reputable feliow-flave, 
to become fecurity with him for his good be- 
haviour. He attends carefully to his own 
duty, and therefore few under him dare to be 
negligent j fo that he feldom has occaiion to 
corred:. The trial of all trefpalles, and dif- 
penfation of punifliments, are held in pre- 
fence of the gang. The fentence is accom- 
panied with a public explanation of the fault, 
and an exhortation to avoid it; and often the 
contempt and reproach of the culprit's fellows 
make the fevereft part of the corre<5tion. If 
the whole gang has behaved remarkably well, 
throughout the week, he diftributes fome 
little reward among them, or, if the work 
permits, gives them Saturday afternoon to 


Conversion of African Slaves, ioi 

themfelves. Ifaflave has been remarkably 
diligent, he gets fome money, a bit of beef, 
or other trifle on Sunday. Sometimes he 
^fFedis to difcover remarkable diligence in a 
lazy Dave, and rewards it as if real, and 
thus encourages him to exert himfelf, and 
excites thofe vt^ho defpifed him, ftill more 
to out-do him. If tvv^o or three behave re- 
markably ill, the ufual indulgence or re- 
ward is with-held from the gang. This 
makes them become guardians of each other's 
conduct, and fear the fcorn and refentment 
of their companions, more than their mailer's 
power. He embraces every occaiion to 
harangue them on their duty, and on the 
advantage of obedience, and good behavioiiri 
and this cuftom has infenfibly introduced 
among them the feeds of fentiment, and 
moral diftindlion. Their allowance of food 
is double to that of plantations where they 
pretend to give the fame number of pints of 
grain. When they hole, or hand plough, 
the land, they have an extraordinary allow- 
ance of food, and are indulged with rum 
and water to drink. The fick, and their 
nurfe, are put under his wife's direction, and 
any remarkably puny negro is employed 
about the houfe and kitchen, 

G 3 CHAP. 

( 102 ) 


The Advancement of Slaves v^ould aug- 
ment their Social Importance. 

IN the preceding chapter, we have con- 
trafted flavery, as it has been varioully 
enforced among different nations, over the 
unfortunate, v\^ith thofe ranks, into which 
fociety naturally, and profitably, feparates 
its members. In this laft ftate, we obferve 
a rule originating in our conflitution, by our 
Creator's will, that leads on each individual 
from his own fecurity and happinefs, to 
form the happinefs and fecurity of the com- 
munity to which he belongs. In the other, 
the capricious will of individuals is the 
only law of their dependents, and, without 
once confulting their welfare, concludes all 
their feelings, and all their dearefl interefts. 
And all mafters, in proportion as they them- 


Conversion of African Slaves. 103 

felves are free, are, for their mutual profit, 
confpired together to rivet, and extend the 
chains of flavery, as far as their power ex- 

This unnatural ftate of mankind has, 
more or lefs, departed from the dictates of 
humanity, in proportion as the difpofition 
of mafters, and the views of legifJators, have 
overlooked or confidered the general rights 
of mankind. The cuftoms and manners of 
different nations have, in fome inflances, 
foftened the lot ofmiferable flaves ^ in others 
have encouraged the head-long cruelty of 
mafters. But in the Britifli plantations, the 
infolence arifing from the keen fenfe of our 
own freedom, (ai)d yet why fliould not a 
keener fy mpathy with fuffering humanity 
operate on our feelings) and the incefTant 
demands of luxury, and extravagance, that 
make themfelves to be heard, and obeyed 
from the capital a-crofs the vafl atlantic, have 
there funk human nature down to the lowefl 
depth of wretchednefs. Hunger, miftrufl, 
opprefhon, ignorance, produce in the flaves 
worthleflhefs, and crimes ; and the avarice 
and cruelty, that contrived the faults, exa<5b 
punifhment for them with as much ef- 
G 4 frontervj 

104 ^N '^^^ Treatment and 

frontery, as if they who made them flave$» 
and thereby deprived them of every virtu- 
ous feeling, and every fpur to emulation, 
were not anfwerable in their own perfons 
for the bafe efFeds. Do we wijGfi to form 
adequate notions of their mifery ? Let us 
imagine (and would heaven it were only 
imagination !) mafters and overfeers, with up- 
lifted whips, clanking chains, and preffing 
hunger, forcing their forlorn flaves to com- 
mit every horrid crime that virtue ihrinks 
at, and with the fame weapons puniihing the 
perpetration, not to the extremity indeed that 
nature can bear, but till the whole man finks 
under them. But to make the reprefenta- 
tion complete, we mufl alfo draw humanity, 
bleeding over the horrid fcene, and longing, 
eagerly longing, to be able to vindicate her 
own rights. Still, whatever fhe may urge, 
it will have little weight, if avarice or lux- 
ury oppofe her claim. We are exceeding- 
ly ready, it is the turn of the age, to ex- 
prefs ourfelves forrowfully, when any ad; of 
opprefTion, or unjufl fuffering, is related 
before us ; the generous fentiment flows 
off our tongues, charity feems to 


Conversion of African Slaves. 105 

didtate every fympathizing phrafe, and vanity 
comes cheerfully forward to make her offer- 
ing. But whom fliall we find willing to 
facriiice his amufement or his pleafure, to 
obey the call of humanity? Who to relieve 
the fufferings of the wretched Have, will 
boldly encounter the oppreifor's rage, or offer 
up felfifli interefl at the altar of mercy ? 
"W hy, then, hath the ad:ive zeal of the be- 
nevolent Mr. Granville Sharp, and a few 
others, in the bufinefs that we now agitate, 
hitherto made the unfeeling indifference of 
our age, and nation, but the more confpicu- 
ous ? 

We mufl not therefore flop at gaining 
over humanity to our fide, but go on to 
fhew, that fociety is deeply interefted in 
advancing the condition of flaves, and that it 
would even be for the benefit of their im- 
mediate maflers, that they fhould be fubjedl 
only to the laws. As the cravings of lux- 
ury and extravagance have of late begun to 
make inroads, even on the flave's partial 
refpite from toil on the fabbath; we v/ill, in 
the mean time fhew, till this much- to- 
be defired freedom can be brought gradually 


io6 On the Treatment and 

about, how much the mafter fins, not only" 
againft heaven, but his own immediate inte- 
reft, when he forces his Have to toil for him 
on this facredday. And fo low is their fliate, 
that we fhall not intirely lofc the purpofe of 
this undertaking, if we vindicate for them 
only their legal claim to this indulgence. To 
make the reader the better acquainted with 
the fubjedt of our inquiry, we will premife 
a fliort account of the prefent importance of 
the flaves in our fugar colonies. And we 
hope to leave felfiflmefs, and private intereft, 
without excufe, for continuing the heavy 
yoke which now opprefTes them. 

Their prefent importance to Society as flaves. 

In treating of this fubjed:, the author 
finds a difhculty in fupprefling his feelings. 
How fhall a man, who is firmly convinced 
that religion, and law, mufl go hand in 
hand, and extend their influence over every 
individual, in order to fecure the full pur- 

Conversion of African Slaves. 107 

pofes of fociety, pafs over, without cenfure, 
a conduct both in governors and people^ 
which, refpe<Sing our colonies, is wholly re- 
gardiefs of thefe important points ; even a- 
mong thofe, who have always been acknow- 
ledged as citizens ? All civilized ftates, 
hitherto, have had an eftablifhed religion. 
An eflablifhed religion has a ftrong influ- 
ence on every mode that is tolerated, though 
not eftablifhed. The church of England, 
particularly, is confidered by all fober peo- 
ple, as the great flay of the conflitution ; 
and it is a fad;, that the enemies of the one 
always aim their attacks at the other. But 
in the places of which I write, with hard- 
ly one exception, neither is law animated by 
religion, nor is religion fupported by law. 
Even common opinion has no check to 
oppofe to the moil fcandalous crimes, nor 
does it operate to reftrain the moft indecent 



* In this pi»5lure, I mean not a general charge of depravity, 
but of careleffnefs and indolence, that fix neither puniihment 
"nor difgrace on the greateft irregularities. When it is con- 
fidered, that neither religion nor common opinion have any 
check in thefe iflands on perfonal behaviour, it is not fo 


io8 On the Treatment and 

This obfervation of the negle<£l of all ap- 
pearance of religion in the colonies is truly 
difcouraging, and leads diredily to this 
jiifl: and mournful conclufion concerning 
Haves: *' That the government which pays 
** no attention to the moral and religious 
** conduct of its liege fubjedts, can be 
** expe(5ted to do but little for the im- 
" provement of Haves." In thefe we be- 
hold a wretched race of mortals, w^ho are 
conlidered as mere machines or inftru- 

furprizing that many heinous crimes fhould Ihew themfelves, 
as that they fhould continue to be confined to the fmaller 
number in a country, where law attends to nothing but the 
fecurity of a man's property. 

It is indeed true of the inhabitants, that though fome indivi- 
duals may, and a£lually do, commit the mofl; flagrant offences, 
not without puniihment only, but even without bluHiing, yet 
they are in general much better than their rulers. Within thefe 
five years, the grand jury of a certain colony ftrove in vain to 
bring the complicated crime of murder and inceft to a trial. The 
whole bench of juftices, and king's council, without even fup- 
pofmg the man innocent, united to oppofe the attempt, and 
proteft the culprit, and were able to do it effeftually. 

Barbadoes is almoll the only colony, where a,ny tolerable 
degree of decency is preferved, refpefting an eftablifhed reli- 
gion ; and though there be many and grievous defefts in its 
conflitution and government, yet this circumftance gives it 
confiderable advantages in point of decency ar^d civilization 
above the others, efpecially the new iflands, 


Conversion of African Slaves. 109 

mcnts of our profit, of our luxury, 
of our caprice, without feelings, without 
rights, without profped:s : — Defpifed beings, 
who have found no friend, helper, or pro- 
te6lor ; who have not influence with a legi- 
ilature, that from year to year is employed 
in making ad:s in favour of horned cattle, 
and afcertaining the rights of partridges and 
dogs, to get a flatute paiTed, (I will not fay 
for their benefit as reafonable creatures, but) 
for their feelings and utility as mere ani- 
mals, or infcruments of labour j v/ho 
cannot procure an edi«fl: to prevent the leafl 
particle of the unalienable rights of human 
nature from being wrefled out of their 
polfeffion, by the ignorance, prejudice, cru- 
elty, revenge, and felfifhnefs of untaught, 
inconfiderate men, their mafiers and their 
overfeers. And this neglect they meet 
with from a legiilature, whofe chief conjfti- 
tutional purpofe of aflembling, is to dif- 
pofe of their conftituents money, and which, 
from a very natural inquiry, might have 
known, that while the ilaves in our fugar 
colonies, exceeded not the fortieth part of 
the inhabitants of the empire, at the break- 
ing out of the late war, they contributed, 


no On the Treatment and 

in that negleded ilate, perhaps nearly a fixth 
part of its then revenue ; a proportion 
which might be confiderably increafed, if 
the condition of the miferable wretches them- 
felves were a little improved. 

As this is a bold allertion, it will be ne- 
ceflary to ihew, on what ^^^/'^ I proceed, in 
the difcuffion of a fubjed;, in which exadlnefs 
cannot be expeded. I had made my calcu- 
lations before America was declared inde- 
pendent, Ireland made a feparate flate, and 
Tobago, with all its improvements, given 
up to France ; and it is a fubje6t of too 
much chagrin, to adapt them now to our 
new condition. 

The fugar colonies produce fugar, rum, 
coffee, cocoa, cotton, ginger, pimento, indigo. 

The inhabitants of England and 1 

Wales are eftimated at j" 7o > 

Scotland 1,500,000 

Ireland 2,500,000 


British Isles, &c. 

North America Freemen 2,600,000 

= — .- — — -Slaves 400,000—3,000,000 

Sugar Colonies Freemen 82,000 

, -. - . I Slaves 418,000— 500,000 

Colonies 3,500,000 

Empire 15,000,000 


Conversion OF African Slaves, hi 

tobacco, aloes, mahogany, fweetmeats. Sec, 
Thefe valued all as caiks of raw fugar, each 
of 1 200 lb. at the King's beam, London, 
may be eilimated in moderately produdlive 
years, as below. To complete the view, 
the inhabitants are added. 

Iflands Free Inhabitants 


Staple redu- 

ced to calks 

of Sugar 









Grenada and Grenadillas 




St. Vincent's 




















St. Chriftopher 




Anquilla, Tortola, and its 1 
Dependencies 3 




Jamaica & its Dependencies 






~4i 8,000 


The fugar baker in Britain pays for fugar, 
the chief article, from ^^24 to ^^30 per cafk. 
Hence the value of the ftaple is feldom below 
jr6,ooo,ooo per annum. The Haves efti- 
mated at jT^o each will exceed the fum of 
>r20,ooo,coo. The lands, buildings, and 


JI2 On the Treatment and 

other flock, may be fet down at twice this 
fum, or ^40,000,000. We have then the 
Weft-Indian flock, exceeding ^60,000,000 
and giving a yearly produce of ^6,000,000 
About _£i, 000, 000 of this lafl comes into 
the exchequer, for duties on fugar, rum, &c. 
And there cannot be lefs than ^8qo,ooo 
raifed on the trade of the"illands, and on the 
planters, who refide, and fpend their fortunes 
in England. The freight, agency, light- 
houfe money, ftorage, infurance, and other 
incidental charges, are a full million more of 
gain to Britain. And as the whole is put in 
motion, and draws its worth from the labour 
of ilaves, it clearly proves their prefent im- 
portance> and their claim to national at- 

Indeed, the whole balance of their annual 
produce may be fuppofed as remaining with 
Britain. For there is not referved in the 
colonies, a part fufEcient to make the ne- 
cefTary improvements, in many cafes, not 
even to keep up the flock. And even what 
is fpent in the iflands, is laid out in the 
purchafe of Britifh or American com- 
modities 5 but much the largefl fhare is kept 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 113 

in Britain, to be fpent, or to pay the interell 
of five or fix millions of money due there. 
In fhort, they may be confidered as manu- 
fafturies eflabliihed in convenient diflant 
places, that draw all their utenfils from, and 
fend all their produce to, the mother coun- 

I have fuppofed the medium produce to be 
^6,000,000, as the prime coft in Britain; 
but after paffing through the hands of the 
manufacturer, it mufl cofb the confumer full 


Their prefent importance to Society would 
be increafed by Freedom. 

From this view of the importance of our 
flaves, in their prefent ftate, (for they alone 
fi:amp a value on Weft- Indian property) it will 
clearly follow, that to improve and advance 
their condition in focial, to encourage and 
inflfud: them in moral life, would be as po- 
litically profitable, as it is religious and 
humane. Were their condition advanced, 
they would become more worthy, more va- 

H luable 

114 On the Treatment and 

luable fubjedis. They would produce much 
more by their labour, and agreeably to that 
great purpofe of modern police, iinanceering, 
by the confumption of more manufad:ures, 
they would increafe the public revenue.* 
Inftead of confining their demands, as at 
prefent, to a few coarfe woollens and Of- 
naburgs, to a little grain, a few herrings, 
and falt-fifh, they would open a new traffic 
in every branch of trade, and while they 
improved our commerce, they would add 
to the ftrength and fecurity of the colonies. 
The few, who by accident, or indulgence, have 
been advanced in focial life, make even now 
a conliderable addition to the internal con- 
fumption of the white inhabitants. . And 
how much to be preferred, a numerous 
free peafantry is to a few over- grown fa- 

* A French author fneers at Boyle, for propoiing to propa- 
gate Chriftianity among favages, with a view to make them 
wear clothes, and thereby increafe the demand for Eng- 
lifli manufadlures. Perhaps he aimed to catch men, by the 
bait of intereft, who were dead to fentiments of religion and 
humanity. Still the obfervation fhews, how much a progrefs 
in religion draws^ after it focial advantages, and civilization, 
of which the Moravian miifions in Greenland are a molt 
convincing proof. 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 115 

milies, and their herds of naked, half flarved 
Haves, is too evident to need explanation. 

There are about 30,000 inhabitants in St. 
Chriftopher's, of which not more than one in 
ten is free. They are iii dread of infurredli- 
ons in time of peace, and in time of war are 
expofed to every fort of depredation ; every 
pitiful privateer, while hovering around, 
alarming the coaft, and endangering their 
fafety. For at thefe times the Haves, far from 
adding to their ftrength, weaken and dimi- 
nifh it. But if all the inhabitants were free, 
and had property and families to fight for, 
what fliould they have to fear, who could 
draw out full 8000 hardy men, habituated 
to the climate, and, within five hours, have 
them ranged in order againft any enemy that 
might aflail them. 

That fugar may be made by white labour- 
ers, appeared in the firfl fettlement of our 
iflands, efpecially Barbadoes. In the moft 
flouriihing flate of that Ifland, the fugar- 
cane was chiefly cultivated by white fer- 
vants. It has fenfibly and gradually decayed 
in trade and importance, fince the majority 
of its inhabitants has been changed from 
free-men to flaves. The flock of the planter 
H 2 has 

Ii6 On the Treatment ANf) 

has indeed been increafed with the number^ 
and the price of his Haves ; but his neat 
produce has not kept pace with it. Even 
after this illand had been fome time on the 
decline, one plantation {tl^e Bell) fitted out 
a company of foldiers for the expedition 
formed in 1691, under Codrington, agamft 
Guadaloupe. If there be now on the fame 
ipot, four white men, including the pro- 
prietor, able to bear arms, it is a great pro- 
portion. From this we may judge, how 
much the ifland has fince loil in trade and 
fecurity, even after allowing largely in the 
calculation. Yet it continues to fupport a 
greater proportion of free- men than our other 

To this inftance of making fugar by free- 
men, we may add the example of Cochin 
China. It fupplies the populous empire of 
China with fugar, made by free-men. The 
quantity exported is eftimated at 800,000,000 

* About the time of the reftoration, the ifland of St. Chrif- 
topher contained about x 0,000 French and Engliflt, capable 
of bearing arms. About 1750, Nevis could arm above 5000. 
The whole prefent militia of both iflands exceeds not 1000. 
Such adellroyer is flavery of population, 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 117 

pound, or about 500,000 of caiks, which 
greatly exceeds the quantity of fugar made 
in the illes, and continent of America, by 
African Haves. And this quantity may be 
fuppofed capable of being greatly increafed, 
if the manufacfture w^as carried on in the 
fame accurate manner as in the European 
colonies. For, according to Le Poivre, the 
cane juice is only boiled into fyrup at the 
place of growth, and in that flate is carried 
to the feveral towns, to be fold to the fugar 
baker, who boils, refines, and candies it. 
After this tedious procefs, brown fugar is 
fold at 3s. 4d. per hundred pound, white 
fugar 6s. 8d. and candied fugar at 8s. In 
our iilands brown fugar is worth by the 
100 pound, from 20s. to 36s. fterling, and 
yet many of our proprietors cannot pay 
their intereft-money, and fupport their flock, 
without fuppoiing any fhare of the produce to 
be allotted as the returns of their own capital. 

H 3 SECT. 

ai8 On the Treatment and 


Their Mafters would be profited by their 

It might be difficult for government to 
form a plan, that fhould at once extend full 
liberty to, and thereby beftow due rank on 
our flaves, without immediately indanger- 
ing the property of their mafters, and of 
the trading part of the nation connedted with 
them in bufinefs and intereft. And it mufl 
be acknowledged, that fuch at prefent is 
the ignorant, helplefs condition of far the 
greater part ȣ>f the flaves, that full liberty 
would be no bleffing to them. They need 
a mafter to provide and care for them. The 
plan, propofed to advance and inilrud: them, 
mufl be gentle, flov/ in its progrefs, keeping 
pace with the opening of their minds, and 
looking forward for its completion to a 
diftant period. 

The jQaves, in that little fpot, St. Chrif- 
topher'Sj moderately appraifed, would exceed 
Xi>30o,ooo, and as they are part of a ftock 
^^ >C4>ooo,ooo, and give effeft and life to 

Conversion OF African Slaves. 119 

that ftcck, the fruits of their labours being 
in mofl years worth to the confumers, 
£700,000, it is evident that an immenfe 
change or rather annihilation of property 
would be occaiioned, if this fcheme took at 
once eifedt in the colonies ; nor would it be 
pollible to find the mafters an equivalent. 

While I acknowledge this in favour of 
the mafter, as things are now fituated, I am. 
firmly of opinion, that a fugar plantation 
might be cultivated to more advantage, and 
at much lefs expence, by labourers who 
were free-men, than by flaves. Men who, 
like flaves, are ill treated, ill clothed, and 
worfe fed, who labour not with any view 
to their own profit, but for that of a mafler, 
whom for his barbarity they perhaps abhor, 
have not ftrength, nor fpirits, nor hope to 
carry them through their tafk. A free- man, 
labouring for himfelf, in the earning of his 
wages, whofe food is portioned out by 
himfelf, not by an unfeeling boy overfeer ; 
who feels his own vigour, who looks for- 
ward to the conveniences of life as connect- 
ed with his induflry, will furely exert more 
ilrength, will fliew more alacrity, than a 
H 4 flarved. 

120 On the Treatment and 

ftarved, deprefTed, difpirited wretch, who 
drawls out his talk with the whip over him. 

It is a common day's labour, where the 
work is carefully performed, for thirty 
grown Haves to dig with hoes, in a loofe 
gravelly foil, an acre of ground, into holes of 
£ve feet by four, from about feven to twelve 
inches deep, leaving fpaces between the rows 
equal at leaft to half the holes, untouched, 
to receive the mould. The fhare of fuch a 
piece of work to one Have, will be a fpot of 
nearly fifty by thirty feet, including the 
untouched fpaces. A tafic this, that might 
be more than doubled, by a labourer of or- 
dinary ftrength, having fpirits and inclina- 
tion to the work. 

In St. Chriilopher's, 16000 ilaves, all ca« 
pable of fome labour, are employed in the 
cultivation of about iiooo acres ^ for the 
whole cane-land of the ifland is about 22000 
acres, and each field gives a crop once in 
two years. This is in the proportion of 
three Ilaves to the annual culture of two 
acres ; a rate that would be unnecefiary a- 
mong free-men, and which the Britifh prices 
for Well- Indian produce could alone fup- 


Conversion of African Slaves. 121 

port. It may be remarked, that this labour 
has no winter celTation. 

The common appraifement of prime field 
ilaves, before the American war, was ^60 fher- 
ling each ; the annual rent of a ilave was from 
£t to ^8. The renter enfured them, if valued, 
at five per cent, or ^3 more. A plantation 
Have cofls the employer then, without reck- 
oning food, clothes, phyfic, or taxes, full 
^10 per annum, or one lixth part of his 
appraifed value. A number of Ilaves, ca- 
pable of producing on a plantation, well 
furnifhed with live ftock and neceffary 
buildings, 100 cafls:s of fugar, annually at a 
medium, making but a moderate allowance 
for their deaths in feafoning, if bought from 
the flave-merchant, will amount on value, 
to ^6000. In the new illands, before fuch 
a number could be relied on, they have in 
every cafe cofl much more -, in one, with- 
in the author's knowledge, above the double 
of this fum. The quantity of fugar here 
fuppofed, and the rum ariling from it, in 
moil: fituations will not keep the plantation 
in neceffary ftores, and pay the current ex- 
pences, and fupply a fund to anfwer fuch 
accidents as hurricanes, blafls, iire, morta- 

122 On the Treatment and 

lity, and unfavourable feafons, and alfo 
give ^1200 to the proprietor, as the pro- 
duce of his lands, buildings. Haves, and 
other ilock. 

If his flaves be confidered as rented from 
another man, and he infures them to the 
ouqier, £ 1000 of this £ i 200 is immediate- 
ly to be flruck off, as the value of the flaves 
labour. There remains to the proprietor 
^200, as the return of his lands, buildings, 
and cattle. In fuch a plantation the build- 
ings often have cofl: ^^3000 fterling, fom^e- 
times more j the cattle, horfes, and mules 
muft be worth from ^^600 to £ 1000. Per- 
haps the proprietor has paid from 3^10,000 
to £ 12,000 for the lands. The reader 
may be aiTured this is no ideal calculation, 
but in the ifland of St. Chriflopher, though 
our moil: produdiive fugar colony in pro- 
portion to its lize, has frequently come with^ 
in the author's obfervation. And is labour 
fo injudicioufly laid out in any other part 
of the V7orld ? Can any reafons be given, 
why a fugar planter fhould prefer the em- 
ploying of flaves to that of free-men, fee- 
ing with a large diminution of returns, he 
may have a much larger clear income than a.t 


Conversion of African Slaves. 123 

prefent. An argument, that when duly- 
weighed, renders our expectations of the 
extenlion of liberty, though diflant, not 

But we will confider the policy of em- 
ploying flaves purchafed with money, in 
another point of view. In a free country, 
a peafant in general executes twice the work 
of a Have in the fugar colonies ^ we might 
go farther, but this is fufficient for our 
purpofe. On the other hand the peafant's 
food is more found, more plentiful, his 
clothes more expeniive than thofe of a 
Have ; but not in proportion to the differ- 
ence in value of their labour, perhaps not 
exceeding greatly the infurance, and other 
incidental charges of ilavery. In general, 
this food and raiment are all that the pea- 
fant, as well as the Have, reaps from his 
labour, few of them railing themfelves by 
their induftry to a fuperior ftation -, and 
when they do this, it is effe(5ted by fuperior 
induftry, or keennefs, and greater parlimony, 
rather than by extraordinary wages. The 
whole then of a peafant's labour (that pro- 
portion excepted, which the Have in a cer- 
tain degree alfo claims from his toil) be- 

124 ^^ "^"^ Treatment and 

comes the profit and property of his em- 
ployer, as fully and truly as if he were a 
Have 3 with this difference in favour of the 
firft, that the obligation, or tie between him 
and his mafter, ends with the day's, or year's 
labour, and draws no difagreeable or ex- 
peniive confequences after it, to either of 
the parties. 

Now from the fuperior progrefs of popula- 
tion in free countries, compared with that 
of thofe wherein ilavery prevails, when a 
peafant dies, his place is immediately fup- 
plied in the courfe of generation ; the em- 
ployer fuffers no damage, or lofs of time i 
and while labour and improvement go equal- 
ly on, even the public, to which every per- 
fon in a free ilate may be faid to belong, is 
not fenfible of the event. In fhort, in a free 
ftate, the death of an individual is like a 
ftone caft into the water, it makes a fudden 
feparation of the parts, but the water clofes 
on it, and fettles into a fmooth furface, as 
if no accident had preceded. But to his 
mafter, the death of a flave is a fenfible, 
fevere lofs, which he mufl immediately re- 
pair, at an heavy expence, that, after being 
incurred, will not make him the fame pro- 

Conversion of African Slaves. 125 

fitable returns, as the labour of a peafant 
for which he pays (and that not till after 
the execution of the work) only fuch a 
value as he ought to expend in the main- 
tenance of his ilaves. The eftimation of 
ufeful Haves, without taking lufl, caprice, 
or favour into account, is according to their 
trades and accomplifhments, from ^50 to 
;f 300 fterling. Hence the death of a valua- 
ble flave becomes a moft ferious matter to 
the mafter, while a peafant, or tradefman, 
will do him fuperior fervice, without origi- 
nal expence, or daily rifk to him, or to the 

This is a view of the fubjeft, and a man- 
ner of reafoning in it, which cannot, I appre- 
hend, be controverted, and plainly proves, that 
could we contrive a method of once getting 
over the firft iliock, which fuch a change 
Would occafion, and fet down free-men and 
women (who in the common progrefs of 
population, might fupport or increafe their 
original number, in our colonies) in the 
room of Haves, we fhould lefTen the nominal 
value of the necelTary ftock, contra(5t tbe 
expences of individuals, and much more 
than doubJe their prefent profit. Here, 


12.6 On the Treatment and 

then, we have an argument againft llavery, 
which applies equally to the interefl of the 
mafter, and the advantage of the public, and 
ought to gain a fair hearing for every plan, 
that propofes to lefTen the numbers, and 
advance the condition of flaves. And were 
we not afraid of ftartling the imaginations 
of people, by the extraordinary alTertion, 
we would not heiitate to affirm, that were 
the minds of the negroes once opened, and 
properly prepared -, and were they in gene- 
ral confined to the cultivation of Weft-In- 
dian produce, and the trades conned:ed with 
it 5 and did government introduce from time 
to time, till things became fettled on the 
new bafis, at the expence of the colony, the 
neceflary recruits j the general manumiffion 
of flaves would be attended with no imme- 
diate lofs to the planters ; and, by taking 
away the neceffity of fupplying themfelves 
with recruits at their own expence, would 
be an important faving to them. Indeed, 
after one generation, recruits would not be 
wanted ; freedom would increafe fafter than 
death iejjhzed their numbers.* 

* The reader will be pleafed with the following fenfible 
remarks of a gentleman of Barbadoes, on his perufxng this fee- 
tion in manufcript. 


Conversion of African Slaves. 127 

A- ilate of abfolute freedom is indeed a 
revolution that we may rather v^iih for, than 


Barbadoes, of all the Weft-Indian iflands, can the leaft af- 
ford the immenfe expenfe of an annual fupply of flaves. As 
the white inhabitants are numerous, flavery might be abolifh- 
ed in a few years, without an individual fuifering by it. The 
majorityof the inhabitants are indigent. There are numbers 
of flaves, who, having been taught trades, are become highly 
valuable, of whom, one, two, or a few, are frequently the only 
fupport of whole white families, v/ho live in indolent poverty 
on the returns of their labour, and by their death find them- 
felves reduced to the utmoft diftrefs, and incapable of doing 
any thing for themfelves. Ifthisfortof precarious property 
were not univerfally relied on, fo as to have a general ill eifedl 
on the manners of the people, they would of neceillty be forced 
to be more induftrious in themfelves, and more osconomical in 
their expences. If flavery were checked, the poor white peo- 
ple, who, at prefent, (from the circumftance of their living 
meanly idle on the labours 6£ others,) are perhaps the moft 
lifelefs, inactive fet of mortals, on the whole earth, would be 
obliged to exert themfelves in the cultivation of their own, and 
others lands, and foon would perceive their conftitutions andcir- 
cumftances equally improv^ed. The great land-holders would 
find their expences and their profits go hand in hand ; for they 
would pay only for produdlive labour. The moft induftrious 
labourers would command the beft employment, and the moft 
punctual pay would conftantly have the preference. Thus 
pundluality and application would encourage each other, re- 
new the face of the colony, and put the whip and chain to 
fhame. It would be a great ftep towards this defirable pur- 
pofe, if the introduftion of flaves into the colony was prohibit- 
ed by ftatute, and all afts that lay fines upon thofe mafters 
who free their flaves, were repealed. Every method fliould 


128 On the Treatment and 

expedt for fome time to fee, though doubt- 
lefs it is within the plan of providence, and of 
man's progreffive advancement in fociety. 
It fuppofes a regard for religion, a looking 
beyond immediate profit, and a foundnefs 
of policy, foreign to the eilimation, and 
opinion of the prefent age. To make the 
plan efFedual, it fhould prevail in every 
European fettlement j an event fo little to 
be expelled from the manners v^hich now pre- 
vail, that a man would not venture the im- 
putation of fuch extravagance, as the bare 
fuggeftion of it would be deemed. For 
could fo many oppofing interefts be recon- 
ciled -J and fiiould a partial innovation take 
place, that prefent bugbear of European po- 
licy, the balance of trade, would be fup- 
pofed to be in danger. 

be ufed, that would induce the people to refpeft the inftitvttions 
of religion, and wean them from that careleffnefs refpefting 
them, which is fo prevalent, and has fuch baneful efFeftson their 
manners. The flaves in Barbadoes are perhaps more ripe for 
thefe privileges than thofe of our other colonies ; becaufe the 
proportion of Creoles, or natives, is greater among them ; they 
are more converfant with the free people, and are lefs pinned 
down than in other iflands to digging the ground. It is 
certain, they have in their prefent ftate been at different times 
trufted with arms j corps of them have been formed, and on all 
occafions have difcovered an alacrity that promifed every pof- 
fible exertion. 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 129 

But were ilaves inftrudled in the fimple 
precepts of religion ; were they taught to 
diftinguiih right from wrong 5 did the law 
fecure to them a more plentitul fubfiftence, 
more humane ufage; were they permitted 
to acquire and enjoy property j were the 
rights of a family made facred ; could they 
look forward to freedom, as the reward of 
merit, or the purchace of induflry ; in fhort, 
were they confidered as having fome rights, 
fome claims, as intitled to fome of the un- 
alienable, fome of the referved rights of 
human nature ; their condition would in 
confequence be advanced, they would be- 
come more ufeful, more profitable fubjedts, 
and, might even be trufted with arms, in 
defence of the colony in which they have 
an intereft. Indeed it is not their want of 
arms, but their good fenfe and moderation, 
in moft colonies, that are a prefent fecurity 
to the inhabitants. I forbear to fay more on 
fo dangerous a topic* 


• It Is worthy of obfervatlon, that though the artificers in 
the King's dock yards had, from their firft eftablilhment, been 

I engaged. 

130 On the Treatment an!) 

S E C T. IV. 

Their Mailers would be profited by allowing 
their Slaves the Privilege of a weekly 

We have proved^ that the gradual exten- 
lion of freedom would have the beft effe(fls 


engaged, and liberally paidj by the day, yet within thefe 
twelve years, it has been found moft expedient to employ and 
pay them by the piece, or job ; the men earning more, and the 
public getting more work, and that cheaper done, than in the 
former method, when they jufl: drawled out the prefcribed 
number of hours, and like Cyrus's well-trained foldier, would 
fufpend the up-lifted axe, at the firft llroke of the bell that 
called them off from their work. Good farmers alfo employ 
labourers, wherever they can, by the piece, and induftrious 
men prefer it, as being mutually moft profitable. In Kent, 
where there is the greateft variety of agriculture, almoft every 
kind of work is paid for by the piece or job. 

If moderate fkilful planters would fet down, and reduce into 
a table, the feveral rates of negro-labour, by the day, and a 
ftatute were enafted, that fhould give the flave, who had per- 
formed this tafk, the reft of his time to himfelf, or intitle him 
to wages for what he lliould do more than this ; and if all 
flaves were valued, and permitted by this their extra work 
gradually to buy out themfelves, or their time ; and if it were 
only provided, that after they became free, they fhould con- 
tinue to be employed about the bufinefs of a plantation ; in 
this fituation, planters might have the original coft of their 
flaves repaid them, and would ftill have the fame people to 


Conversion of African Slaves. 131 

refpeding both the mailer and the commu- 
nity. But it v/ill require new regulations, 
and the confent of government and people, 
to eftablifh the plan. What follows here 
has already the fancSion of law, and is now 
the practice, in proportion to the difcretion 
and fellow-feeling of the mafter. The in- 
fringement on that reft of the fabbath, 
which we wifh to vindicate for the Have, 

do their work better than at prefent, for food and raiment ; 
only fewer in number would anfwer their purpofe, and their 
intereft would not be aiFefted by any accident that befel them. 
The labourers, on the other hand, when their jobs were finifh- 
ed, would be their own matters, and be able to enjoy them- 
felves, and their families. They would feel an ambition to 
become worthy members of fociety, and to partake, with their 
former matters, now become their patrons and benefadlors, 
in the inftitutions of a religion, that confidered them all as 
equally the children of the fame benevolent Father. One im- 
mediate confequence of the relaxation of flavery, would be the 
introduction of ploughs, which have always anfwered where* 
ever they have been tried, and are only thrown afide, becaufe 
it is ealier for a manager to order out a flave with his hoe in 
his hand, than to yoke horfes or cattle in a plough. It is 
indeed a maxim, in carrying on all labour, never to do that 
by a man, that you can execute by a brute ; nor to do that by an 
anirnal, that you can make a mechanical inllrument perform. 
Thus all hand-hoe ploughing, except in particular cafes, 
would be cut off, and all cattle mills for grinding canes would 
be exchanged for water or wind-mills. This method of work- 
ing out freedom by labour is faid to be eftabliflied by a law iu 
the SpanifVi colonics, for the encouragement oftheir flaves. 

I 2 is 


2 On the Treatment and 

is an indecent breach, both of religion and 
law, while it counteracts, in no fmall degree, 
its own mean purpofe of accumulation. 
But fuch is the progreffive nature of the 
cravings of luxury and avarice, that if the 
cuftom once gets a footing, reafon in vain 
will folicit an hearing; and religion has lofl 
her influence, and law her authority, (hould 
they attempt to interpofe. Our only hope 
remains in being able to pre-occupy the 
judgment. As this refers to a particular 
event in one of our colonies, which is too 
likely to take place in others, the argu- 
ments are prefented to the public in their 
original drefs ; and thofe, who are beft ac- 
quainted with the treatment that flaves ufu- 
ally meet with, will be leaft apt to imagine 
that the author has been too full, or too 
warm on the fubjedt. 

An Addrefs to the Inhabitants of St. Chrif- 
topher's. Anno 1775, fliewing the Claim 
of Dependents to the Privilege of the 


Within thefe laft ten months, a cuftom has 
been introduced among you, of employing 


Conversion of African Slaves. 133 

ilaves in carrying on the ordinary plantation 
work on Sunday, of ploughing the ground, 
planting, v^^eeding, and grinding the cane, 
boiling the fugar, and diftilling the rum. 
It began on a particular plantation, and ha« 
found its way to each extremity of the illand. 
It is true, it is not yet become general, and 
many planters firmly exprefs their diflike of 
a practice, which, in itfelf impolitic and in- 
judicious, bids fair, if encouraged, to banifh 
humanity, and annihilate a religion that 
barely ftruggles for exiftence in our land. 
But bad examples are contagious; and feem- 
ing intereft in fome and emulation in others 
will go on, as they already have begun, to 
draw numbers into a cuftom that flatters in- 
duftry, and feeds the hopes of extravagance 
and avarice. 

No account of this fp reading violation of 
our laws and religion having yet been taken 
by the magiftracy, the trefpaffers are induced 
to believe that law cannot interpofe to check 
jt : a miflake which it is neceffary to corred: 
in men, who think nothing a crime but a 
deed for which law ordains a punifhment. 
As it fell to my lot to take the firft notice of 
this unhallowed pradlice, I have been obliged 

I 3 to 

i;^4 ^^ ^^^ Treatment and. 

to pay an attention to the fubje6t; and hence 
I am enabled to affure thefe trefpaffers, who 
wrap themfelves up in their impunity, that 
when the cafe is brought before a court, 
they will not find a lawyer, however pro- 
fligate his private charad:er may be, who 
will rifk his profeffional reputation by un- 
dertaking the defence of fo notorious a breach 
of human and divine laws : and could they 
find fuch a man, no judge or bench of ma- 
giftrates could allow him to plead againft the 
laws and religion of his country. Their 
defence muft be confined to a fingle denial of 
the fad:. 

If we view the matter in a religious light, 
the fabbath is appointed by God for fuch 
pious, humane, and even worldly- wife pur- 
pofes, as to lead us to conclude, that no- 
thing will more readily draw down judg- 
ments on, nor fooner execute the ruin of, 
a finful community, than a contempt of this 
benevolent inftitution. Sabbath-breaking 
makes a conflant capital figure among the 
crimes that kindled God's wrath againft the 
Jews. Farther, from God's ftrid; injundion 
to them, from whom we derive this inftitu- 
tiop, to punilTi, everi to defirrudion, any 


CeNVERsioN OF African Slaves, 135 

family or city that they fliould find guilty of 
idolatry among them, which was an offence 
fimply againft his authority; we may con- 
clude, that if a community fuffers an infult 
on this law of the fabbath, which has both his 
authority and general benevolence in view, 
to pafs unpunished, it will, by fuch its neg- 
led:, fubjedt to his wrath not only individuals 
that are a(flually guilty of the crime, but 
the magiftracy and people at large, who are 
thus carelefs of vindicating his honour and 
the claims of humanity. I will leave it to 
yourfelves, after what you have lately fuffered 
in your iins, to determine what need you 
have to give the Governor of the world this 
new provocation againft you. Woe be to 
that community v/hich forces the Deity 
to refume the vindication of his laws from 
the hands of the ordinary magiftrate. Un- 
diftinguifliing ruin will involve the luke- 
warm profeffor and hardy trefpaffer together. 
May Providence, by your reformation, avert 
the evil which every thinking man dreads on 
your account. To contribute to this end, and 
fet fuch right as have been unwittingly drawn 
into the practice, who yet have minds open 
to convidion, we fubmit to them the follow- 
ing confiderations : 

I 4 Tne 

136 On the Treatment and 

The good man, on the fabbath, interrupts 
his ufual employments, not only to have lei- 
fure to review his condud:, to improve hi^ 
mind for futurity, to reflect on, and blefs 
God for his mercies, but alfo for the fake of 
his dependents: they are indulged w^ith a 
refpite from labour, and a weekly feftival, 
which make fervitude tolerable. This com- 
paffion is followed by its proper reward. 
Continual toil would wear out the conftitu- 
tions of fervants long before their natural 
period of decay; but, during this day of reft, 
they renew their ftrength, and the hopes of 
its weekly return make them chearfully un- 
dergo their common labour. The ufeful ox 
repays the indulgence in patient enduring. 

Indeed, this day of reft, which God com- 
mands us to allow all whom he hath fub- 
mitted to our rule, is an acknowledgment, 
that he obligeth us to pay for the dominion 
he hath granted us over the lower world. 
And, therefore, though the promulgation 
and extent of this precept reft on the po- 
iitive command of God exprefted in fcripture, 
yet is the foundation moral : it is laid deep in 
the principles of humanity, grows up with 
obedience to our Creator, and fiouriftieth 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 137 

with equity and benevolence to our fellovt^- 
creatures. It is a mark of holding our power 
from God, a right referved to himfelf, to /hew 
his care of even the meaneft of his creatures. 
And it teacheth us, in a manner plain for 
him that runneth to read it, that we had not 
our prefent rank in the creation beftovved on 
us, to be the unfeeling tyrants, but the mer- 
ciful prote<ftors, of the inferior world. 

But as a contrary pradlice is nov/ introduced 
here, with a parade, indeed, of fuperior in- 
duftry, but a fovereign contempt of decency, 
common opinion, religion, and law; we mufl 
difcufs this point of indulgence to depend- 
ents, and fliew, (befides contradidting the 
motives above, which I hope have yet fome 
influence among mankind) that he, who falls 
into fo inconfiderate a pradiice, lins againfl 
prudence, and counteradis that aim after opu- 
lence, which can be the only pretence for fo 
extraordinary, fo alarming a condud:. In 
doing this, we need not enter into any nice 
phyfical difq-uiiition concerning the animal 
powers of the labouring part of the creation, 
nor into any train of reafoning, to ihew the 
neceffity of a frequent fucceffion of reft to 
labour to preferve the animal machine from 


138 On the Treatment and 

wearing out before the period fet by nature: 
wewill appeal to yourown experience, whether 
thofe men reap not the mofl lafting advan- 
tages from the labour of their oxen, their 
horfes, and that ftill more ufeful, though 
neglefted animal, called a negroe Have, who 
confult their feveral feelings, and give the 
fignal to ceafe from toil^ before the languid 
effort of wearinefs folicitsrefpite. Are they the 
moft fuccefsful in the field of induilry, or do 
they moft enjoy the evening of life, who con- 
ftantly put forth all their ftrength, who rife 
early, and late take reft; or they, who fo tem- 
per labour and reft, that each defires the 
return of the other. Look around among 
your neighbours, whofe Haves, whofe cattle, 
are the moft healthy, or exert the greateft 
vigour; who fuffers leaft by their mortality; 
who reaps moft from their labour ? Is it not 
he who encourages, favours, fpares them, 
who properly nouriflies them, and never en- 
croaches on the hour of food or reft ? Or can 
any temporary acquifition, v/rung from un- 
feafonable labour, compenfate for an hofpital 
filled with wretches dead or dying, for a 
crew of haggard, difeafed fpedires, whojfe 


Conversion of African Slaves. 139 

ruined constitutions, and famifhed looks, 
reproach the avarice of the hard-hearted 

Is it faid, in return, that the mafter buys 
this extraordinary labour, on Sunday, with 
an extraordinary price. Let me aik him, who 
gives this reafon, would he pufh a generous 
horfe, till the noble animal himfelf o-ave out 


And is he to care lefs for a creature of his 
own kind, becaufe anxious to recommend 
himfelf to his favour by a flrained exertion 
of his ftrength? The mafter, by the very 
tenure of his authority, is obliged to confult 
the conftitution of thofe who labour for him, 
that he may reftrain their efforts within their 
ability, and keep their fervice to him within 
the limits of their own perfonal happinefs. 
If, as fome pretend, it be meant to increafe 
the allowance of food, by this new cuftom 
of Sunday's wages, let them tell why, till 
now, they have provided fo fcantily for their 
Haves, as to make this addition necelTary; 
or let them give a good reafon why a wretch 
who drudges the fix days for another man's 
luxury, fhould not eat plentifully, and have 
the feventh alfo for a day of refl. 


140 On the Treatment and 

If the planter fay s^ he only bribes other mens 
flaves into his Sunday's fervice, let him go to 
his neighbour, and afk him for the ufe of his 
cattle, during the hours allotted for food and 
reft, and report his anfwerj or let him at- 
tempt to take them away, and work them 
clandeftinely, and fee whether they will not 
be reclaimed. And fhall a confiderate mafter, 
who works his ilaves to their full ability; 
and who, it fhould be prefumed, feeds them 
properly, fuffer them to wear their ftrength 
out in another man's fervice for a little 
paultry hire, that ought not to be neceflary 
for them^ Or, if he did, could he exped: 
them to exert themfelves with vigour for him 
in the week, when their ftrength has been 
worn down in his neighbour's fervice on 
Sunday, and they have not had time to re- 
cruit it? God, who beft knows the confti- 
tution of his creatures, and formed them ex- 
prefsly for labour, hath allotted for reft- not 
only the nightly fucceftion of darknefs and 
weekly return of the fabbath, but has divided 
every lingle day into ftiort intervals of labour 
and reft, by making a frequent repetition of 
food neceflary for recruiting and refrediing 
the body. And fhall we pretend to be wifer 


Conversion of African Slaves. 141 

than he is, or to know better what the ani- 
mal conftitution is capable of performing ? 

One reafon is given for this cuftom, which 
puts the obfervation of Sunday as a day of 
reft, on plantations, wholly in the overfeers 
power : if a Have behaves to the fatisfadiion 
of the overfeer throughout the week, he is 
to be indulged with Sunday, if not he fhali 
work there on his mafter's field. And this 
humane reafon is added, that the common 
punifhment of withholding their ufual allow- 
ance of food is injudicious, and therefore 
working on Sunday is fubflituted for it. I 
am ready to give up the propriety of ftarving 
men as a mode of punifhment. But is not 
the obliging them to work on Sundays alfo to 
jRiarve them^ feeing, in the prefent pinched 
method of feeding them, every Have is forced 
to eke out his portion with his private Sundays 
labour ? And doth not this extraordinary 
labour on Sunday a6l as a farther lefTening of 
their allowance, by wearing out their ftrength 
in toiling on the day in which they fhould 
have had leifure to'recruit it after the week's 
labour, while the means of acquiring food 
by private labour to repair this extraordinary 
wafte are withheld from them. 


142 On the Treatment and 

But we give Sunday, as a day of reft to our 
flaves, in obedience to the command of our 
common Father. And nothing but a duty, 
fuperior in its confequences, and immediate 
in its call, or an unforefeen opportunity of 
doing an ad: of benevolence can fet it afide. 
Now as a duty owing immediately to God, 
it cannot be affeded by any pretended intereft 
of our own, or demerit on our fervants part. 
Are God's laws to be fo little efteemed of, 
that every unthinking boy, fet over a few 
helplefs wretches, with a whip in his hand, 
may annul them at pleafure ? Shall he, to 
punifh a trifling offence againfl the plan- 
tation difcipline, too frequently exifling 
only in his own mifappreheniion or neglect, 
be allowed to make havock of the laws of re- 
ligion and his own duty to God? Unhappy 
age into which we are fallen, when, leaving 
the plain road of obedience, we fet up to 
reform the laws and religion, not of our 
country only, but of our God ! 

It is fuggefled further, that in crop time, 
in particular quarters, the ripe canes are fo 
apt to become tainted, that it is a work of 
neceffity to grind them off on Sunday. To 
this we anfwer, *' The God of feafons en- 

Conversion of African Slaves. 143 

joined the obfervation of the fabbath, and 
his laws are ultimately for the benefit of the 
obedient." The circumftance here pleaded 
may be intended for an exercife of our trufl 
in his Providence, but can never come under 
the defcription of thofe works of neceffity 
or mercy, that are not only proper, but com- 
mendable on Sunday. Sagacity may forefee, 
prudence may provide for fuch accidents ; 
method and good ufage may, and where ufed, 
acftually do, increafe the tale of labour, oh 
common days, far beyond what is forced out 
on this day appointed for reft. And were 
not this, v/hich yet may be, in every cafe, 
tj-ue, yet God's veracity and providence are 
engaged that his fervants fhould not ulti- 
mately fuiter by their obedience. But, as we 
have remarked, and fliall further prove, the 
truth is, this continued toil over-ad:s the 
purpofe of induftry, without fuppofing God, 
in his Providence, to puniih the infult done 
to his laws and religion. 

One reafon is given for this pracflice, that 
carries a face of concern for religion, bat is 
fufficiently abfurd, and felfifh in the appli- 
cation. ** Slaves cannot keep the fabbath as 
Chrifciansj and if not employed for their 
m mafters. 

144 ^^ '^^^ Treatment ano 

maflcrs, will labour for themfelves," Now 
the trifling Sundays works, in their own 
grounds, v/hich an injudicious cuftom has 
permitted, and their fcanty allowance of 
food has made necelTary, is done in fuch 
manner and circumflances, as rhakes it more 
an amufement than a labour; nor can it be 
compared with toiling in their mafter's field 
under the whip of an overfecr. But I can 
recoiled: a particular plantation, where the 
manager, fome years ago, with a goed inten- 
tion, made the Haves exert themfelves on 
Sundays, as much in their own ground, as in 
their mafter's fields, throughout the week; 
and the confequence was, that from this in- 
cefTant fatigue, the plantation required a 
yearly fupply of flaves, above a tenth part 
of the whole number maintained. Since 
they have been left to their own inclinations 
on Sundays, they have been moil remarkably 
healthy; nor, I believe, had or needed a 
recruit thefe lafl fixteen years. The planta- 
tion is particularly well fupplied with pro- 
vifions; and the flaves have been treated with 
peculiar humanity and method. 

But if flaves do not hallow the fabbath in 
a rational manner, cannot their mafters and 


Conversion of African Slaves. 145 

overfeers, by their own behaviour, fandlify it. 
And, furely to overlook what you cannot 
prevent in another, differs widely from the 
commanding of him to commit a crime, of 
which you mean to reap the advantage. 
That Haves cannot rationally keep the fab- 
bath is matter of ferious concern. I pray God 
we may not all be made accountable for it. 
Still allow this argument what weight you 
pleafe ; God is the God of the bodies as well 
as of the fouls of his creatures, and he wills 
and attends equally to the welfare of both; 
and the fabbath is intended to refrefh the one, 
and improve the other. Oxen and horfes can- 
not keep a Chriftian fabbath; yet, their 
Creator refpefts their eafe, and, among other 
purpofes, appointed the fabbath exprefsly to 
favour it. And, furely, God doth not Icfs 
regard the bodily fenfations of human 
wretches, becaufe in his Providence, forbid- 
den yet certainly wife purpofes, he hath 
hitherto fuifered them to be immediately.fub- 
jested to the caprice, the avarice, the crueltyof 
their fellows, though endued with keener feel- 
ings than the brutes, and greater feniibility of 
their claims. Farther, God accepts favourably 
what fervice and thanks his creatures are able 

K to 

146 On the Treatment and 

to pay himj and the fimple rude way in 
which negroes, in their Sunday's amufements, 
exprefs their fatisfad:ion in his difpenfations, 
will not be rejeded, but be received with 
approbation and condefcenlion to their weak- 

When we have made every allowance 
that charity or conlideration can fuggeft, no 
man acquainted with the ufual progrefs of 
human affairs, and the conftant tendency of 
cuflom, but muft fee, in this unhallowed, 
hired, Sunday's labour, the haftening aboli- 
tion of refpedt to that day, and of extraor- 
dinary hire for working on it. Poverty is 
craving; avarice infatiable^ luxury boundlefs. 
And were Sunday once melted down into the 
week, men would try v/hat more could be 
cut off from the darknefs, and folitude, and 
reft of night. 

But without taking into account the inhu- 
manity, the immorality, the imprudence, 
the irreligion of the practice ; what impu- 
dence, refpedling fociety, doth it imply, 
when thus a private man fets his felfifh opi- 
nion up againft the laws of his country, and 
dares to infult them publickly, by adling in 
dired oppofition to an exprefs ftatute? How 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 147 

pregnant in ill confequences muft the ex- 
ample be, in a community w^here cullom has 
reduced almofl the whole of an eftablifhed 
religion to bodily reft on the fabbath ? Piety, 
foon, will not have a fingle thread of com- 
munication by which to lay hold on our 
pradice. How necelTary, therefore, to fix a 
mark on fuch profane condudl, before cuftom 
has ftamped a fafhion on it, and fancflified it? 
And often, for what is humanity, religion 
and law thus wounded? To anfwer the de- 
mands of extravagance, to fill the bags of 
avarice, to fupply the funds of luxury. 
Slavery, in its mildeft fhape, has fomething 
dangerous and threatening to virtue; but 
when the very marrow and blood of our fel- 
low creatures are exhaufted in the cruel 
fervice of avarice or fenfuality, the equal 
Father of all muft call in fome dreadful ven- 
geance to punifh the abufe. 

I mean not fo much to reile(5r on indivi- 
duals, who may already be guilty of this 
unfeeling, imprudent practice, as to exalt to 
its proper motives of religion, benevolence, 
and obedience to your country's laws, that 
abhorrence which hath been entertained 
againft an a(flion that is an outrage to com- 
mon fenfe, and common opinion; and which, 

K 2 v/e 

148 On the Treatment and 

we are taught in fcripture, never fails to draw 
down God's wrath on the people who permit 
it to be done with impunity among them. 
It is an offence, which, if not checked in its 
progrefs, may renew thofe judgments that 
for our fins were lately poured out on usi 
under which we now, and long muft con- 
tinue to fmart; without provoking farther 
God's vengeance, or obliging him to fend 
new or extraordinary punifliments to chaf- 
tife or reclaim us.* Could I keep you from 
the contagion of example, I fhould rejoice^ 
Whoever has thus finned againft God, and his 
country, fhall have my prayers, that he may 
be infpired with a right way of thinking. 
Of this be affured, that fuch an extraordi-^ 
nary mode of induftry is not the path in 
which God's blefilngs are to be met with. 
And they who ufe it have reafon to fear, 
left a diftrefsful turn in their affairs make 
this day of liberty and reft, which they want 
to cut off from fociety, the only day in 
which they dare to enjoy their freedom. -f* 

* Since this period this colony has been greatly reduced by 
fire, floods, war, capture by the enemy, and fuch unfavourable 
feafons, as had hardly happened before in the memory of man. 

f Itis certain, that he who began this cuftom, within twelve 
months durft not on any other day fliew his face for fear of 
his creditors. 



But if God did not, as certainly he doth, 
mix therewith a fecret canker, to eat up the 
fubftance of the offender, yet the unfeeling, 
hurrying mode of thus working flavcs, 
would, by wafting their ftrength and health, 
be of itfelf fufficient punifhment. And, 
fuppoiing the obfervation of the fabbath to 
depend wholly for its fand:ion on revelation, 
and the breach of it to be followed by no 
natural lofs, which is far from the truth; 
yet, if you be diligent and obedient to the 
law, for God's fake, he can, in his Pro- 
vidence, and will, in a thoufand ways, make 
up any imaginary facrifice of time and profit 
to a truft in his word, and will proceed in 
an inconceivable manner to blefs and profper 

I fhall conclude with an obfervation drawn 
from mechanics, Though a man of ordi^ 
nary ilrength can raife, at a fingle effort, 
a much greater weight, yet the moft ad- 
vantageous exertion of it is within thirty 
pounds weight; and he, who works diligently 
eight hours a day, will do more work in a 
week, than he who drawls out in languid ejqr 
f.rtions fourteen hours. 

K 3 CHAP, 

( 15° ) 


The Advancement of Slaves muft accompany 
their religious Infl:ru6:ion. 

I SHALL confider the advantage of pro- 
moting ilaves in focial life, as proved 
beyond a poffibility of contradi(5tion j but, as 
my particular aim is to get religion extended 
to them, I mufi: ihew that there is a con- 
nexion between focial privileges and religious 
inflrudioni and that the making of a pro- 
grefs in either requires them to go hand in 
hand, and influence each other. That men 
were intended both for fociety and religion, 
and that thefe tv^^o meant to fupport each 
other, is a conclulion to be drawn from every 
circumflance that refpefts our powers and 
conftitution. The helplefs ftate of infancy, 
the variety and inequality of our faculties, 
all attach us to a particular community, fit 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 151 

us for our various ftations in it, and give 
it an indiffoluble claim to our fervice and af- 
fiftance. And religion brings confcience in to 
the aid of focial regulations, and fits the man 
for adiing his part in his proper ftation. 

Religion has a two-fold purpofe: man*s 
ultimate fate as an individual, and his con- 
dud; as a member of fociety. Man, in order 
to become a good member of fociety, mufl 
be infpired w^ith religious principles; that 
he may not countera6l the common views, 
out of fecret fi'aud, malice, or felfifhnefs, 
but be carried on to every generous exertion 
by which the public happinefs can be effed:ed. 
Religion, then, mufl: enter into every plan 
that has the general good or profit in view. 
As far, therefore, as we refpedt the profperity 
of our country, we muil wifli to extend the 
influence of religion to all thofe who are 
comprehended within her laws. But, as 
Chriftians, we have flill a ftronger principle 
of adlion to excite us to exert ourfelves in 
enlarging the empire of religion by every 
benevolent method within our power. Re- 
ligion determines the future lot of the 
individual, and the grand principle of be- 
nevolence that runs through it, makes 
his happinefs depend on his doing all 

K 4 the 

152 On the Treatment and 

the good in his power here to his brethren 
around him. But the inftrudtian of our ne- 
groe flaves is an adt of goodnefs of the high- 
eft and moft extenfive nature : and the cir- 
cumftances of our having originally inflaved 
them, of their living intirely for, and de- 
pending on us, and too frequently being op- 
preiTed and cruelly treated by individuals 
among us, gives them the ftrongeft claim for 
receiving it at our hands. The privileges of 
Chriilianity are of a diffufive nature, and 
have this condition among others annexed, 
that we fhall communicate them ; freely 
we have received, freely we mull give. And, 
in a cafe where none within our reach are to 
be excepted from iharing in the benefit, how 
highly incumbent is it on us to exalt to rea- 
fon and religion thofe whom our avarice has 
deprelTed, even to brutality. 

But, becaufe, in the demand of duty we 
are often deiirous of compounding matters, 
and in the prefent cafe, probably, may ima- 
gine that the higheft purpofes of religion may 
be gained without fuch an alteration in the 
condition of Haves, as while it refts on fpecula- 
tive arguments, may be thought fomewhat 
4angeroi|S; it will be neceifary to fhew, that, 
as the opprelfed fituation of negroe flaves 


Conversion of African Slaves. 153 

prevents the community from reaping many 
important advantages from them, fo it inca- 
pacitates them from making, in any con- 
liderable degree, a progrefs in religious 
knowledge. To make a man capable of reli- 
gion, we muft endow him with the rights 
and privileges of a man j we muft teach him 
to feel his weight in fociety, and fet a value 
on himfelf, as a member of the community, 
before we can attempt to perfuade him to 
lay in his claim to heaven. To fhew the 
reader, therefore, the neceffity of advancing 
the flave, in the fcale of focial life, before we 
offer him a participation of our religion^ 
I fhall relate the little efficacy of fuch at- 
tempts as have been made to communicate 
religious knowledge to him in his hitherto 
debafed ftate. And if fuch a communication 
be, as I have affirmed, not only a valuable 
but an indifpenfable objedt to fociety, I 
ffiall, in doing this, eftablifh the neceffity of 
improving his condition in focial life. 


Examples of the Difficulty found in inflirudl:- 
ing Slaves in their prefent State. 

I am forry to be obliged to remark how 
little, till within thefe very few years, has 


1^4 On the Treatment and 

been attempted or propofed on this head. 
For though the race of authors and projec- 
tors equal the leaves of the trees as much 
in their numbers, as they refemble them in 
the fhortnefs of their exiftence ; yet, unlefs 
we take into account a few unconned:ed at- 
tempts, a few general ftridtures, and fome 
unmeaning declamations, our Haves had 
hardly found a protetor worthy of the ap- 
pellation, till the publication of the late 
Hiflory of Jamaica ^ and the vindication they 
have found in it, as we fhall have occafion to 
remark, is on fuch humiliating terms, as will, 
I fear, do them little good. Still the nature 
and ilfue of thefe attempts to inftrud: and 
ferve them in their prefent oppreffed ftatc, 
will be fufficient to mark that improbability 
of fuccefs which we have affirmed. 

Robertfon, a minifter in Nevis, about fif- 
ty years ago, wrote profelTedly on the con- 
verlion of Haves in our colonies, and feems 
to have been willing to have laboured ho- 
neftly in it himfelf. But it is to be remarked 
of him, that he takes no notice of the in- 
tire want of law to fecure to them proper 
treatment, nor fo much aa hints that this want 
is of any difadvantage to them. And, in refpedt 
pf their converiion, he plainly fhews that no- 

Conversion OF African Slaves. 155 

thing confiderable can be done in it, unlefs 
government interpofe in earnefl to carry it on. 
But before government can meddle with 
flaves, it muft take them iirft Vv^ithin the 
bofom of fociety, advance their condition, 
protect in them the claims of human nature, 
and make them objedls of police. 

He propofes that government fhould keep 
up a number of mifiionaries among the colo- 
nies, by rotation, whofe whole employment 
fhould be -to inflrud: the flaves, as fail as they 
acquired the language, or grew up to be 
capable of inftrudtion. Their only reward, 
he thinks, fhould be a prefent maintenance, 
and a promife of being provided for at 
home, when the time of their mifiion was 
expired. In this plan, the reader will im- 
mediately obferve, that the miffionary will 
require fome time to gain a facility in teach- 
ing, and that, if he returns home after a few 
years, he mud: relign to others his ftation, 
when he is become fit to hold it. The time 
of his employment will, therefore, require 
to be regulated in a particular manner to ob- 
viate this inconveniency. 

He earneftly endeavours to exculpate the 
planters for having done fo little in this affair, 
from their hurry of bufinefs, their own ig- 

156 On the Treatment and 

norance, their inability in point of fortune. 
He farther attempts to prove, that negroes, 
in general, are ill adapted for inftruftion, 
by reafon of their fulkinefs, ftupidity, pre- 
judices; in many, an incapacity of making 
any tolerable progrefs in the language ; and, 
laftly, the univerfal carelelTnefs that prevails 
among them about every thing that does not 
ftrike their fenfes. 

In (hort, from his obfervations, a man 
would be apt to conclude, that he was of 
opinion that the manufad:ure of fugar, and 
the pradlice of religion, were things incom- 
patible; and that before we began to de- 
liberate about the converiion of Haves, the 
previous quellion had need to be difculTed, 
whether we fhould maintain this manufacture, 
or apply ourfelves to promote the growth of 
Chriilianity. But whatever may be the in- 
trinfic merit of his plan, it has been too long 
before the public unnoticed, for us to ex- 
pert much from it at this day. 

A planter of , a man of educa- 

tion, and of a religious turn of mind, about 
twenty-four years ago attempted the conver- 
iion of his own ilaves. He himfelf became 
their catechift and preacher. He increafecj 


Conversion of African Slaves. 157 

their allowance of food, clothed them de- 
cently, treated them vv^ith humanity, tried 
to reafon rather than whip them out of 
their faults, and granted them many indul- 
gencies in the hours and degrees of their 
labour. He purfued his plan during a good 
many years, and, as was faid, at iirft with 
fome degree of fuccefs : but fome time be- 
fore his death, according to the author's in- 
formation, he gave up the defign, in defpair 
of effedting any thing confiderable by it. 
The caufes of his ill fuccefs, that have been 
alligned, were a relaxation of difcipline re- 
fped:ing their obedience and labour, for 
which they were not ripe; and his infilling 
on too accurate an obfervation of the fab- 
bath, in the manner of the Jews, while they 
had no mental employment to fubftitute oh 
it for their ufual private labour, and focial 
amufements. In fliort, the indulgencies that 
fhould have been tht reward of improvement 
and good behaviour, were made to precede 
them; and there was nothing left to allure 
them, or encourage them in the work. But, 
fince his death, feveral of his people have 
joined themfelves to the Moravians, who 
have a miflion in the colony. 

A con- 

ij;8 On the Treatment and 

A confiderable number of years ago, the 
abfent owner of a plantation fent out pofi- 
tive ilanding inftrudiions to his manager, to 
have his flaves carefully inilru(5ted in the 
Chriilian religion, and baptized. He ac- 
companied this order with directions to treat 
them in every refped: with conliderate hu- 
manity, and to do for them whatever was 
poilible to make their fliate eafy, and their 
lives happy. The minifter of the parifh ac- 
cordingly was applied to, and a recompence 
for his trouble was agreed on. Here then 
was a profped; of a fair trial of what could 
poffibly be effed;ed among Haves in their pre- 
fent ftate; but the manager's injudicious 
choice of an inftrudor blafled every rea- 
fonable expedlation. The minifler was not 
even oftenfibly decent, and never afFedled to 
be guided by principles of duty that he did 
not feel. He faw nothing in the propofal 
but an increafe of income to himfelf, and 
was determined to intitle himfelf to it in 
the ealieft manner poffible. The following 
was his method : 

He came to the plantation on a Sunday 
afternoon, and defired the manager to coi- 
led eight or ten flaves to be baptized. They. 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 159 

were brought before him. He began to repeat 
the office of baptifm. When he had read as 
far as that part of the fervice w^here he was to 
fprinkle them with water, if their former name 
pleafed him he baptized them by it ; but if 
he thought it not fit to call a Chriftian by, as 
was his opinion of Quamina, Bungee, and the 
like, he gave them the firft Chriftian name 
which occured to his memory. This name 
the bearer, perhaps, could not repeat, and 
fcarcely ever remembered afterwards j fo that 
he continued to be diftinguiflied among his 
fellows by his old heathen name. 

The minifter, being once afked, what end 
he propofed in performing the ceremony in 
this fuperficial manner ? frankly replied, 
** He was paid for doing it; it did the crea- 
*' tures no harm; and when they died, he 
** fliould be paid for burying them." Accord- 
ingly the manager compounded the matter 
with him, and gave him yearly a caik of 
rum worth about £ 8 flerling, in lieu of fur- 
plice fees due for burying them. He had 
alfo a falary of /20 for vifiting and praying 
with the fick, which, without being earned, 
he pundtually received. For the baptifms, he 
was paid a certain fum. 


i6o On the Treatment and 

Some of the baptized would mutter, and 
fay, they defired not the parfon to throw 
water in their face; which is all that they 
knew of the matter, and therefore were loth 
to fufFer themfelves to be fo dealt with. 
In fhort, if merely the making of them parties 
to a rite that they underftand not, and in 
which they take no adive or rational fhare, 
doth initiate them into Chrift's church, then 
are they right good Chriflians. But if fome 
fhare of knowledge, if fome degree of af- 
fent be neceffary to give the minifter's con- 
ning over the office of baptifm before them, 
fome religious effedt among them, thefe 
(laves can pretend to little Chriflianity. 
For here the plea of infant- baptifm cannot 
be admitted, becaufe neither non-age nor 
after- inftrudion can be pretended. In this 
manner was unfufpeding piety impofed on, 
and fuch formerly were the minifters recom- 
mended for the colonies 


Conversion of African Slaves. i6i 


The Obftacles that the Moravian Miilions 
have to fhruggle with. 

The Moravians fhew a remarkable and 
laudable degree of affiduity in making con- 
verts ; and, taking their difficulties into ac- 
count, they have had, on the v^^hole, no in- 
confiderable fuccefs. Their difciples in 
Antigua are about two thoufand in numberj 
the fruits of twenty years labour. Several 
planters encourage their endeavours among 
their people. But fome years ago they re- 
ceived a rude fhock from an attempt of a 
particular mafler to intrude on them Mr. 
Lindfay's tenets, which required their own 
lirmnefs, and the aifecflion of their 
converts to defeat. There are ufualjy three 
miffionaries. They have introduced decency 
and fobriety among their people, and no 
mean degree of religious knowledge. They 
have infant miffions in Barbadoes, St. Chrif- 
topher's, and Jamaica. -)- 

f Everything here faid concerning the fuccefs of the Mora- 
vians, and the good efFefts of it upon the flaves in Antigua, 
has been lately confirmed to me by a gentleman who has fpent 
many years in that ifland. But he adds, that the number of 
iiegroe converts, inllead of 2000, is upwards of 6000. 

L They 

i62 On the Treatment and 

They have made the greateft progrefs lit 
the Danifh colonies. In St. Croix they 
have fixed a bifliop, with feveral minifters 
and catechifts under him. They have chapels 
in the different quarters of the ifland. Many 
gentlemen have private chapels for their 
ufe, and encourage them in their labours. 
Government countenances them^ but the 
Danifh clergymen in the ifland do not favour 
or affift them. 

Every evening, except on Saturday, they 
have diftind: meetings, by turns, for their 
baptized and catechumens. Their hour of 
general worlhip is on Sunday evening; the 
ilaves being obliged to labour on that day 
for their fubfiflence. The converts are 
taught to ufe private devotions. When they 
go to, and leave off w^ork, they fing in con- 
cert a few hymns drawn up in the common 
language. Singing makes a confiderable part 
of their common worihip. 

The mofl: fenfible, of both fexes, are raifed 
to the dignity of elders or helpers, to fuper- 
intend each the behaviour of their fex, and to 
forward the work of inftruftion. When a 
brother commits a fault, he is mildly re- 
proved in private, or if it be of a public 
nature^ before the congregation : if he ob- 


Conversion of African Slaves. 163 

ftinately perfills in the fault, he is, for a 
time, deprived of the eucharift, or feparated 
from the congregation. This difcipline fel- 
dom fails to produce repentance, on v^hich 
he is readily re-admitted to the privileges of 
the fociety. 

In bringing them on in religious know- 
ledge, they begin by drawing their attention 
particularly to the fufferings and crucifixion 
of our Saviour. When this is found to have 
made an impreflion on their minds, and 
filled their hearts with grateful fentiments, 
they then make them connect it with re- 
pentance and a good life. Submiffion to their 
mafliers, and full obedience to their com- 
mands, even to working in the plantation, 
when fo ordered, on Sundays, are flrongly 
inforced; or rather, they imprefs on them the 
neceflity of fubmitting to thofe irregularities 
which, in their ftate of fubjed:ion, they can- 
not avoid, that their mafters may have no 
complaint againft them, while labouring to 
gain the great point of general improve- 
ment. Their greatefl trouble arifes from the 
libidinous behaviour of overfeers among the 
female difciples, which, however, fome 
mafters check as much as lies in their power. 

L 2 The 

164 On the Treatment and 

The great fecret of the miffionary's ma- 
nagement, belides foliciting the grateful at- 
tention of their hearers to our Saviour's fuf- 
ferings, is to contract an intimacy with them, 
to enter into their little intereils, to hear 
patiently their doubts and complaints, to 
condefcend to their weaknefs and ignorance, 
to lead them on llowly and gently, to exhort 
them aiFedionately, to avoid carefully magif- 
terial threatenings and commands. 

The confequences of this method are ob- 
ferved to be a confiderable degree of reli- 
gious knov^ledge, an orderly behaviour, a 
neatnefs in their perfons and clothing, a 
fobriety in their carriage, a fenlibility in 
their manner, a diligence and faithfulnefs in 
their ftations, induilry and method in their 
own little matters, an humility and piety 
in their converfation, an univerfal unim- 
peached honefly in their conduct. 

The brethren in Europe are at the expence 
of the miffionary's journeys, and contribute 
to their maintenance. They have a fmall 
plantation in one of the Danifli illands, from 
which they draw part of their fupport. 
Some of the miffionaries, at their leifure 
hours, apply to mechanic employments. 


Conversion of African Slaves. 165 

The reft of their fimple maintenance arifes 
from trifling voluntary colledions among 
their difciples. Some of them are men of 
learning, others Ample well-meaning men. 
Their bifhop is a man of plain good fcnfQ and 

This account of the Moravians appears, 
at firfl: fight, to contradid: my pofition, that 
the prefent debafed ftate of flaves favours not 
religious improvement. The circumfliances 
in their favour are, that they are feen by their 
fcholars only as inflruftors or comforters; 
that they try to lofe fight of flavery and its 
confequences, and fliew their converts to 
themfelves only in the light of a religious 
fociety; that, as far as the limplicity of 
their rites will permit, they draw imagina- 
tion to their affiflance, and paint religion 
almoil: in fenfible colours. 

But it may be obferved, that the authority 
of the mafter which they mufl inforce, and the 
law of God, which they profefs to teach, mufi: 
often draw the hefitating flave different ways, 
and fill his mind with doubt, which of the 
two is to be obeyed. God fets apart the fabbath 
to recruit the body for labour, and improve 
the mind for futurity; the mafler, having 

L 3 feized 

i66 On the Treatment and 

fei^ed for himfelf the work for the week^ 
obliges the flave to toil on that day for his 
own maintenance; nay, not unfrequently for 
his (the mailer's) avarice. Doubtlefs, how- 
ever it may fare with the profane mailer, the 
fate of the ilave himfelf is in the beit hands ; 
but he can acquire only an inferior kind of 
religion, and he muft hold even that at the 
caprice of one who, in himfelf, perhaps has 
no religion. A mitigation therefore of their 
llavery, and a communication of fome fecial 
privileges, are ilill a neceifary foundation for 
any eminent degree of religious improvement. 


InefHcacy of the Author's private Attempts to 
inflrucfl Slaves. 

Though fome individuals may treat their 
ilaves with humanity and difcretion, yet we 
can give very few inilances of any atten- 
tion ihewn to their moral improvement ^ or of 
any pains taken to enable them to become 
partakers of the gofpel promifes. Religion is 
not deemed neceffary to qualify a ilave to an- 
fwer any purpofe of fervitude^ and while we 
wiih them to be diligent and faithful, we never 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 167 

think of placing a monitor within their 
breafts, nor of dired:ing them to look up to 
God, as the obferver or rew^arder of inte- 
grity. Indeed, in the relation of mafter 
and ilave, there is fo little of what is reci- 
procal in the duty on one fide and advantage 
on the other, that it is hardly poffible to 
infufe any other principle than fear into the 
mind of a Have, or to make him conlider 
himfeif in any other light than that of an 
unwilling inftrument of his mailer's tyranny 
and grandeur : a condition that leaves him at 
liberty to feize every opportunity of making 
his fervice of as little ufe as he can to his 
mailer, and of making up for the pinching 
ill treatment that he receives from him, by 
pilfering and purloining whatever lies open 
to him. 

When the author iiril fettled in the Weil- 
Indies, he freely and openly blamed the 
careleiTnefs of the inhabitants in a matter of 
this importance, and he refolved within him- 
feif to ihew how much might be done by 
one who was in earneil. His ilaves were well 
clothed and plentifully fed; their employ- 
ment, which was only the common work of 
^ private family, was barely fufhcient for the 

L 4 exercife 

i68 On the Treatment and 

exercife neceflary to preferve their health. 
There was more than a fufficient number of 
them. In ihort, they were plump, healthy, 
and in fpirits. In the evening they were 
called in, and made to repeat the creed, the 
Lord's prayer, and a few other prayers that 
were reckoned beft adapted to them. Their 
duty was explained to them in terms let 
down, as much as poffible, to their appre- 
henfion. Their fears, their hopes, their 
gratitude, were all made to intereft them- 
felves in the fubjeft. They were not punifh- 
ed for one fault in ten that they committed, 
and never with feverity. They were carefully 
attended when fiek. Nothing was at any time 
required of them but what was neceifary, 
and much within their ability. But the 
treatment may be collefted from this cir- 
cumftance; that in eighteen years, though 
they had been gradually increaiing by births 
and purchafe from ten to twenty in number, 
not one had died in his family, except infants 
during the period of nurfing. In other re- 
fped:s he cannot boaft greatly of his fuccefs. 
The firil flave he pofTeiTed was a French 
negroe boy, who could tell his beads, and 
repeat his Pater-nofter. He was placed out 


Conversion of African Slaves. 169 

in tov^n with a barber: there he formed fuch 
acquaintances, and acquired fuch habits of 
idlenefs, as made him a moft irreclaimable 
run-a-wayj and forced his mafter to difpofe 
of him at a lofs of twenty-four pounds 
iierling. He hired a fenfible, induitrious, 
elderly negroe, who feemed well pleafed 
with his fituation, till he found that he was 
obliged to attend in the evening at prayers. 
He plainly faid, he did not love fuch things, 
and that he, a negroe, had nothing to do 
with the prayers of white people; and, in 
a fhort time, he left his place without af- 
iigning any other reafon. 

He has been obliged to fend three negroes 
off the iiland for theft and running away, 
that he might not be under the neceffity of 
punifhing with feverity« One of them, a 
fenfible accomplifhed negrefs, was returned 
on his hands from the Danifli ifland of St. 
Croix, for being fuch a thief, that no body 
would venture to take her into their family. 
Her own account was different. She had 
been returned by him, to whom fhe had 
been fent down, becaufe his favourite Sul- 
tana had become jealous of her attractions. 
To the accufations of theft, ilie replied, 


lyo On the Treatment and 

that whatever fhe might formerly have done 
in her mailer's family, ihe knev^ better than 
to ileal in an ifland, v^here, for taking the 
leafl: trifle, fhe might, without noife, have 
been taken up, and executed immediately. 
She concluded, that her being fent back alive 
was a demonftration of her not having been 
guilty of theft during her exile. He was 
obliged to affe<5t a fatisfaftion in her defence. 
And, though by no means faultlefs, ytt^ 
either from partial reformation, (for fhe was 
very capable of reafoning) or an unwilling- 
nefs to make another trip from her native 
country, fhe continued to behave more care- 
fully and attentively in the family 5 and at 
lafl became fo induflrious as to be able to 
buy out her own, and a daughter's freedom, 
that fhe had by a free-man. But he polTefTed 
not a fingle flave on whom he could place de- 
pendence. And, had it not been for a white 
woman, whofe employment was to watch 
them, and whofe care he ufed, as others do 
correction, to keep them from difhonefly, 
he would have been at a lofs how to have 
carried on houfe-keeping, without a degree 
of feverity abhorrent to his temper. N0W5 
while they continued abandoned, irre- 

Conversion of African Slaves. 171 

claimable, and infenfible of good treatment, 
they could be very little difpofed to become 

From this unfavourable view of his Haves, 
it mufl; not be concluded, that all are ab- 
folutely worthlefs. You often meet with 
a flave attached to his maimer's interefl, 
and in moft refpeds truft-worthy. The 
author knows fome that would not lofe, on 
comparifon, with the moil circumfped and 
faithful fervants in Britain. Slaves, indeed, 
are frequently attached to the perfons of 
their mailers, and v/ill rilk their lives readily 
for them, who yet make very free with their 
property. To fpeak generally, thofe mailers 
are beil ferved, who feed and clothe their 
Haves well, who are themfelves methodical 
in their buiinefs, and never take notice of a 
fault in them uniefs they mean to corred: 
them fmartly for it. T^hey are /// ferved, who 
are carelefs in their manner, indifferent how 
they are treated, averfe to or irregular in 
their method of chaltifement. And can any 
behaviour different from this be expedted in 
creatures, whofe only motive of action is 
prefent feeling, who have no reputation to 
fupport, no lafling intcreft to care for ? 


172 On the Treatment and 

The author is fenfible that his want of 
fuccefs was, in a certain degree, owing to a 
want of ftridnefs in the method of treating 
his Haves, adapted to their prefent debafed 
ilate. And this arofe equally from his want of 
refolution to perfevere in the difagreeable 
work, and from the fituation of his family, a 
private one, not methodically and conllantly 
employed in particular bulinefs. This cir- 
cumftance rendered it incapable of being 
regulated with the accuracy of a plantation, 
where every hour has its employment, and 
every piece of work its overfeer. Nor are any 
families among us fo well regulated as thofe 
conneded with plantations, where method 
in corredlion and work makes fome amends 
for the want of principle in our manner of 
managing Haves. This, at iirft view, may 
appear harfh to the humane and pious; but 
it is not, therefore, the lefs a true pidure of 
human nature; nor, to thofe who are ac- 
quainted with the neceffityand efFed:s of dif- 
cipline in our army and navy, will it refled: 
any particular difgrace on the natural biafs 
or capacity of Africans. Human nature, 
where-ever found in the fame debafed flate, 
would fliew itfelf in the fame worthlefs 


Conversion of African Slaves. 173 

manner. Nor is it an argument for ftraiten- 
ing, but for relaxing, and at laft entirely 
breaking, the chain of flavery. 

Mafter and flave are in every refpedl oppo- 
fite terms ; the perfons to whom they are 
applied, are natural enemies to each other. 
Slavery, in the manner and degree that it 
exifts in our colonics, could never have been 
intended for the focial ftate 5 for it fuppofes 
tyranny on one lide, treachery and cunning 
on the other. Nor is it neceflary to difcufs 
which gives firft occafion to the other. But 
as flavery has over-run fo large a portion of 
fociety, the beft thing now to be done, is 
to prefs its necelTary ftridlnefs of difcipline 
into the fervice of freedom. In conformity 
to this reafoning, I affirm, that. If ever the 
reformation, of which v*^e intend to treat, 
takes place, it muft begin in a plantatloriy 
where forms, that are the firft traces, the 
outlines of rationality can be accurately af- 
certained, and conftantly enforced, by perfe- 
vering method and difcipline. The mild 
and argumentative Solon could regulate the 
fprightly, fenfible Athenians; but the rough, 
unfeeling Ruffians required a Draco, in their 
Peter the Great, to wreft their brutality from 


1^4 ^N '^'^^ Treatment and 

them. In our cafe, the block muft, in fome 
meafure, be chipt in the rude manner of this 
laft, before the light touches of the polifher 
can take effedl,* 

The author cannot, indeed, fatisfy him- 
felf with what he has done, and continues 
to do, in fpite of difappointment. The 
thing, when coniidered by itfelf, appears 
fo plaufible, and mild treatment makes, in 
his imagination, fo amiable a part of it, that 
he is ready to hope, he has only miifed the 
right road, and may be more fuccefsful, if 
he could flrike out a new plan. Again, 
when it is coniidered, how much the ne- 
groes are immerfed in fcnfQ, how their in- 
tellectual powers are wholly employed in the 

* In this, and every other place, where a ftrefs is laid on 
forms and difcipline, the reader is defired to dillinguifh be^ 
tween ftridlnefs and cruelty. What is here fuggefted, is point- 
ed at the mailer, more than the flave, and intends nothing 
violent or abrupt. If the mailer be exaft, and careful in his 
own duty, he will have little reafon to complain of the llave» 
Exaftnefs of method prevents faults, and cuts oiF the neceffity 
of punilhment. It is the ignorant, the immethodical, the neg- 
ligent, the gadding manager, or overfeer, who mull make up 
for all his own defefts by ftripes, and cruel ufage to thofe who 
ai-e under him. In Chap. I. Seft 7, we gave an inftance of 
great ftriftnefs of difcipline, without the ufual proportion of 
punilhment. Four times out of five the flave is punilhed 
for the overfeer's fault, 


Conversion of African Slaves. 17^ 

fervice of the body, and that, refpeding 
them, WQ have accefs to the firft only by 
methods that make impreffion on the other; 
when he revolves the difficulty of managing, 
by argument alone, a few flaves living and 
having their connections among hundreds of 
their equals, who are reftrained only by the 
whip, every hope of governing them, with^ 
out certain degree of difcipline, fubfides; 
he is reduced to barely wifhing, and praying, 
that things were otherwife than he has found 
them, after his beft endeavours. 

The example and converfation of our 
equals, will ever have greater influence on our 
behaviour, than the precepts or example of 
thofe who are fuppofed to be under other 
laws, and to have their lives regulated by 
rules different from thofe that v/e think 
are appointed for us. And it may be 
prefumed, that the eafy treatment which 
made part of the author's fcheme, becaufe 
moft agreeable to his difpolition, pro- 
duced in minds not capable of diiliinguifli- 
ing lenity from want of power, that care- 
leffnefs to pleafe, and pronenefs to ill beha- 
viour, which marked his imall number of 



176 On the Treatment and 

This was the cafe of the author's flaves^ 
and the reafoning about them, as matters 
itood in the year 1771. Since the dreadful 
hurricane of 1772, which fwept away all their 
little flock, there has been fome change for 
the better in their general condud:. They 
have taken a turn to induilry in their own 
little concerns, which has given them a relilh 
for property (a turn that fhould always be en- 
couraged) and this has had an effed: on their 
behaviour. In confequence of this, the 
greateft part of them have been admitted to 
baptifm, and were not the mafter too fre- 
quently obliged to interpofe in matters of 
domeftic concern, to check that fpirit of 
careleiTnefs and oppofition, which naturally 
rifes againfl the views of authority, the 
catechifl and teacher might have appeared 
to have made fome confiderable progrefs a- 
mong them. Though the relaxed difcipline 
of the family made them flill rather carelefs 
of plealing, yet they kept more at home, and 
behaved more honeftly; and while fome 
feemed attached through principle, all had 
become more decent and orderly than in the 
former period. 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 177 

But though they were Haves only in name, 
except in the not being at liberty to change 
the place of their abode at pleafure, and 
though become more manageable than be- 
fore, yet the reluctance that run through 
and aifeded the fervice of the beft, with 
only one exception ; the biafs they had to 
the manners and company of the flaves 
around them; the neceffity of following them 
up in every flep of duty impofed on them, 
and of keeping the fear of punishment fuf- 
pended over them ; in fhort, the apparent 
unealinefs on one fide, and the indifpenfable 
miftrufi: on the other, plainly proved that 
they had no folid enjoyment of themfelves. 
And indeed it was the ftrong feeling he had 
of thefe difficulties in the management of 
his flaves, which principally contributed to 
make the lituation of their mafter moll: 
irkfome to him, and to render a ftate of af- 
fluence and eafe, (in a fettlement otherwife 
as agreeable as imagination can well paint) 
fo difguflful, as induced him with eager- 
nefs to embrace the firft opportunity that a 
generous friendfhip offered, of a retreat in a 
country, in which, though lefs favourable 

M to 

178 On the Treatment and 

to his health, and the views of his family, 
he could indulge the feelings of benevolence 
without regret. 


Inefficacy of the Author's Public Attempts 
to inllrud: Slaves. 

On his fir/l fettlement as a minifter in the 
Weft-Indies, he made alfo fome public at- 
tempts to inftrud: flaves. He began to draw 
up fome eafy, plain difcourfes for their in- 
ftrudiion. He invited them to attend on 
Sundays, at particular hours. He appoint- 
ed hours at home, to inftrud: fuch fenfible 
flaves as would of themfeives attend. He 
repeatedly exhorted their mailers to encour- 
age fuch in their attendance. He recom- 
mended the French cuftom, of beginning 
and ending work by prayer. But incon- 
ceivable is the liflleflhefs with which he 
was heard, and bitter was the cenfure heap- 
ed on him in return. It was quickly fug- 
gefted, and generally believed, that he want- 
ed to interrupt the work of flaves, to give 
them time, forfooth, to fay their prayers 3 that 


Conversion of African Slaves. 179 

he aimed at the making of them Chriftians^ 
to render them incapable of being good 
flaves. In one word, he itood, in opinion, 
a rebel convidl againft the interefl: and ma- 
jefty of planterfhip. And as the Jews fay, 
that in every punifhment, with which they 
have been proved, fince the bondage of Egypt, 
there has been an ounce of the golden calf 
of Horeb ; fo may he fay, that in every 
inftance of prejudice (and they have not 
been a few) with which, till v^ithin a year 
or two of his departure from the country, 
he has been exercifed, there has been an 
ounce of his fruitlefs attempts to improve 
the minds of flaves. 

No mafter would ufe any influence with 
his flaves, to make them attend at the ap- 
pointed hours. Even fome, who approved 
of the plan, or at leafl: durfl; not, for 
fhame, object to it, and who would have 
been offended with the man that fliould 
have infinuated their difregard to religion, 
did not think themfelves obliged to co- 
operate, or encourage their flaves to attend on 
infl:ru6tion. Nor did this backwardnefs pro- 
ceed from a dread of the ill confequences of 
M 2 improve- 

i8o On the Treatment and 

improvement, but from an indolence in 
fuch matters, that cannot be explained to 
one unacquainted with the country. 

In the bidding prayer, he had inferted a 
petition for the converlion of flaves. It was 
deemed fo difagreeable a memento, that feve- 
ral white people, on account of it, left off 
attending divine fervice. He was obliged 
to omit the prayer entirely, to try and bring 
them back. In fhort, neither were the flaves, 
at that time, delirous of being taught, nor 
were their mailers inclined to encourage 
them. But as this refers to a period about 
eighteen years ago, which, in change of in- 
habitants, is there equal to a generation, 
there is ground to hope that the ancient pre- 
judices againft the converfion of the negroes 
may, fince that aera, in fome iflands and in 
fome plantations be a good deal abated. 


Conversion OF African Slaves. i8x 


The Manner fuggeiled, in which private At- 
tempts on large Plantations, to improve 
Slaves, may probably fucceed. 

Little, we fee, can be faid of the endea- 
vours of individuals, within the author's 
knowledge, to improve their Haves. Some 
years ago he fcarce knew a man on the fpot, 
who had ferioufly attended to their Inflrudtion, 
or who believed that interefl, duty, or reputa- 
tion, obliged him to attempt it. Nay, though 
the more moderate and fenfible people al- 
low that the inftrudtion of Haves, if their 
prefent condition permitted it, and it could 
be brought about, would be a good thing, 
yet it is not to be concealed, that fome 
have ftrong objcdlions againft every mea- 
fure that has their benefit in view, or that 
confiders them in any other light than in- 
ilruments of labour. An owner will, in- 
deed, fometimes have a favourite Have bap- 
tized ; but I am not fenfible of any care 
having been taken, either before or after, 
with one in ten, who are indulged with 
the rite, to fee that they be inftrud;ed. 

M 3 I was 

i82 On the Treatment and 

I was once requefled to baptize a negrefs, 
remarkable for her faithfulnefs and attach- 
ment to her owner's interefl. On examina- 
tion, I found her grofsly ignorant, and un- 
ufually inattentive. In the ealieft manner 
in my power I attempted to inftrud: her, 
and as fhe lived in the neighbourhood, bid 
her come frequently to me. I fpoke alfo 
to her owners, mentioned her ignorance, 
and exprefled my readinefs to inftrud; her. 
She never attended, was carried into ano- 
ther parifh, and there baptized, I had al- 
moft faid, without ceremony. Baptifm is 
fuppofed to free a Have from the power 
of the negroe conjurer, and its being per- 
mitted, is conlidered, in the mailer, as the 
conferring of a favour, that is complete, 
when the rite is performed. The lot of 
flaves, refpedting religion, is moft favourable, 
when they happen to be prefented young to 
a growing up daughter of the family, or to 
be the property of induflrious people, jufl 
above the loweft rank. In thefe cafes, care 
is fometimes taken to fit them for baptifm, 
and fome turn out tolerably fober, and fen- 
fible; but their proportion to the whole- 
can hardly be taken into account. 


Conversion of African Slaves. 183 

But if Haves in their prefent Jlate be ca- 
pable of any confiderable improvement, it 
will probably be on large plantations, where 
they compofe communities of themfelves, 
and where the difcipline neceiTary for huma- 
nizing them can be carried on with the great- 
eft ftrid:nefs and efFed:. In this point of 
view is the following plan propofed. 

In the lirft place, a chaplain muft be 
appointed; and a man of confiderable afli- 
duity would find full employment among 
the ufual numbers, that extenfive plan- 
tations contain of fuch ignorant crea- 
tures. If a fober, difcreet man in orders 
could be found, who underftood phyfic 
enough to enable him to take charge of 
their fick, greater encouragement could be 
given, and one office would promote the 
other. For both, a fingle man fhould be 
allowed ^2^0 fterling per annum, the uie 
of a horfe and a boy, and board with the 
manager. No man, acquainted with the 
country, will conlider this appointment as 
exceffive, for a man of a liberal education. 

The chaplain fliould teach the llaves fome 

fliort prayers, to be repeated by them in 

M 4 private. 

184 On the Treatment and 

private, when they rife in the morning, and 
when they go to fleep. He Ihould accuftom 
them to repeat fome Hiort inftrudive form 
refpedling their focial duties, when they begin 
and leave off their field work. The black over- 
feers, as in the French colonies, may foon 
be taught to take the lead in their field de- 

A chapel fliould be built for the perform- 
ance of divine fervice on Sunday, for prayers 
on the days when their allowance of pro- 
vifions is diftributed, foj celebrating the 
offices of matrimony and baptifm, and 
any other occafion of meeting together. A 
burying ground ihould be fet apart for the 
decent interment of the dead, and it fhould 
be allottecfout according to their families. 
It would have an excellent effed; on them, 
if only tradable, well-difpofed perfons were 
buried with their families, and every worth- 
lefs fellow buried in a place apart. 

The chapel fhould be built near the hof- 
pital, that all, who are under cure, may, 
if able, attend fervice. The chaplain fliould 
be inftant in inftruding thofe in the hofpi- 
tal, that his teaching may interfere the lefs 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 185 

w^ith their ordinary work in health. And as 
a coniiderable proportion, on fome account 
or other, will be received into the hofpital 
within the year, fomething valuable may be? 
effed:ed by embracing that opportunity. 
By applying particularly to bring forward 
the more fenlible and teachable ilaves, he 
may enable them in time to affifb him in 
the work, and by little rewards, which he 
may be allowed to beftow, he may fecure 
their help ; but efpecially, he may give the 
parents affed:ion a turn to the inftru(5lion 
of their children. The great difficulty will 
be, to let down the language of religion to 
their prefent capacity : a convincing proof 
with me, that however llavery may be per- 
mitted, yet originally Providence never 
defigned any rational, or accountable creature 
for fuch a deprefled brutiih ftate, as that 
of African ilaves in the Britifh colonics. 
But if a few were once well-grounded in re- 
ligious knowledge, they could talk more 
familiarly and feelingly to their fellows, 
than the minifter ; and his chief buiinefs, 
except general inftrucflion, would then be 
to fuperintend their condud, and excite 


i86 On the Treatment and 

them to the work. The young children 
generally iliew themfelves four or five times 
a day in a gang, with fmall parcels of grafs, 
picked for the cattle. They may be made 
to repeat fome fliort general precept, on de- 
livering in their bundles, the moft forward 
boy taking the lead. 

Sundays are ufually fpent by induflrious 
Haves, in their own proviiion grounds. To 
give them time for improvement and devo- 
tion on that day, they mufl be allowed at 
leaft Saturday afternoon for their own work ; 
taking care to keep them honeflly employed, 
that they may not go robbing, or ftealing, 
or get into drunken brawls. Few, at iiril, 
could bear fuch indulgence, without flrid 
looking after. 

As the manager will objedt to a regula- 
tion that curtails the working hours of his 
people, to induce him to allow the Haves 
this time, he mufl: be permitted to make up 
for the labour reduced in giving up Satur- 
day afternoon to themfelves, by adding gra- 
dually to the gang, on a large plantation, 
about thirty young negroes. If the owner 
fliould, from delicacy, objedt to the buying 
of Haves, perhaps the confideration of its 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 187 

producing a benefit to the whole, may pre- 
vail on him. This would be an expence at 
firft, but, by increafmg the vigour and in- 
duftry of the ilaves, would in time improve 
his property greatly beyond their firfl: coft. 
And as the flaves might be made to per- 
form their own work, under the dired:ion 
of the overfeers, their patches of ground 
would be better cultivated, and give greater 
increafe, than when each is left to work as 
he pleafeth. This is on the fuppofition, 
that fuch plantations are fully flocked for 
the prefent views of the proprietors. 

The gang fliould be marfhalled by fami- 
lies, each diviiion being put under the care 
of the principal perfon in it, who (hould be 
anfwerable for their condud:. At ftated 
times they fhould pafs in review, be exa- 
mined in refped: of health, give an account 
of their clothes, and the feveral articles of 
their little property. Then fliould follow 
an inquiry into their religious progrefs, and 
a diHribution of rewards among the moft 
diligent, either in getting themfelves, or 
their children and fellows forward. Much 
would depend on the temper and difcretion 


i88 On the Treatment and 

of the minifler^ much on the hearty con- 
currence of the manager. 

A large public thatched room fhould be 
built, in which to hold their feafts and 
merry-makings ; and the man of the great- 
eft influence and fobriety among them, 
fhould be chofen by themfelves, and ap- 
proved of by the manager, to be mafter of 
the revels, and keep them harmlefs, and 
within bounds. Some folemn a(5l of prayer, 
or thankfgiving, fhould begin and end every 

No offence, except infolence and difobe- 
dience, fhould be punifhed by the manager, 
till it has been fubmitted to the decifion 
of a jury, chofen from among themfelves. 
This would accuftom them to mark the 
difference between right and wrong, and at 
leaft make confiderate and prudent flaves 
ihun faults, which they had condemned in 
their neighbour's pracStice. All punifhments 
fhould be inflided with folemnity, in pre- 
fence of the gang, accompanied with fome 
fhort explanation of the crime, and an ex- 
hortation from the chaplain, to abftain from 
it« Infolence and difobedience are left to 

Conversion of African Slaves. 189 

be punifhed at the difcretion of the mana- 
ger, till the Haves become capable of moral 
government, becaufe he would not be able 
to fupport his authority, if obliged to fub- 
mit the difcuffion of faults committed againft 
himfelf, to the decifion of other perfons. 

It is difficult to determine what reforma- 
tion this example, and the good eiFed:s pro- 
duced by this extraordinary care, might 
produce in a neighbourhood. But judging 
from analogy, we mufl not exped: the fruits 
to be of a very quick growth, or very fpread- 
ing nature. Thus, for inftance, we know 
that interefl pleads equally with humanity, 
for the kind treatment of flaves. Every 
difcreet man feelingly acknowledges it ; 
yet how often, in practice, do thefe 
principles feem to be at variance, in fpite 
of the moft convincing example which their 
union, in men of prudence and fentiment, 
can produce ? How frequently may intereft, 
or rather her accurfed phantom, felfifhnefs, 
be feen dragging a human creature in a 
chain, naked, ftarved, and raw with ftripes, 
and demanding, with threats, that tale of 
labour, which cruelty has rendered the 
wretch incapable of performing ? 


190 On the Treatment and 

Now if example be fo little of a diifufive 
nature, in a cafe fuch as this, in which all 
confider themfelves as concerned, what may 
we exped: to happen in religion, which is 
not deemed the concern of any particular 
perfon? The lifllefsnefs in fuch matters is 
too univerfal j the defire of prefent gain too 
general, for any conliderable proportion of 
the inhabitants to fall fuddenly and eagerly 
into a fcheme, that promifes fo little im- 
mediate profit, and feems to be fo very 
foreign to their bufinefs, or duty, and fo 
far above the capacity of rhe objects of this 


* Among the ancients, not only the fine arts, but fciences 
and philofophy, in particular inftances, were cultivated by 
flaves. Thefe were therefore immediate objefts of religion 
and morality. But their fituation differed greatly from that 
of our African flaves. Thefe are favages ravifhed from their 
huts, and their country, to till, like brutes, a ftrange foil, in 
a ftrange climate, among people of a ftrange fpeech, without 
rights, without privileges, without enjoyments. The ancient 
flaves were often perfons of condition, deprived of their 
freedom by the accidents of war ; or fuch as had been liberally 
brought up in their mailer's family, and looked forward to 
freedom in his affedlion or gratitude. Thefe once accuftomed 
to refleft, purfued their ftudies^ and fearched in philofophy, 


Conversion of African Slaves. 191 

Yet on no account is there reafon to de- 
Ipair. Good fenfe would induce the imita- 
tion of fome ; religion, awakened by confci- 
ence, would exert her influence v/ith others ; 
fhame would oblige many, vanity more; th* 
natural progrefs of knowledge and reafon 
in the human mind, though flow to anfwer 
the wifhes of fentiment, would go on gra- 
dually to accomplifli the important work. 
Even among the fenfible flaves, emulation 
would have great effedts. On the whole, the 
caufe of humanity and religion would be 
ferved. But whatever might be the iffue 
with others, were fuch flaves as thefe of 
whom we treat, advanced in focial life gra- 
dually, as they fhewed themfelves capable 
of improvement, nothing could hinder their 
mafl:ers from reaping the happieft fruits 
from their humanity, piety, and good Cenfe, 
They would be more healthy, more vigo- 
rous, more diligent, more honeflij they 

or religion, for fupport under the miferies of their condition. 
In their cafe, no infolent pride in the mafter, of fuppofing 
himfelf of an higher race, blocked up the path to their ad- 
vancement It is pride with us forms an infeparable bar to 
every generous wilh. Emulation is frozen ; expeftation is 
dead ; the heavenly fpark lies fmothered in anguifh and neg- 
left, while all around is darkncfs and doubt. 


192 On the Treatment and 

would rife in the fcale of being, pofTefs more 
of the conveniencies of life, enjoy more hap- 
pinefs, and look forward with more confi- 
dence into futurity. I have mentioned the 
neceffity of making focial privileges, to ac- 
company attempts at mental improvement, 
becaufe I am perfuaded, that little of confe- 
quence can be gained in the laft, without be- 
ftowing fomething proportionably conlidera- 
ble on the other. But we fhall leave the dif- 
cuffion of this point, to make a part of our 
particular plan of improvement.* 


• That particular points may be gained among flaves, in 
tKeir prefent ftate, though we have few examples of general 
improvement, may be concluded from the following narration. 

On a plantation in a tobacco colony, lived fome years ago 
a manager, a German, a reduced army officer. He formed 
the flaves into a regiment, dividing them into commands, and 
appointing officers over them. Their motions were perform- 
ed, and their work was regulated by beat of di'um. He 
planted armed centinels as in a garrifpn. Offences were tried 
as in a court martial, and none were punifhed till their equals 
had adjudged them to be guilty. A corporal had defer ted and 
carried off his arms. The officer received intelligence of him, 
and as it was the firft inftance of defertion, and the offender 
had alfo killed one of his companions, it was neceffary to 
make a ftriking example of it. The officer went at the head 
of an armed party, and furrounded the houfe where the cor- 
poral lay hid. It was night, and happened to be moon-light. 
The noifc foon brought the deferter out, armed with his mulket. 


Conversion of African Slaves, 193 

In general we affirm, that the mailer, or 
legillature, that aims at improvement, or de- 
lires to promote good order, mufl keep their 
people llridlly to forms, and make the indi- 
viduals judges of each other's behaviour. 
Breaches of morality may, under proper ge- 
neral fandiions, be left to the unbialTed opi- 
nions of the people. To direct induftry, 
and indifferent habits, to a plan of general 
utility and obedience, is the objed; of po- 
lice. To carry form and method into pri- 
vate life, is the true fecret to impart firm- 
nefs, both to law and empire. 

It was not the laws of Lycurgus, which 
might not be in contemplation once in a 
man's life, but it was his ciijiomsy which 

The officer, while advancing on him with his mulket prefent- 
ed, bid him furrender, and on no account to prefent his piece, 
for on the fmalleft attempt he would fhoot him : on the other 
hand, he affured him, on his honour, that he fhould have a fair 
trial. The corporal hoped to command more favourable terihs 
in a pofture of defence, but in attempting to level his piece, 
the officer fhot liim dead. He was tried in the provincial courts 
for killing the man, and was acquitted. But to fhew his peo- 
ple, that he did not make one law for them, and another for 
him.felf, he had the caufe formally difcufTed in his own plan- 
tation court, and was unanimoufly abfolved. The effcds tliat 
would naturally be produced by fuch a difciplinc, enforced by 
fuch an example, mult, in things to which it is extended, be 
great and lafting. 

N met 

194 O^ THE Treatment An£) 

met the citizen at every meal, that gave (la- 
bility to Sparta. The decalogue, and the other 
principles of morality, fill a fmall fpace in 
the laws of Mofes, and refpedt every other 
nation equally with the Jews; but ablutions, 
feflivals, and facriiices returned on his peo- 
ple, at every hour 5 and they were the infti- 
tutes which have principally fecured obedience 
to that conftitution through a longer period of 
time, than any other fyftem has been able 
to effed:. Man is compofed of matter and 
intelled: ; and he who would be mafter of 
the lafl, muft not neglect the culture of 
the other. Our Engli{h laws pafs over the 
private conduct of the citizen, to attend to 
nuifances, and impofe taxes. Hence that 
abfurdity of condud:, that inconfiftency, that 
extravagance of behaviour, that mifapplica- 
tion of time, and wealth, which prevail 
among us, above all others, in private life. 
And yet how can the public carry on that 
joint purpofe, which is the end of fociety, 
or how can it flourifh as a community, when 
individuals are left, each man to follow his 
own caprice?* In fhort, we have too few 


* To give one inftance out of thoufands of this negleft. 
The fate of the nation is fuppofed to be bound up with trade, 


Conversion OF African Slaves, 195 

circumftances, that bring us together, or 
oblige us to confider ourfelves as members 
of the fame community. The focial nature 

yet is every man permitted to finifh his own manufa£lures, in 
his own way, by which the national charadler and interelt fuf- 
fcr daily among foreigners. This might be prevented, by 
permitting nothing to be exported, till it has endured the fcru- 
tiny of proper judges, and had its quality ftampt on it by au^ 
thority. This negligence, ere this, would have been as fatal 
in other branches, as it has already been in the Turkey trade, 
but for that emulation which naturally arifes among competi- 
tors in the fame branches. 

This fyftem, of direfting by authority the private conduft of 
citizens, was carried a faulty length by the Jefuits in Paraguay, 
There the individual was confidered as a mere inftrument of 
public order, and public induftry, without having any thing 
permitted to his own feelings, or inclination. And our flaves 
fuifer in proportion, as they are under a mafter, who is more 
or lefs teafing and difturbing them in their own hours, and 
little concerns. But furely, it would not be difficult to ob- 
lige, by the regulations of police, a man to be happy in himfelf, 
and to add happinefs to thofe around him, by fixing oa the 
proper medium in managing him, between carelefsnefs and 
inftruftion. The difference is exceeding great in our Haves, 
when employed for their mailers and for themfelves. In the 
firft cafe, they drawl their talk out, and weep under the bur- 
den, liftlefs, and carelefs of fuccefs See them on a Sunday 
morning, that only day of liberty, going to market with their 
own provifions, they walk ftrong, their faces cheerful, their 
bodies ereft, their perfons neat, and the whole man elevated 
and improved. Now the police that we recommend above, 
makes the man contribute to the general profperity, while he 
imagines himfelf wholly taken up inpurfuing his own intereft, 
and exerting himfelf in his own bufmefs. 

N 2 of 

196 On the Treatment and 

of our religion has indeed hitherto made up 
for many of the other defeats, and prevented 
us from feeling their ill confequence. But 
in proportion as the notions of Epicurus 
become faihionable among us, this tie drops 
offalfo, and in all probability, unlefs we ex- 
cept our taxes, we Ihall foon have nothing 
in common as a people, but the fea that 
furrounds our ifle. A defire of pointing 
out the way of giving fuccefs to the parti- 
cular attempt here recommended, amidfl the 
difficulties that furround it, has infenfibly 
led to this digreffion. 


( 197 ) 


Natural Capacity of Slaves vindicated. 

TO thofe who, with Mofes, believe 
that all men had one common pa- 
rent, though for wife ends different families 
have fince had diftinguifhing marks fixed on 
them, the fubjed: of this chapter would be 
an unneceffary digreffion. But we are fo 
fond of an hypothelis, which indulges pride, 
and faves the trouble of inquiry, that the 
contrary, though leading to nothing gene- 
rous, though narrow, felfifli, and illiberal, 
has found powerful advocates, who draw 
after them crowds of admirers. Therefore, 
before we proceed to claim the rights of 
fociety, and of a common religion for Af- 
ricans, we muft firft put them in poffeflion 
of that humanity, which is pertinacioully 
difputed with them. With this view I 

N 3 Ihall 

198 On tite Treatment ANi> 

fhall confider the objedions made to their 
capacity, from hypothecs, from figure, from 
anatomy, from obfervation, and prove their 
natural powers, from reafon and experience. 

S E C T. I. 

Objedions to African Capacity, drawn from 
Philofophy, confidered. 

Hume, in his ElTays, broacheth an opi- 
nion concerning negroes, which, if true, would 
render whatever could be advanced in their 
favour, of no account. But I trufl his af- 
fertion, which certainly was made without 
any competent knowledge of the fubjedr^ 
will appear to have no foundation, either in 
reafon or nature. In his EfTay on National 
Charadters, he fays, ** That mankind is com- 
** pofed of three or four different races j and 
*^ that there never was a polifhed fociety, 
*' but of the white race, to which all others 
** are naturally inferior," In particular, he 
gives it as his forr^ed opinion, *' that there 
*^ never arofe a man of genius among ne- 
^* ^roes." 


Conversion of African Slaves. 199 

Had he lived in the days of Auguftus, 
or even but a thoufand years ago, his nor- 
thern pride, perhaps, would have been lefs 
afpiring, and fatisiied to have been admitted 
even on a footing of equality with the fable 
Africans. Virgil makes Dido inlinuate to 
^Eneas, the reafon he had to exped; humane 
treatment among her people, not becaufe 
they were polifhed Phoenicians, but becaufe 
they dwelt more immediately than other 
powers under the powerful influence of the 
fun. And in the time of Charlemagne, a 
foreign divine, writing to the Britons to 
encourage them, tells them, as a thing re- 
markable, that though their country lay far 
** north, yet it had produced feveral great 
** men." Suppofing thefe, and Hume's ob-f 
fervations, (if indeed thefe deferve the name) 
to have been drawn equally from fa6t, th^ 
conclufion is, that arts, fciences, and the 
polifhed life accompanying them, are flow- 
ly progreffive through nations and climates, 
rather than that the natives of any parti- 
cular country are born incapable of them 
in their turn, as if intended to ad: an in- 
ferior part in the moral world, 

N 4 Again^ 

200 On the Treatment and 

Again, in his Natural Hiftory of Religion, 
he affirms, that if a traveller found a peo- 
ple void of religion, he would find them 
removed but few^ degrees from brutes. -f- He 
fays, " In the progrefs of human thought, 
'* the ignorant multitude muft iirft entertain 
** fome grovelling familiar notion of fuperior 
** powers, before they ftretch their concep- 
** tions to that perfect Being, who beftowed 
** order on the frame of nature/' J " to be- 

** lieve," 

f Yet, why, if fuch be the man's genuine fentiments, did 
he ftrive, in all his writings, to difgrace religion, and deftroy 
every moral fentiment connefted with it among his country- 
men ? I will not fay what name fuch cool malevolence de- 
ferves, but, on the other hand, let not his friends pretend 
to exalt the author of fuch peftilential tenets above every 
human charafter. 

X This is with a view to eftablifli his favourite pofition, that 
polytheifm was the firft religion : becaufe, he there fays, 
*' Man could not poffibly have degenerated from pure theifm 
" to polytheifm ; and yet, we know, that polytheifm has 
*' prevailed." But, forgetting this impoffibility of degene- 
racy, in order to fliew the little confequence of religion in 
general, and, as he humanely and refpeftfully obferves, to fet 
the religious fefts a wrangling, while he and a few more 
choice fpirits are making their efcape into the calm regions of 
philofophy; he afterwards tells us, that man changes continu- 
ally from polytheifm to theifm, and from theifm to poly- 
theifm ; and, in his opinion, it is a matter of no confequence. 
But confiftency in the apoftle of infidelity is as little neceffary, 


Conversion of African Slaves. 201 

** lieve," faith he, *' inviiible, intelligent 
** power, is a ftamp fet by the divine Work- 
** man on human nature. Nothing dignifies 
** man more than to be feleded from all the 
** other parts of the creation to bear this 
'* image of the univerfal Creator." Here, 
then, we have religion for a badge of excel- 
lence or reafon, and the want of it a mark 
of inferiority or brutality. Speaking of the 
white or fuperior race, he goes on to affirm, 
that the bulk of mankind is incapable of 
being directed by the tenets of pure theifm^ 
that all popular religions, in the conception 
of their more vulgar votaries, are, therefore, 
a fpecies of demoniafm -, and that religious 
principles, as they have prevailed in the 
world, are only fick mens dreams. 

Now, if we aiTume, as we juftly may, 
that a perfedion to be found very feldom 
in a fuperior race, cannot be expected in- 
any inftance in an inferior race; according 
to him, we {hall in vain look among negroes 
for what is rare even in the white race. 

as in the lives of thofe for whom the doftrine is calculated. 
There is, indeed, fomething fo degrading in all Hume's phi- 
lofophy, as can recommend it only to a corrupt heart, and 
a vitiated underflanding, which fee nothing to wifh for, or ex- 
cite their emulation, out of the circle of animal indulgencies. 


202 On the Treatment and 

Here and there we fee a man fix feet in Ma- 
ture* but were there fuch a nation as Fabu- 
lifls defcribe pigmies to be, would a travel- 
ler exped to find a pigmy fix feet tall ? In 
fuppofing a diftindion, we deny to the in- 
ferior every mark of excellency that diilin- 
guifhes one individual of the fuperior race 
from his fellows. If, then, his fuppofition 
be juft, it follows that negroes are not in- 
tended for religion. For, whatever be his 
private fentiments of revealed religion, he 
muft allow it to be a fpecies of general re- 
ligion ; and he admits the reception of religion 
to be a perfedlion in the fuperior race, an 
advancement of their nature, that few in com^ 
parifon of the whole do really attain unto. 
He alfoallows thatChriftianity contains many 
of the fublime truths of theifm, which, accord- 
ing to his opinion, no fociety, even of white 
men, ever yet lived up to. It would then be 
abfurd to expeft that negroes, an inferior race, 
ihould be capable of an excellence, even in 
that lefs degree, fuppofed to be contained in 
Chriflianity, tq which a great proportion of 
the fuperior race^ I will not fay cani^ota bVit 
do nota attain. 


Conversion of African Slaves. 203 

But there is fomething in a v^ell-difpofed 
mind, that makes the man revolt againfl 
this cruel opinion : and, I trujfl:, nature flatly 
contradidts the alTertion. As far as I 
can judge, there is no difference betv^^een 
the intelled:s of whites and blacks, but 
fuch as circumflances and education natu- 
rally produce. 

It is true, there are marks, that appear now 
to be eftablifhed, as if fet by the hand of 
nature to diftinguifh them from the whites: 
their nofes are flat, their chins prominent, 
their hair woolly, their fkin black. They 
who, from Mofes believe (and, fince, on 
any fcheme we mufl: come to a particular 
time when the difliindlion took place, it is, 
to fay no more, juft as fenfible as any other 
pofition) that the Deity parcelled out the 
earth into families and languages, may con- 
clude, that thefe difl;in(flions gradually took 
place at the period in which the fons of men 
were conduced by the invilible hand of Pro- 
vidence each to his allotted habitation. And, 
let it be remarked, that the charad:erifl:ics of 
negroes {hew themfelves chiefly about the 
face, where nature has fixed both the national 


204 On the Treatment and 

attributes and the difcriminating features of 
individuals, as if intended to diftinguifh them 
from other families, and bind them in thefocial 
tie with their brethren. But their tongues 
are as muiicalj-f- their hands as elegant and 
apt, their limbs as neatly turned, and their 
bodies as well formed for flrength and ac- 
tivity as thofe of the white race. 

After firft writing the above, I was for a 
fhort time made happy, by finding that 
Lord Kaims, in his firft volume of Sketches, 
had indulged the fuppofition, that at the dif- 
perlion, on the confuiion of languages, 
when the earth was divided among Noah's 
poflerity, national attributes firil took place 
in the feveral families, in the feveral climates. 
But this fatisfadiion continued only till I 

f It is furprizing, that during the continued rage for 
Italian fingers, it has never entered among the whims of the 
age, to try if mufic might not be imported from the Banks of 
the Niger. It is certain the natural tafte of the Africans for 
mufic is confideraljle; and inftruftion and affiduity might 
change mungo's filly ftage gihberifh into the foft thrills and 
quavers of Italian eunuchs. By the way, how would it have 
hurt the pride of an overweening Hume among the Romans, 
to have been told, that the time would come when his fons 
fhould be emafculated to fit them for entertaining on a ftage 
the barbarous Britons with effeminate mufic ? 


Conversion of African Slaves. 205 

entered on the perufal of the fecond volume: 
where it is affirmed, that the inhabitants of 
America have an origin diftind: from the 
natives of the eaftern hemifphere. We fliall, 
therefore, confider thefe opinions together. J 


J In a late well-known Hiflory of America there is room to 
imagine, that the author entertains the fame opinion with Lord 
Kaims. He guards it, indeed, by faying, that we Ihould be 
apt to believe the Americans had a different origin, if the 
fcriptures did not allure us that mankind fprung from one 
ilock. The doftor did not refleft that many of his readers had 
not the fame opinion of the fcriptures as he entertained ; and 
that his conjefture, as an hiftorian, would weigh more with 
them, than his faith as a Chriftian. He, probably, threw it 
out as a fpeculative opinion, without attending to the in- 
human confequences deduced from it, andcertainly he grounds 
it on very controvertible data. When he acknowledged the 
apparent difference, he Ihould have been aware of the fcep- 
ticifm of the age, and guarded againfl: the conclufions that 
would eagerly be drawn from it. 

Indeed, the friends of virtue have feldom been fufficiently 
careful in this refpe£l. Before any fpeculative opinion be 
given to the world, a man fhould turn it in his mind every 
poffible way, to confider to what ufes it may be wreftcd by 
infidelity, when brought out under the fandlion of his name. 
A profeffed enemy of virtue mull be placed in particular 
ciixumftances to be able to do much harm in the world by his 
writings ; but every reverie of an eminent good man is eagerly 
feized on, if it can be turned to promote the purpofes of pro- 
fligacy. Would Locke, even in the eagernefs of difputation, 
have hazarded that wild conjecture, that poffibly matter might 
think, could he have forefeen that it would have ellablifhed 


go6 On the Treatment ani5 

That without the information afforded by 
facred hiftory, and without an attention to 
that extenfive plan of divine oeconomy which 
it opens to us, we fhould, at liril light, 
imagine the feveral families inhabiting the 
earth to have had diftindt progenitors, I 
readily acknowledge. But, iince a hiflory 
confiilent in itfelf, uncontradidled by autho- 
rity, agreeing in analogy with the pall and 
prefent Hate of things, and fupported by 
every pollible collateral evidence of hillory, 
tradition, national manners, and cuftoms, 
alTures us that men had one common anceftor, 
that at a period, when men had become nu- 
merous, profligate, and daring, their Crea- 
tor, to punilh their rebellion, and, (con- 
formably to that divine benevolence which 
conllantly brings good out of evil) to make 
it inftrumental in advancing fociety, and the 
more equal and fpeedy cultivation of the 
earth, divided them into families and lan- 
guages, giving to each diftind: features, and 
a feparate fpeech : this, I fay, being the cafe, 
we are not left at liberty to purfue every 

him as a main pillar of materialifm, and made him anfwerable 
for all its dreary confequences. In arguing, as in wreftling, 
we are not fo careful to preferve ourfejlves from falling, a$ 
anxious to throw oar adverfary» 


Conversion' OF African Slaves. 207 

wild conjedlure. Both methods, at firft, 
were equally eafy to fupreme power; both, 
at iiril, flood equally in need of an extraor- 
dinary volition or exertion of Omnipotence. 
But we can obferve a peculiar propriety 
in chooling the latter. By giving man one 
fimple origin, by beflowing on him a com- 
mon nature, a foundation was laid for the 
ultimate re-union of mankind, as well now 
in improved focial life as in futurity; a 
re-union intended to take place in time under 
the then-promifed connediing head of the 
creation, and particularly rendered prad:ica- 
ble in a unity of laws, government, and 
worfhip, by this univerfal equality eflablifli- 
ed among the various families; which keeps 
the way open for the equal and gradual im- 
provement of their common nature. This 
is the fyftem taught by revelation : it is a 
plan that reafon readily acknowledges, and 
benevolence chearfully adopts ; it gives a 
grand, a flattering, and the only conliftent 
view of mankind, as having for its author 
the God of univerfal nature. He, who 
once has entertained it, muft defpife the 
conjedlures of philofophy, and the paradoxes 
of infidelity. And furely it fliould gain for 


2o8 On the Treatment and 

that revelation which difcovers it a favour- 
able, even an interefled, hearing, equally 
from the politician and the philanthropifl:, as 
encouraging the noblefl and warmeft vi^iflies 
that refped: fociety or man. 

All here is confiilent and analogical. In 
certain attributes and qualities, in the m.ental 
powers, all mankind agree. The feveral 
families or fuppofed races have various marks, 
connecting them with each other, and dif- 
tinguilhing them from the reft. The nations 
into which each race is divided, with the 
common attributes of the race, have lefs ap- 
parent, yet ftill fufficient marks to diftinguifh 
them from others, and conned: them toge- 
ther. Generally fpeaking, even inhabitants 
of provinces have a common run of man- 
ners, language, or features, perhaps of all 
taken together, to bind them in fome degree 
of union, and alfo diftinguifh them. After 
thefe, domeftic likenefles take place, that have 
ftill more intimate common marks, yet allow 
of a fufficient variety to know a man from 
his brother. 

Now, in the eye of true philofophy, the 
diftinguifhing attributes of the individual, 
an hair more or lefs of this or that colour, 

a par- 

Conversion of African Slaves. 209 

a particular feature predominant, have as 
certain a diHind: caufe in nature, as what 
makes the difference between the faireft Eu- 
ropean and moft jetty African. If, there- 
fore, we can refolve the difcriminating attri- 
butes of individuals into the neceffary final 
caufe of focial intercourfe, why hefitate we 
in afcribing to the fame caufe the more ob- 
vious diftindions of the greater families? 
Or, why feek for caufes lefs confident, ap- 
parently lefs worthy of the Deity, to pamper 
vanity and pride, when this is full and fuf- 
ficient to explain the fatt ? 

For the period v^dien this diftin(flion took 
place, and the plan of reformation to which 
it looked, we are referred by Mofes to the 
confufion of Babel, " When the Moft High 
** divided to the nations their inheritance; 
** when he feparated the fons of Adam; when 
" he fet the bounds of the people according 
** to the number of the children of Ifraeh" 
a family, that, in the courfe of Providence, 
was feparated, and, when thefulnefs of time 
came, was employed, to inftrudt the world 
in that common relation to their Creator 
and to each other, which had been entangled 
in error, disfigured by fable, and perverted 

O by 

2IO On the Treatment anj> 

hy fidion : for this office the Jews were well 
calculated; their turn for commerce made 
them wander and mix with, while their cuf- 
toms kept them diflindt from^ other nations. 
They were a(5luated with zeal for the unity 
of the Deity, and Ihewed a wonderful pa- 
tience under perfecution.-f* 


f It is remarkable of Philo, the Jew Platonift, that though 
he gives no hint of his knowledge of Chrillianity, which alone 
explains and vindicates the Jewilh law, and points out its 
defign ; yet, with Chriftians and Platonifts, he fuppofeth the 
world to be the immediate work, and under the particular 
government of the Demiurgos, or word, and he affirms the 
reparation of the Jews to have had the gradual improvement of 
mankind in view.. 

In fpite of the obligations that the world in general owes to 
the Jews, refpefting theology and morality, yet fo fafhionable 
is it for every author, in imitation of Voltaire, to go out of his 
way to abufe them, that he who expreffes a regard for them 
expofes himfelf to contempt. But thofe who deny them the 
privileges of a particular difpenfation, in fo doing exalt them 
above all nations of antiquity. For they alone had penetra- 
tion to find out, and piety to worlhip, the univerfal Creator. 
The Roman twelve tables were a colleftion from all the Greek 
inftitutes ; how contemptible are they compared with the 
decalogue ! That anciently the Jews were not the defpifed 
people which modern infidelity would fain reprefent them, 
appears clearly from the alliances formed by them, and the im- 
munities and privileges granted them under the Perfians, 
Grecians, and Romans. The farcafm of Auguftus on them, 
may be accounted for from their being the only province that 

refu fed 

Conversion OF African Slaves. 211 

S E C T. II. 

Objed:ions to African Capacity, drawn, 
from Form, confidered. 

The marks that diftinguifh the African, 
and give room to the tyrannic European (for 
I believe the Afiatic mailer is content with 
the pre- eminence that power imparts) to claim' 
the highefl place, are, as I before obferved, 

rcfufed to make him a God. The fneering of the Roman 
poets is, in the cafe of a conquered nation, but a poor proof 
of a matter of fa6l. B ut thefe cavillers have not refiefted that 
the hiftory of the Jews, from which their abufc is drawn, 
confiders them wholly as objefts of morality and religion, 
under the immediate government of the Lord Jehovah, not 
with other hiilories as a Itate rifing and falling in the fcale of 
opulence. Take the moil virtuous people of this, or any 
ancient period, and meafure their manners by the perfeft law 
of God, and will they ftand in a more amiable or praife- 
worthy light than thefe defpifcd out-cafts ? Doth Jeremiah 
paint the depravity of his people in ftronger lines than honeft 
Latimer doth that of his age, though the period of reformation ? 
Would Latimer foften his Ilile, were he to return among us? 
Farther, to be abufed is a fign of oppofition and emulation 
rather than of inferiority. Why, among the various nations 
that inhabit the Britilh ifles, is one alone abufed by their 
wealthier neighbours, but becaufe it treads moft clofely at their 
heels? Had not the Jews made a diftinguilhed figure in the 
Roman Empire, the triumph that celebrated their conquell 
would have clofed the account of them as a people. 

O 2 flat 

212 On the Treatment and 

iiat nofes, prominent chins, woolly hair, 
black fkinsj to which the curious anatomift 
adds fkulls lefs capacious, calves of the legs 
lefs fiefhy, and elevated more towards the 
hams. Now, allowing all thefe, we want 
a link to connedl them with inferiority. Lefs 
capacious ikulls, indeed, will at once be 
deemed conclufive againfl: us; but has the 
rule been applied, and is it found agreeable 
to obfervation in common life ? 

We know that climate, diet, and the 
various modes of life have great pov/er over 
the features, form, and ftature of man. 
Weft Indian children, educated in England, 
improve not only in complexion, but in ele- 
gance of features : an alteration ariling, per- 
haps, equally from change of climate, of 
diet, and of education. We fee fimilarity of 
features run through particular families. 
Shall we, therefore, be able to tell which 
carries the eniigns of genius; which bears 
the impreffion of wifdom, the proper foun- 
dation of power. On this fuppofition, he- 
reditary indefeafible right in Kings would 
not be a fubjed: of ridicule, but of grave 
difcuffion. We need only to diftinguifli ac- 
curately the ftamp of royalty to put ourfelves 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 213 

under the beft poffible government. Were 
this allowedj we could no longer laugh at 
the Egyptians for pretending to be able to 
call out their God Apis from amidll herds 
of common oxen. We fee fets of national 
features independent of colour. We fee 
colour gradually verging from white to 
black, through every intermediate degree of 
tawny and copper. We fee genius fporting 
in various forms, tall in Newton, bulky in 
Hume, llender in Voltaire, diminutive and 
deformed in Pope. Where fhall we fix the 
claim of genius ? how purfue it through all 
the diverfity of human form ? Or, were we 
to attempt it, and infolently place ourfelves, 
or our tribe, in the highefl rank, would not 
History dafli the vain garland from our 
brow ? Would it not tell us that arts, fcien- 
ces, and the immediate capacity for them, 
arc progreffive in their nature and objedts, 
vifiting fometimes this region, fometimes 
another ? 

Again, of the fame fociety, of the fame 
family, fome men are fmooth, fome hairy, 
fomc tall, fome fhort, fome fair, fome brown. 
But as thefe peculiarities are indifcriminately 
diflributed among individuals, otherwife 

O 3 eq[ual 

214 On the Treatment and 

equal, no body thinks of applying a rule to 
meafure the difFerence, or of afcribing to 
each its allotted fliare of mental powers. 
Yet the moil minute difference, a ihade 
more or lefs, of this or that colour, mufl 
have as diftinft a caufe to produce it, as 
what divides a man from a monkey. And 
Mr. Hume, becaufe a tall bulky man, and 
alfo a fubtile philofopher, might have de- 
nied a capacity for metaphyseal fubtilty 
to all v^ho v^^anted thefe his great bodily at- 
tributes, as well as fuppofe capacity and 
vigour of mind incompatible with a flat 
nofe, curling hair, and a black ikin. 

It is faid of negroes, that their brain is 
blacklfh, and the glandula pinealis wholly 
black; a remark of which the Cartefian, 
with his audience-hall of perception, might 
make much. It has not come within my 
notice; nor on the principles of common 
fenfe can any thing be inferred from it, un- 
lefs anatomy had alfo determined that the 
jaundice affeds not thefe parts, as a proof that 
this blacknefs arifes not from the colour of 
the ikin. But it is obferved that their blood 
is of a dark red. This may be accounted for 
from their poor fait diet, and their working 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 21 § 

naked in the fun; and this colour in the 
blood may contribute to thefe appearances 
in the brain, while running through the ca- 
pillary veiTels that are fpread over every vilible 
part of it. 

The Ikin takes its colour from a gelatinous 
fubflance, placed between the fcarf and the 
proper fkin : this fubftance approaches to 
jet black in proportion as the place of their 
nativity lies near the equator. In bad health, 
it equally, with the northern white, in the 
fame circumftances, changes into a lickly 
yellow. Is not colour a precarious founda- 
tion for genius, feeing, in one view, we 
may fuppofe it to reduce the parts of a lick 
white man, in another to increafe thofe of a 
lick negroe, by bringing both nearer to a 
ratio of equality. 

Perhaps an enquiry into the nature of 
freckles in fair complexioned people might 
throw fome light on the blacknefs of the 
African. The feat of their blacknefs and of 
freckles is the fame; and they appear to be 
allied in nature, being both, probably, a 
fecretion, and coagulation from the capillary 
velTels, brought about in particular circum- 
ftances by the miniflry of the weather and 

O 4 fun :. 

2i6 On the Treatment and 

fun : for negroe children are born white, and 
the weather and fun caufe freckles. When, 
therefore, we can account for the pre-dif- 
poling caufe of freckles in particular perfons, 
we fhall know fomething of black fkins : for 
a freckle may be defined a partial black Ikin^ 
a black ikin an univerfal freckle. It may- 
be an help in the inquiry to remark, that a 
difpoiition to be freckled and ilrong red 
curling hair generally go together : as in 
this light, a black colour may be deemed 
the effed: of weather on a delicate fkin^ and 
freckles as a iimilar eiTed: on ikins of a 
coarfer, though not the coarfeft grain. It 
would be curious to obferve, among one's 
acquaintances, if their parts were in the in- 
verfe proportion of the finenefs of their 
fkins ^ or if a much freckled fkin, with its 
curling hair, as approaching to black, be a 
lign of the owner's fhupidity or dulnefs. 

In northern climates men have long hair, 
and iheep have wool ; in fouthern climates 
fheep have hair, and Africans v/oolly heads. 
In time we may be able to account for both 
without bringing genius into queilion. The 
flat nofes of negroes, in many cafes, may be 
accounted for from the cuilom of being con- 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 217 

ftantly tied on their mothers backs virhen 
infants, and nature has prepared them for 
this, by fhortening the cartilage of the nofe. 
Sometimes they are procured, as an agree- 
able feature, by violence. In general they 
are a national feature, like the high cheek 
bones of the Scotch. Calves, fwelling lit- 
tle, and placed high, are frequent, but not 
univerfal, or even general, in the legs of 
negroes -, nor feem they to prevail much 
more among them, efpecially among Creoles, 
than among the Creole whites, v^ho are ori- 
ginally from Europe. Some negroes have 
legs, that in clumiinefs and lov^^nefs of 
calves, may vie v/ith an Iridi porter. The 
fame may be affirmed of the prominent chin : 
it is frequent, not general ; a convex face 
is not a rare fight among them. If, there- 
fore, an oblongated, or concave face be, as 
is fuppofed, conned:ed with a fmall cere- 
bellum, it is not their general attribute. 
On the other hand, I have amufed myfelf 
with obferving, that fome of the moft im- 
proved of my acquaintances may be remark- 
ed for prominence of chin. 

Whether thefe diftinguifhing marks of 
negroes were, as we have fuppofed, fixed 


2i8 On the Treatment and 

hy the Author of nature, as part of that 
plan of particular fociety, and future re- 
union, that began with the race of man, 
whether caufed by climate, or given to ena- 
ble them to bear the fervours of the torrid 
zone, or whether all thefe caufes have co- 
operated, while v/e conclude not on our 
fuperiority over them, is matter of innocent 
difputation. Of the lafl-mentioned caufe 
it is certain, that though they work naked 
in the hottefi; hours, their ikin never blift- 
ers, while vagabond white failors blifter 
wherever the fun reaches them ; and that 
they enjoy hot dry weather, while moiflure 
and cold make them fhiver, and crouch 
down helplefs and fpent. On the whole, 
our obfervations are not of that length of 
time, and accuracy of manner, on which to 
build the fond opinion of northern fuperio- 
rity ; and reafon and revelation forbid the 
haughty thought. Suppoling the general fu- 
periority of Europe over the natives of the 
torrid zone, while we argue from thefe prin- 
ciples, how Ihall we account for the Mexi- 
cans being lefs black, and more civilized 
within the equatorial girdle, than the Cali- 
fornians, inhabiting the region of genius, 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 219 

and white fkins ? or, according to the author 
of the obfervation, " how can improved fo- 
** ciety change an apparent law of nature?" 
Shall we fuppofe the equatorial circle to 
have been originally allotted to the black 
race, and that they have been expelled from 
all parts of it, except Africa ? 


Objections to African Capacity, drawn from 
Anatomy, confidered. 

We have gone through the feveral par- 
ticulars, in which negroes vilibly differ from 
white men, and find, that fhould they even 
mark a different race, they can in no refped: 
determine their inferiority. We come now 
to confider, what may be indicated from di- 
minutive ikulls. 

A gentleman, juflly celebrated for his 
accuracy in the courfe of his anatomi- 
cal refearches, has difcovered a furprizing 
difference between European and African 
ikulls. This fuggefted to him the idea 
of drawing out a feries of heads in this 
gradation ; European, African, monkey, 
dog. The difference between the two firfl, 


220 On the Treatment and 

is indeed ftriking; the European, by the 
fwelling out of the hinder part of the fkull, 
fupporting itfelf fo as to fhew the face al- 
moft perpendicular to the table on which it 
is placed, while the African, for want of 
fuch fupport, recedes from the perpendicu- 
lar, and fhews an obvious elongation of the 
lower jaw. The ufe that he has made of 
the difcovery, has been the claffing of the 
nations by their attributes, without taking 
genius into account. He rather throws it 
out, but only as a conjecSture, that negroes 
might have been the originals of mankind, 
he having obferved, that in all birds and 
beafls, the originals, whence the tame forts 
are derived, are black, and that every varia-= 
tion from them approaches more or lefs to 

Other men, lefs modeft, have drawn from 
the obfervation, the conclufion of inferiority; 
it therefore will be necelTary to pay a par- 
ticular attention to it, or rather to their de- 
duction from it. And we fhall firft obferve, 
fuppofmg this diftindtion real, that it mufi: 
have fome benevolent and general purpofe; 
which purpofe we fhould fearch for, and 
follow out j which purpofe we know is ^not 


Conversion of African Slaves. 221 

to feed pride, or indulge cruelty, as thefe 
notions at prefent do. Matter of fad:, or 
the real agency of nature, wherever difco- 
vered, may be alTumed for the foundation of 
our reafoning ; nor fhould We vainly ima* 
gine that fhe ftands in need of our feigned 
apology, or wants to lie concealed behind 
the flimfy texture of our conje(5tures. We 
may be unacquainted with her workings, or 
with the particular purpofe that (he means 
to carry on. But we need not therefore fear, 
left what comes from her hands be found 
fraught v/ith abfurdity, or lead to princi- 
ples deftrudtive of humanity, or derogatory 
to wifdom and goodnefs. Let then the fad: 
be, that negroes are an inferior race; it is 
a conclulion, that hitherto has lain hid and 
unobferved, and while it leads only to an 
abufe of power in the fuperior race, it is 
better concealed, than drawn out into no- 
tice. Perhaps Providence may keep it 
doubtful, till men be fo far improved, as not 
to make an ill ufe of the difcovery. I am 
fure, at prefent, the power, if it be a right, 
is delegated to many improper perfons. In 
the mean time, while the fuperior race con- 
tinues likely to abufe it, every ftep that leads 


222 On the Treatment anb 

to the eflabllfhment of a point, the good 
purpofe of which lies hid, while the evil 
purpofe is ready at hand, fhould undergo 
and iland the feverefl: fcrutiny before it re- 
ceives our approbation. 

1 . In this cafe it muft be eftabliflied as a 
maxim, that except in cafes of idiotifm, or 
accidental ill conformation, the rational pow- 
ers are in proportion dired:ly as the quan- 
tity of brains. And hence it will follow, that 
with the foregoing exceptions, we may, a- 
mong Europeans, bring genius to actual 
admeafurement, and determine its degrees 
by the fize of the poffefTor's head, juft as an 
excifcman gauges a beer barrel. How muck 
of thofe wranglings, that render us contempt- 
ible in the eyes of all Europe, fhould we 
fave in both houfes, if our competitors for 
power, inflead of wafting the nation's time 
in a war of words, fliould each fubmit his 
head to this limple trial of its capacity ? 

2. In the fecond place, this difference 
muft be univerfal, without a iingle excep- 
tion, unlefs as above. For, as we have clear- 
ly proved, there muft always be a degree of 
excellence to diftinguifh the loweft of the 
fuperior order, from the higheft of the in- 
ff 5< ferior. 

Conversion of African Slaves. 223 

ferior. And this, it feems, in the cafe of 
the fkull, is a(5tually determined by the fame 
gentleman againfl: the fuppofition ; for there 
is in his polTeffion an European fkull of the 
fame proportion as his African. In con- 
firmation, I may fay, that I know many in- 
ftances, v^^here the African excels indivi- 
dual Europeans, in the exercife of the rea- 
foning faculties. 

3. That brains and reafon are conflantly 
in a direcfl ratio, vv^ill be difputed in deter- 
mining betv^^een the dog and monkey. I have 
heard much of monkeys j I have had op- 
portunities of obferving them j but nothing 
has led me to conclude, that they are equal, 
far lefs fuperior, in reafon ing and fagacity, 
to that humble friend of man, the faithful 
dog : certainly they are not fo teachable, nor 
fo capable of being attached by good offices, 
or gratitude. While on this head, v^e may 
obferve, that naturalifls fuppofe every vari- 
ous fpecies of dog to come from the fhep- 
herd's cur ; yet their fhapes and qualities 
differ more fenfibly, than does the African 
from the European. 

4, Another fad. to be eflabliflied is, that 
the difcriminating fize of the African fkull, 


224 ^^ '^"^ Treatment and 

and confequent inferiority of reafoning, con- 
tinue in the fixed civilized generations, and 
that, after no given period, do they ap- 
proach to European capacity. But allow- 
ing the difference to be at firfl real, I canj 
from obfervation, deny its continuance a- 
mong Creole negroes. 

Suppofmg the difl:ind:ion to be found 
among the wilder tribes, we may^ well ac- 
count for it in the following manner. 
Among favages, the powers of the mind are 
confined to few cbjedts; and though their 
acutenefs refpedling them, in particular cafes, 
may exceed what can be imagined in polilli- 
ed life, yet certain it is, that we have few 
well atteflcd inilances of the capacity of 
favages, in attaining the various accomplifh- 
ments, and abftradt notions, to be found in 
common among a civilized people. Their 
want of words in their native tongue, to ex- 
prefs, or com^municate their ideas, would 
be a fufficient bar. And this may be one 
great caufe why, in North-America, the 
children of favages, after having been edu- 
cated in the European manner, and taught 
to read and write, generally feize the firfl: 
opportunity of returning to the rude cuftoms 


Conversion of African Slaves. 225 

of their fathers. Now we can perceive a 
gracious defign in what Providence denies, 
as well as in what it beflows. A man capa- 
ble of varied knowledge, and verfatile exer- 
tion, in a fituation where he had few or no 
objed:s to work on, would be unhappy in 
himfelf, and a curfe to all around him.* 
His defire, and power of exertion, are there- 
fore confined within his opportunities and 
means of employment ; and we have only 
to try, and difcover the manner, in which 
nature has contrived to fit him for his rank. 
In doing this, we will confider the differ- 
ence between the fkuU and the reafon of an 
African, and thofe of an European, as an 
eflablifhed fad;, from which we are to 

Suppofe then an African, in his favage 
ftate, to have lefs brains, and in confequence 
lefs reafon, yet ftill a fufiiciency for his fitua- 
tion ; the queflion then is, whether his head, 
his brains, and his reafon, would not expand 
in the fucceflive generations of civilized life. 
We know, that independent o£ the imme- 

* What fad v/ork would the authors of our prefent new 
fyftems in philofophy, religion, and government, make among 
the fimplc Chicjucfavvsor Algonquins. 

P diate 

226 On the Treatment and 

diate organs of generation, the female, even 
in parts exadlly fimilar to thofe in the male, 
is particularly adapted to the bearing, bring- 
ing, and fuckling of children. Now the way 
of life, and the degree of exercife, that the 
female has ufed from her birth, may either 
check, or favour her conftrud:ion as a mo- 
ther. In the favage fhate, where hunting 
is the chief means of fubfiftence, food 
muft be fcanty, and only to be procured by 
patience and exertion. Savages therefore, 
both male and female, will be found lean, 
dry, mufcular. And this condition will par- 
ticularly afFed: the female, becaufe in al- 
moft every favage tribe, flie is coniidered 
as a flave, intended to labour for, and ferve 
her hulband. Will not thefe circumilances, 
her fcanty diet, and violent exercife, affed: 
the conformation of her body, and render the 
few children whom jfhe brings forth, lean, 
flender, their heads fmaller, more elongated, 
the brain of a drier, lefs elegant texture, 
jufl: capable of that degree of intelligence 
which the favage ftate requires ? And may 
we not aik. Is not this, in a certain degree, 
found to be the cafe of fuch women among 
us, as are habituated to hard labour ? Child- 

Conversion of African Slaves. 227 

ren of the loweft peafants, I believe, are as 
feldom found to take an high flation in 
literature, as in elegance of form. The mid- 
dle ranks of life, that fupply conveniences to 
foften, not luxuries to drown nature, are 
moil favourable to elegance of form and 
acutenefs of underflanding. Fifliermen's 
waives, in the north of Scotland, labour 
more hardly than any other women in Britain; 
and their neighbours look dov/n with con- 
tempt on the flupidity and ignorance found 
in the fiiliing villages. Hence may be ac- 
counted for the care taken by the ancient 
Bramins to regulate the diet, exercife, and 
paffions of their pregnant women. 

But fuppofe favages to be fo far civilized, 
as to be fixed in their habitations, to be well 
clothed, and properly fedj fuppofe their 
women treated with the regard that wdmen 
generally receive in polifhed life, eafed of 
labour, employed only in regulating their 
family, or fupported in idlenefs, or amufe- 
ment. Would not their bodies expand, and 
the fexual qualities attain an higher perfec- 
tion ? Would not the embryo be better 
nourifhed, the tender texture of the brain 
be lefs injured, than when the pregnant wo- 

P 2 man 

228 On the Treatment and 

man ufed fcanty nourifhment, and violent 
exercife ? Would not the children be brought 
forth more plump ? Would not the brain, 
favoured in its growth, force the fkull to take 
its natural fpherical form, and, according to 
our hypothefis, make the man more capable 
of improvement ? And, this, as far as my 
opportunities of obfervation have reached, is 
the cafe of negroes w^ho have been domef- 
tic ilaves for three or four generations in our 
colonies, or have been made free three or 
four generations back.* 

* The reafoning here ufed was fubmltted to the late cele- 
brated Dr. Hunter, who was pieafed to fay. That, as far as 
anatomy was concerned, he thought it fair and conclufive. 
The fame gentleman, in his courfe of ledlures at the Royal 
Academy, when Ihewing the gradation of fkuils, a difcovery 
which he candidly gave to its right Author, humanely obfervcd, 
that he drew no conclufion from the difference in them refpefling 
African inferiority. Several perfons, who had poffeffed the 
beft opportunities of obferving the capacity of Africans, had 
alTured him, that there was no difference to be feen, but what 
could be traced to their depreffed condition, and that there 
were inftances, where African ability had ftiewn itfelf in fpite 
of all the difadvantages under which it laboured. He under- 
ftood, that the very doubt whether they might not be an in- 
ferior race, operated againft the humane treatment of them ; 
and God forbid, faid he, that any vague conjedlure of mine 
ftiouid be ufed to confirm the prejudice.— Such was the 
modefty of true genius 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 229 

That there is any ePiential difference be- 
tween the European and African mental 
powers, as far as my experience has gone, I 
politively deny. That there may be an ac- 
cidental or circumftantial difference, I can 
eafily fuppofe, and, fhould it be true, think 
I can fee the reafon of it, as above explained. 
And this opinion is farther ftrengthened, by 
remarking, that, as far as the hiftory of 
polifhed fociety goes back, both Afiatic and 
European women have, from the firfl, been 
generally indulged, and accuftomed to a 
domeftic fedentary life, favourable to the 
bearing and fuckling of fuch children as 
might be capable of advancement in the 
departments of reafon, and in all that 
varied intelligence which polifhed life calls 
forth and ftands in need of. We have 
indeed one exception, and it is favourable to 
our conclufion. The Spartan women were 
accuflomed to a poor diet, and violent exer- 
cife, even to contending and wreftling with 
men. And it is well known, that among 
the polifhed Greeks, the Spartans were a na- 
tion of favages: their language, like that of 
Other favages, broken, yet exprellive; their 

P 3 know* 


On the Treatment and 

knowledge confined to war, but to the part 
of a mere foldier^ for they were once fo 
abfolutely without a citizen iit to command 
their army, that they were obliged to em- 
ploy a lame Athenian fidler as a general. 
Nay, fo late as the Periian war, they were 
forced to fend to the Athenians to get in- 
ftrucfled how to attack a barracado, made of 
baggage implements. Nor among the nume- 
rous artiils and philofophers that Greece pro- 
duced, are any celebrated as Spartans by 
birth. For, if Lycurgus is to be reckoned an 
exception, we may fay, that he formed the 
Spartan difcipline, but was not himfelf form- 
ed by it. If one or two individuals of that 
ftate are to be ranked among the philofo- 
phers, for uttering a few abrupt fentences, 
there is not a chief among the American 
favages but has an equal, perhaps a fuperior, 
title to the ilation. 


Conversion of African Slaves. 231 


Objedions to African Capacity, drawn from 
Obfervation, confidered. 

The ingenious author of a late Hiftory of 
Jamaica, has treated this fubjed: at confider- 
able length, and appears to have formed, 
from his own obfervation, the fame opinion 
as Hume's, of negroes being a diftindl race. 
To fuppofe them only a diflindt race, will 
not immediately affed: our arguments for 
their humane treatment and mental improve- 
ment j but the confequences ufually drawn 
from it fliock humanity, and check every 
hope of their advancement: for, if allowed 
to be a difiinB race, European pride imme- 
diately concludes them an inferior race, and 
then it follows, of courfe, that nature formed 
them to be flaves to their fuperiors. And 
the mafter having eftabliflied thefe premifes 
generally, and complimented himfelf with 
a place among the fuperior beings, fairly 
concludes himfelf loofed from all obligations, 
but thofe of intereft, in his condudl towards 
them. A horfe and a bull, are animals 

P 4 each 

232 On the Treatment and 

each of a different fpecies ; but the fuperiority 
has not been eflablifhed between them, nor 
the inferior brought into bondage by the lordly 
mafler, For argument's fake, fuppofe negroes 
of a different and even of an inferior race, 
ftill, we know they are-<:apable of forming, 
and actually have formed, free independent 
focieties^ and, though they have not yet at- 
tained the refinements and luxuries of Eu- 
rope, yet have they Ihewn no fmall ingenu- 
ity in compacting themfelves together, and 
made no mean progrefs in many of the arts 
of life. And to help to compofe, and be a 
member of a free ilate, is more honourablcj 
and gives greater fcope to the mental powers, 
than to be the moftpolifhed flave in America 
or Europe. Still, being fuch, are they to be 
dragged away from a country adapted to their 
conftitutions, from plenty of nutritious food, 
to which they have been accuffomed from 
infancy,* to work as Haves, hungry, naked, 
torn with ftripes, in a diilant, unfavourable 
clime, for the avarice and lufts of, perhaps, 

* LejR: this fhould feem to contradift the reafoning drawn 
fyom their original favage ftate, it is neceflary to obferve that 
the Haves, as brought from Africa, differ greatly, in refped of 
ability, according as the nation from which they have been 
kidnapped has advanced moce or lefs in fecial life, 


Conversion of African Slaves. 233 

feme of the mofl worthlefs perfons of the 
pretendedly fuperior families, with whom 
they had neither acquaintance or connedlion ? 
Suppofe different races, and that they vary in 
point of excellence j yet, in what chapter of 
nature's law is it declared, that one quarter 
of the globe fhall breed flaves for the reft? 
Where (liall we find a charter conferring au- 
thority on the one, and afcertaining the fub- 
miiiion of the other? Are no conditions an- 
nexed, no rights referved, which, when 
violated, the fubjedied race can plead before 
their common Lord ? Such a ftate cannot be 
imagined as exifting under the government of 
God: it is blafphemy againft his benevolence 
even to fuppofe it. The inanimate and brute 
creation was fitted for and fubmitted to 
man's dominion ^ but man himfelf was left 
independent of every perfonal claim in his 
fellows. And nothing but an implied vo- 
luntary furrender of his independency to 
fociety, for the benefits of law, can controul 
or lefTen his claim. But North- American or 
Weft- Indian llavery implies no furrender, 
fuppofes no fubmiflion, but to necefhty and 


234 ^^ '^^^ Treatment AND 

Had nature intended negroes for llavery, 
fhe would have endowed them with many- 
qualities which they now want. Their food 
would have needed no preparation, their bo- 
dies no covering; they would have been born 
without any fentiment for liberty; and, pof- 
feffing a patience not to be provoked, would 
have been incapable of refentment or oppo- 
iition; that high treafon againfl the divine 
right of European dominion. A horfe or 
a cow, when abufed, beaten, or ftarved, will 
try to get out of the reach of the lafh, and 
make no fcruple of attempting the neareft 
inclofure to get at pafture. But we have not 
heard of their withdrawing themfelves from 
the fervice of an hard mailer, nor of aveng- 
ing with his blood the cruelty of his treat- 

To fuppofe different, efpecially fuperior 
and inferior races, fuppofes different rules 
of condud, and a different line of duty ne- 
ceflary to be prefcribed for them. But v^^here 
do we find traces of this difference in the 
prefent cafe? Vice never appeared in Africa 
in a more barbarous and fhocking garb, than 
fhe is feen every day in the mofl polifhed 
parts of Europe. Europe has not fhewn 


Conversion of African Slaves. 235 

greater elevation of fentlment than has fhone 
through the gloom of Africa. We can fee 
caufe v^^hy the nations, into which for the 
purpofes of fociety mankind has been di- 
vided, fhould have charad:eriflic marks of 
complexion and features, (and almoft the 
whole of the prefent fubjed: of difcuffion 
may be refolved into thefe) to tie, by the 
refemblance, fellow-citizens more ciofely and 
affectionately together. And, be it remarked, 
that thefe figns are mere arbitrary impref- 
iions, that neither give nor take away animal 
or rational powers; but, in their efFed:, are 
confined to the purpofe for which they appear 
to have been imprefled, the binding of tribes 
and families together. Farther, climate, 
mode of living, and accidental prevalence 
of particular cuitoms, will account for many 
national charad:eriflics. 

But the foul is a fimple fubftance, not to 
be diftinguiilied by fquat or tall, black, 
brown, or fair. Hence all the difference 
that can take place in it is a greater or lefs 
degree of energy, a more or lefs complete 
correfpondence of a6lion, with the circum- 
ftances in which the agent is placed. In 
(hort, v/e can have no idea of intelled:, but 


2^6 On the Treatment and 

as ailing with infinite power and perfed 
propriety in the Deity, and with various de- 
grees of limited power and propriety, in 
the feveral orders of intelligent created be- 
ings; fo that there is nothing to diftinguifh 
thefe feveral created orders, but more or lefs 
power; and nothing to hinder us from fup- 
poling the poffible gradual advancement of 
the lower into the higher ranks of created 
beings. But we cannot, in like manner, 
ipeak of the change of a bull into an horfe, 
or of a fwine into an elephant. The anni- 
hilation of the one is included in the tranf- 
mutation into the other, becaufe in it that 
is loft which conftituted the fpecific differ- 

We can plainly fee the propriety of different 
purfuits, and different degrees of exertion of 
the reafoning energetic powers in the feveral 
individuals that compofe a community, for 
carrying on the various purpofes of fociety. 
But there is not, therefore, a neceffity to have 
recourfe to different fpecies of fouls, as if 
the peafant had one fort, the mechanic a 
fecond, the man of learning a third; yet 
whatever concludes for the propriety of races 
differing in point of excellence, will con-? 

Conversion of African Slaves. 237 

elude alfo for a difference in thefe. And 
we fee, in contradidion to all fuch reveries, 
that communities nourifh in proportion a« 
the lefs of any other difference takes place, 
than that in vi^hich fociety naturally difpofeth 
of its members for their mutual or joint 
benefit. The foul is verfatile, and being fimple 
in itfelf takes its manner and tindure from 
the objeds around itj it univerfally appears 
to be fitted only for that charader in which 
it is to ad:: but that this is not an indelible 
charader appears plainly in every page of the 
hiftory of mankind. Look into our books 
of travels, and, in perfons no ways remark- 
able for genius or invention, admire the al- 
mofl incredible efforts and produdions of 
neceffity. How often has the ihepherd fhone 
out as a ffatefman, and the peafant triumphed 
as a general ? Can we fuppofe greater differ- 
ence between the African and European, than, 
for example, between the keeper of fi:ieep, and 
the Governor of men^ between leading an 
herd of gregarious animals out to paffure, 
and direding the complicated genius and 
bent of that various creature man, either 
to counterad or attain the purpofes of fociety: 
yet the only difference between them lies in 
the diredion -given to the mental faculties. 


238 On the Treatment and 

Thus far we have oppofed opinion vAth 
argument, and, excepting a remark of which 
we fhall take notice, we may leave all that 
the author above-mentioned has advanced of 
the inferiority of negroes, to be contrafted 
with the inftances given by himfelf of their 
energy, abilities, arid fentiment, and to be 
compared with the inftances of ftupidity to be 
found in the moil polifhed nations. For, as 
we have proved, if we eftablifli the notion of 
different races, we muil fliill draw a line be- 
tween the highefl of the one, and the lowefl 
of that next above it. Particularly, we may 
fay of his example, Francis Williams the 
negroe poet and mathematician, that though 
his verfes bear no great marks of genius, yet, 
there have been bred at the fame univerlity 
an hundred white mailers of arts, and many 
dodors, who could not improve them 3 and, 
therefore, his particular fuccefs in the fields 
of fcience cannot operate againfl the natural 
abilities of thofe of his colour, till it be 
proved, that every white man bred there has 
outflripped him. But allowance is to be made 
for his being a folitary elTay, and the pofli- 
bility of a wrong choice having been made 
in him. Childifh fprightlinefs, for which 


Conversion of African Slaves. 239- 

it feems he was fingled out for the trial, 
is not always, nor indeed often, a faithful 
promifer of manly parts ; too frequently it 
withers without fruit, like the early blolToms 
of the fpring. Other gentlemen of Jamaica 
fpeak highly of his abilities, and of the 
favour they procured for him. 

The remark in this author referred to, is 
that Mulattoes cannot propagate their kind 
with, each other, or, at lead, that their chil- 
dren are few and {hort-lived. Now it fhould 
be obferved that Mulattoe girls, during the 
flower of their age, are univerfally facrificed 
to the luft of white men^ in fome in- 
ftances, to that of their own fathers. In 
our town, the fale of their firft commerce, 
with the other fex, at an unripe age, is an 
article of trade for their mothers and elder 
lifters 5 nay, it is not an uncommon thing for 
their miftreftes, chafte matrons, to hire them 
out, and take an account of their gains; or, 
if they be free, they hire their fervice and 
their perfons, to fome one of the numerous 
band of batchelors. In this commerce they 
often contrad; difeafes, and generally conti- 
nue in it till grown haggard and worn out. 
Thus few Mulattoes marry in their own rank, 
and fewer in a ilate of health favourable to 



On the Treatment and 

population. But where the above clrcum- 
ilances take not place, Mulattoe marriages are 
extremely prolific, in every inflance v^ithin 
my knowledge; and I can recollect more than 
fix fuch families where there is a numerous 
healthy offspring, and no doubt to be enter- 
tained of their legitimacy. As intelle(fl is 
the peculiar attribute of man, and is a 
fimple fubftance, it is incumbent on thofe 
who maintain a difference in races and na- 
tural abilities, to tell us how the fuperior 
intelledls of a white perfoUj and the inferior 
intellects of a negroe unite, and become 
a tertium quid, in their Mulattoe offspring. 
Is nature at the expence of forming feparate 
and different conditioned intelleds for all 
the variety of cafls between complete white 
and black in our feveral colonies ? * 


* In the above difcuffion we have aflumed the exiftence of 
intelleft as confidently, as if modern philofophy had not afferted 
man to be organized matter. The affertion, though unac- 
companied by convidlion, is fuch a check to every afpiring 
thought, that hardly, fince I heard of the difcovery, have I 
been able to reconcile one to myfelf; nor can I endure an opi- 
nion which would rob me of a comfort that fmoothed every ill 
of life, and encouraged me to look up to futurity for a recom- 
pence, which my heart told me was referved for the humble and 


Conversion of African Slaves. 241 


African Capacity vindicated from Experience. 

Having fhewn how little can be rationally 
concluded againfl the capacity of negroes, 


benevolent. It is true, that the abettors of it profefs to believe, 
with Chriftians, man's future refloration. But if man be a 
mere combination of atoms, when that combination is broken 
by death, the Being formed by it is annihilated. A reunion. 
of the fame particles v/ill conftitute a new Being, having no 
moral refpeft to what happened to the firft, neither ftained with 
its blame, nor inheriting its merit. Indeed imagination can- 
not combine together the idea of merit and matter, becaufe 
all the motions or aftions (if we could ufe the term) of matter 
muft be necefTary and mechanical. The villain who murders, 
the Samaritan who J'aues, a man, deferve equal applaufe. 
Volition, or the aft of thinking, brings into exiftence fome 
new motion or form. But can we imagine fuch a power lodged 
with matter, which mufl: itfelf receive from without every par- 
ticular impreffion, every new direftion ? 

Suppofe matter capable of thinking, and the man to 
have every nerve employed in purfuing a certain train of 
reafoning ; from what energy, what attribute of matter fhall 
we deduce the power of flopping in the full career of inquiry, 
and taking at once an oppofite path ? If thinking be the effedt 
ef organization, we can fuppofe no principle, no power lodged 
in the man to controul or direfl it. It muft proceed me- 
chanically, till it be ftopt mechanically. The man who refledls 
on what pafleth in his mind, will perceive a difference between 
that inward ad which weighs circumllances, and that which 

Q^ determines 


On the Treatment and 

from their equatorial fettlement, flat nofe, 
woolly head, projeding chin, high calves, 


determines him on adlion. But deliberation is incompatible 
with every notion of matter, becaufe it muft ever be forcibly 
carried away by the predominant weight or power- To de- 
liberate on, or balance circumftances, muft fuppofe fome prin- 
ciple endowed with the power of eledlion; but of this, matter, 
as matter, is incapable. 

We cannot take into account what the Deity poffibly can do 
in the plenitude of power. Wherever his works lie open to 
inquiry, we obferve, that he invariably proceeds according to 
the original nature of the fubjedl. Fire never freezes, froft 
never warms. But if the Deity give to matter the power of 
thinking, he fuperadds an attribute analogous to no other 
quality of matter within our knowledge. He can give to a 
bull the form and attributes of an horfe. But is not the bull 
annihilated, and a new animal formed in his ftead? In like 
manner, to give to matter the ability of thinking, it muft be 
changed [into fpirit, becaufe the attribute of thinking is in- 
compatible with matter, even as the diftinguifhing qualities of 
an horfe cannot co-exift with thofe of a bull. 

The weight of a material being is the weight of its parts 
taken together, and may be divided into as many lefTer weights 
as there are component parts ; its extent is a number of extents, 
in proportion to the number of its extended parts; and thus it 
holds of every quality, with which we are acquainted, except 
this new difcovered attribute, no new quality being produced 
by the compofition. We can affirm nothing of the whole that 
may not be affirmed in part of every particle. B ut we cannot 
thus divide volition into parts, or fcatter it among the feveral 
limbs or organs, nor even Ihace it between the cerebrum and 
cerebellum. It is one fimple uncompounded aft. 


Conversion of African Slaves. 243 

and black fkin, we come to fadt. Now we 
know, that houfe negroes, who are generally 
Creoles, and are converfant with their white 
mailers, have all the addrefs, intrigue, and 
cunning of family fervants in Europe. In 
their mafters they can mark the ridiculous 
point, the improper condud:, and often give 
thefe fuperior beings that advice, which they 
have not wifdom enough to follow; often man- 
age their foibles, and mould them to their own 
interell. If, according to the Marchionefs 
d'Ancre, favouritifm and influence be marks 
of fuperiority, many Weft-Indian families 
muft allow a preference to the Africans. 

Negroes are capable of learning any thing 
that requires attention and corredtnefs of 
manner. They have powers of defcription 
and mimickry that would not have dif- 

If it be neceffary to fuppofe a principle diftinft from matter, 
to give form, motion, order, and defign to things, may we not 
alfo fuppofe, that fuch creatures as men, who feel thefe aftive 
powers within themfelves to a certain degree, may alfo be 
endowed with a portion of that fpirit, which alone can begin 
and imprefs motion on inert matter. 

Merit has been afcribed to him who neglefted the body to 
have leifure to improve the mind j but on this fcheme it is in- 
tirely abfurd. He who cares for the body cares for the whole 
man. A glutton is not an objedl of ridicule, but of fober 
praife ; he is employed in pcrfefting his ability to think. 

0^2 graced 

244 ^N THE Treatment and 

graced the talents of our modern Arifto- 
phanes. The difdllation of rum, the tem- 
pering of the cane juice for fugar, which 
may be confidered as nice chemical opera- 
tions, are univerfally committed to them. 
They become good mechanics 3 they ufe the 
fquare and compafs, and eafily become mailers 
of whatever buiinefs they are put to. They 
have a particular turn for mulic, and often 
attain a confiderable proficiency in it with- 
out the advantage of a mafter. Negroe fick 
nurfes acquire a furprizing fkill in the cure 
of ordinary difeafes, and often conquer difor- 
ders that have baffled an hoft of regulars. 
Nor want they emulation, in whatever their 
obfervation can reach. Hence our black 
beaus, black belles, black gamefters, black 
keepers, black quacks, black conjurers, and 
all that varietv of charadler, which ilirikes in 
their mailers, or promifes to add to their 
own dignity or intereil. But what can we 
exped: them to attempt in the higher depart- 
ments of reafon ? Their ilaviih employments 
and condition ; their being abandoned to 
the caprice of any mailer -, the fubjedion in 
which it is thought necelTary to keep them 
all I thefe things deprefs their minds, and 


Conversion of African Slaves. 245 

fubdue whatever is manly, fplrited, ingenu- 
ous, independent, among them. And thefe 
are v/eights fufficient to crufli a firfh-rate 
human genius. 

Had it been the lot of a paradoxical Hume, 
or of a benevolent Kaims, to have cultivat- 
ed the fugar-cane, under a planter, in one 
of our old iflands ; the firft probably would 
have tried to have eked out his fcanty pit- 
tance of two pounds of flour or grain per 
week, by taking up the profeffion of a John 
Crewman, or conjurer; and doubtlefs would 
have got many a flogging for playing tricks 
with, and impofing on the credulity of his 
fellows, to cheat them of their allowance. 
The turn of the other to works of tafl:e 
might have expreflTed itfelf in learning to 
blow a rude fort of muflc from his noftril, 
through an hollowed piece of ftick; or, if 
blefl^ed with an indulgent mafl:er, he might 
have learned to play by ear a few minuets, 
and fiddle a few country dances, to enable 
the family and neighbours to pafs an even- 
ing cheerfully together. 

The truth is, a depth of cunning that en- 
ables them to over-reach, conceal, deceive, 
is the only province of the mind left for 

0^3 them. 

246 On the Treatment and 

them, as flaves, to occupy. And this they 
cultivate, and enjoy the fruits of, to a fur- 
prizing degree. I have, as a magiftrate, 
heard examinations and defences of culprits, 
that for quibbling, fubterfuges, and fubtilty, 
would have done credit to the abilities of an 
attorney, mofl: notorioully converfant in the 
villainous tricks of his profeffion. Their 
command of countenance is fo perfedt, as 
not to give the IcalT: clue for difcovering the 
truth i nor can they be caught tripping in 
a ftory. Nothing in the turn or degree 
of their mental faculties, diftinguifhes them 
from Europeans, though fome difference 
mufl: appear, if they v^ere of a different or 
an inferior race. 

I had a young fellow, who was a noto- 
rious gambler, idler, liar, and man of plea- 
fure 'j yet fo well did he lay his fchemes, fo 
plaufibly did he on all occalions account 
for his time and conducft, that I, who could 
not punifh unlefs I could convince the cul- 
prit that I had undoubted proof of his 
guilt, was hardly ever able to find an op- 
portunity of correcting him. This lad, 
when he came a boy from Africa, /hewed 
marks of fentiment^ and of a training abovp 


Conversion of African Slaves. 247 

the common run of negroes. But (lavery, 
even in the mildeft degree, and his accom- 
panying with Haves, gave him fo worth- 
lefs, diffipated a turn, that I was obliged 
to fend him out of the family, and have 
him taught a trade in hopes of his refor- 
mation. By this he infenlibly acquired a 
little application, and has fince attached him- 
felf to a wife. His father, he fays, was a 
man of property, had a large houfhold, and 
many wives. He was kidnapped. 

There is another lad, who could ftand 
without flinching to be cut in pieces by 
the whip, and not utter a groan. As whip- 
ping was a triumph, inftead of a punifli- 
ment to him, I was obliged to overlook the 
moft notorious faults, or affedl generoufly 
to pardon them, rather than pretend to cor- 
rect them. Yet this proceeds not from in- 
fenfibility of pain, for if bleeding be pre- 
fcribed for him when lick, he cries like a 
child, and flirinks from the operation. 
About twelve years ago he was caught in a 
fault, that by the cuftom of the colony 
would have juftified his mafter in carry- 
ing his punifhment to any degree, ihort of 
^xtrerpity. Pains were taken to fet tPie 
Q^ 4, enormity 

24S On the Treatment and 

enormity of it before him, and he was free- 
ly pardoned, and his fellows were ftridly 
forbidden ever to upbraid him with it. 
Since that time he has behaved remarkably 
well and truil- worthy, and fhewn a very 
uncommon attachment to the family. A 
third boy, who is fenfible as a little lord 
of every affront offered to his dignity, could 
fliand with the fullen air of a floic to re- 
ceive the feverefl corre(flion. 

In truth, in fpite of the difadvantages un- 
der which they labour, individuals, on par- 
ticular occafions, have fliewn an elevation 
of fentiment that would have done honour 
to a Spartan. The Spectator, No. 215, has 
celebrated a rude inflance in two negroes, in 
the iiland of St. Chriilopher, which on 
inquiry I find to be true. I will confirm 
this by the relation of a deed, that happen- 
ed within thefe thirty years, for which I 
have no name. As I had my information 
from a friend of the mailer's, in the mailer's 
prefence, who acknowledged it to be ge- 
nuine, the truth of it is indifputable. The 
only liberty I have taken with it, has been 
to give words to the fentiment that infpir- 
cd it. 


Conversion of African Slaves. 249 

Qua{hi was brought up in the family 
with his mailer, as his play- fellow, from his 
childhood. Being a lad of towardly parts, 
he rofe to be driver, or black overfeer, un- 
der his mafler, when the plantation fell to 
him by fucceffion. He retained for his 
mafler the tendernefs that he had felt in» 
childhood for his play-mate ; and the re- 
fped; with which the relation of mafler in- 
ipired him, was foftened by the affection 
which the remembrance of their boyifh in- 
timacy kept alive in his breafl. He had 
no feparate interefl of his own, and in his 
mafler's abfence redoubled his diligence, 
that his affairs might receive no injury from 
it. In fliort, here was the mofl delicate, 
yet mofl flrong, and feemingly indifToluble 
tie, that could bind mafler and flave toge- 

Though the mafter had judgment to know 
when he was well ferved, and policy to re- 
ward good behaviour, he was inexorable 
when a fault was committed ; and when 
there was but an apparent caufe of fuf- 
picion, he was too apt to let prejudice 
ufurp the place of proof. Quafhi could 
not exculpate himfelf to his fatisfadion, for 


250 On the Treatment and 

fomething done contrary to the difcipllne 
of the plantation, and was threatened with the 
ignominious punifhment of the cart-whip ; 
and he knew his mafter too well, to doubt 
of the performance of his promife. 

A negroe, who has grown up to manhood, 
without undergoing a folemn cart- whipping, 
as fome by good chance will, efpecially if 
diflinguifhed by any accomplifliment among 
his fellows, takes pride in what he calls the 
fmoothnefs of his fkin, its being unrazed 
by the whipi and he would be at more 
pains, and ufe more diligence to efcape fuch 
a cart- whipping, than many of our lower 
fort would ufe to ihun the gallows. It is 
not uncommon for a fober good negroe to 
flab himfelf mortally, becaufe fome boy- 
overfeer has flogged him, for what he reclc^ 
oned a trifle, or for his caprice, or threat- 
ened him with a flogging, when he thought 
he did not deferve it. Quafhi dreaded this 
mortal wound to his honour, and flipt away 
unnoticed, with a view to avoid it. 

It is ufual for flaves, who exped: to be 
punifhed for their own fault, or their maA 
ter's caprice, to go to fome friend of their 
mafter's, and beg him to carry them home. 

Conversion of African Slaves. 251 

and mediate for them. This is found to be 
fo ufeful, that humane mailers are glad of 
the pretence of fuch mediation, and will 
fecretly procure it to avoid the neceflity of 
punilhing for trifles -, it otherwife not being 
prudent to pafs over without corredion, a 
fault once taken notice of; while by this 
method, an appearance of authority and 
difcipline is kept up, without the feverity of 
it. Quaflii therefore withdrew, refolved to 
fhelter himfelf, and fave the gloiTy honours 
of his fkin, under favour of this cuftom, 
till he had an opportunity of applying to 
an advocate. He lurked among his mafter's 
negroe huts, and his fellow flaves had too 
much honour, and too great a regard for 
him, to betray to their mafter the place of 
his retreat. Indeed, it is hardly pollible in 
any cafe, to get one flave to inform againfl 
another, fo much more honour have they 
than Europeans of low condition. 

The following day a feaft was kept, on 
account of his mafter's nephew then coming 
of age ; amidfl: the good humour of which, 
Quafhi hoped to fucceed in his application ; 
but before he could execute his defign, per- 
haps jull as he was fetting out to go and 


2^2 On the Treatment and 

folicit this mediation, his mafter, while 
walking about his fields, fell in with him. 
Quafhi, on difcovering him, ran ofF, and 
the mafter, who is a robufl: man, purfued 
him. A ftone, or a clod, tripped Quafhi 
up, Julias the other reached out his hand 
to feize him. They fell together, and 
wreftled for the maflery, for Quaihi alfo 
was a ilout man, and the elevation of his 
mind added vigour to his arm. At lail, 
after a fevere ftruggle, in which each had 
been feveral times uppermoft, Quafhi got 
firmly feated on his mailer's breaft, now 
panting and out of breath, and with his 
weight, his thighs, and one hand, fecured 
him motionlefs. He then drew out a iharp 
knife, and while the other lay in dreadful 
expectation, helplefs, and Ihrinking into 
himfelf, he thus addrefTed him. ** Mafter, 
*' I was bred up with you from a child ; 
** I was your play-mate when a hoy; I 
** have loved you as myfelf j your interefi; 
** has been my ftudy ; I am innocent of the 
** caufe of your fufpicion ; had I been guil- 
** ty, my attachment to you might have 
** pleaded for me. Yet you have condemned 
** me to a puni£hment, of which I mufl 

** ever 

Conversion of African Slaves. 253 

** ever have borne the difgraceful marks; 
" thus only can I avoid them." With thefe 
words, he drew the knife with all his flrength 
acrofs his own throat, and fell down dead 
without a groan, on his mafter, bathing 
him in his blood. 

Had this man been properly educated ; had 
he been taught his importance as a member 
of fociety ; had he been accuftomed to weigh 
his claim to, and enjoy the poffeffion of the 
unalienable rights of humanity j can any 
man fuppofe him incapable of making a 
progrefs in the knowledge of religion, in 
the refearches of reafon, or the works of 
art ? Or can it be affirmed, that a man, who 
amidfl the difadvantages, and gloom of 11a- 
very, had attained a refinement of fentiment, 
to which language cannot give a name, 
which leaves the bulk of polifhed fociety 
far behind, could want abilities to acquire 
arts and fciences, which we too often find 
coupled with a fawning, a mean, a flavifli 
fpirit ? Others may, I will not believe it. 

This is a truly mournful inftance of a 
noblenefs and grandeur of mind in a 
negroe. The following, though allied to 
diftrefs, is of a lefs awful nature, but will 
(hew, that all the nobler qualities of the 


254 On the Treatment and 

heart are not monopolized by the white 

Jofeph Rachel was a black trader in Bar- 
badoesj he dealt chiefly in the retail way, 
and was fo fair and complaifant in bufinefs, 
that in a town filled with little peddling 
fhops, his doors were thronged with cuftom- 
ers. I have often dealt with him, and found 
him remarkably honeft and obliging. If any 
one knew not where to procure an article, 
Jofeph would be at pains to fearch it out, 
to fupply him, without making an advan- 
tage of it. In fhort, his charad:er was fo 
fair, his manners fo generous, that the befl 
people (hewed him a regard, which they 
often deny men of their own colour, becaufe 
not bleifed with like goodnefs of heart. 

In 1756 a fire happened, which burned down 
great part of the town, and ruined many of 
the inhabitants. Jofeph luckily lived in a 
quarter that efcaped the deftrudlion, and 
expreifed his thankfulnefs, by foftening the 
diftrefles of his neighbours. Among thofe 
who had loft their all by this heavy misfor- 
tune, was a man to whofe family Jofeph, in 
the early part of life, owed fome obligati- 
ons. This man, by too great hofpitality, 


Conversion of African Slaves. 255 

an excefs common enough in the Weft- 
Indies, had involved his affairs, before the 
fire happened, and his eftate lying in houfes, 
that event intirely ruined him; he efcaping 
with only the clothes on his back. Amidft 
the cries of mifery and want, which excited 
Jofeph's compaffion, this man's unfortunate 
lituation claimed particular notice. The ge- 
nerous, the open temper of the fufferer, the 
obligations that Jofeph had to his family, 
were fpecial and powerful motives for adling 
towards him the friendly part. 

Jofeph held his bond for fixty pounds 
fterling. ** Unfortunate man," fays he, " this 
*' ihall never come againft thee. Would hea- 
** ven thou could fettle all thy other matters 
** aseafily ! But how am I fure that I ihall 
** keep in this mind : may not the love of 
*' gain, efpecially, when, by length of time, 
** thy misfortune has become familiar to me, 
*' return with too ftrong a current, and bear 
** down my fellow-feeling before it? But for 
*' this I have a remedy. Never fhalt thou ap- 
** ply for the affiftance of any friend againft 
" my avarice." He got up, ordered a current 
account that the man had with him, to a 
confiderable amount, to be drawn out, and 


256 On tjie Treatment and 

in a whim, that might have called up a fmile 
on the face of charity, filled his pipe, fat 
down again, twifted the bond, and lighted 
his pipe with it. While the account 
was drawing out, he continued fmoking, in a 
ftate of mind that a monarch might envy. 
When finifhed, he went in fearch of his 
friend, with the account difcharged, and the 
mutilated bond in his hand. On meeting 
with him, he prefented the papers to him 
with this addrefs. ** Sir, I am fenfibly af- 
** fe(fted with your misfortunes 5 the obli- 
*' gations that I have received from your 
** family, give me a relation to every branch 
** of it. I know that your inability to fa- 
*' tisfy for what you owe, gives you more 
** uneafinefs than the lofs of your own fub- 
** fiance. That you may not be anxious on 
** my account in particular, accept of this 
** difcharge, and the remains of your bond. 
" I am over paid in the fatisfadion that I 
*' feel, from having done my duty. I beg 
*' you to confider this only as a token of 
** the happinefs that you will impart to 
** me, whenever you put it in my power to 
** do you a good office." One may eafily 
guefs at the man's feelings, on being thus 


Conversion of African Slaves. 257 

generoully treated, and how much his mind 

muft have been ftrengthened to bear up 

againll: his misfortunes. I knew him a few 

years after this ; he had got a fmall poft in 

one of the forts, and preferved a decent 


But his hofpitable turn continued even 

after he had lofl: the means of indulging it. 

He has often invited five or fix acquaintances, 

or fi:rangers, to fpend the evening when he 

has not had even a candle to light up before 

them. Vv^henever his fervant faw him come 

home thus attended, and heard him call 

away, as in his better days, his refouroe was 

to run over to Jofeph, and inform him that 

fuch and fuch gentlemen were to fup with 

his mafier. Immediately the fpermaceti 

candle, and punch, and wine of the beft 

quality were on the table, as if by magic; 

and foon after Jofeph's fervants appeared, 

bringing in a neatfupper, and waiting on the 

company. All this was done without a 

profpe6l of return, purely to indulge his 

gratitude, and fupport his friend's credit. 

And will any man pretend to look down 

with contempt on one capable of fuch gene- 

rofity, becaufe the colour of his fkin is 

black ? 

' R Some 

258 On the Treatment and 

Some readers, perhaps, may give Joleph 
more credit for the following ftory. A colo- 
nel , a moft penurious mifer, ufed 

to call frequently at Jofeph's fhop, on pre- 
tence of cheapening cocoa : he was always 
fure to carry away as much for a tafle as his 
pocket would hold, but never bought any. 
Jofeph, at firfl, was at a lofs what to do. 
He knew, that, being a negroe, his evidence 
would not be taken in court, even for the 
value of a penny againil a white man. But 
the colonel continuing his depredations, he 
was loth to fee his cocoa diminiili daily be- 
fore him without any thing in return for it. 
He therefore hired a white man for clerk, 
and ordered him to weigh out a bag of cocoa, 
and keep it particularly under his own care, 
to fupply the colonel with taftings whenever 
he ihould call. The colonel foon emptied the 
bag, and then Jofeph delivered in his ac- 
count. The colonel ftormed, fwore, and 
threatened till out of breath, when Jofeph 
took the opportunity of informing his honour 
of the fteps he had taken. His avarice now 
alarmed him with the expences of a law- 
-fuit: and fuggefted that being fo fairly 
taken in, there was nothing to be done, in 


Conversion of African Slaves. 259 

prudence, but to pay the money peace- 
ably. By this innocent ftratagem Jofeph 
got rid of the colonel's tafting vifits. 

I {hall only give one more inflance 
in favour of the negroes ; though a vo- 
lume might eafily be filled. A lieutenant 
of a regiment in garrifon at St. Chriftopher's 
died, and left his fon an orphan. A particular 
family had promifed him, on his death-bed, 
to take care of his boy; but he v^^as wholly 
abandoned, and forced to keep among the 
negroe children, and live on fuch fcraps as 
he could find. In this flate, he caught that 
loathfome difeafe the yaws, which became a 
new reafon for giving him up to his fate. 
In this ulcerated condition, Babay, a poor 
negrefs, found him, took him into her hut, 
got him cured, and maintained him till he 
was able to work for himfelf. The firfl money 
that he earned went to purchafe her freedom. 
He took her home to his houfe, and, as long 
as (lie lived afterwards, which might be 
upwards of forty years, treated her with the 
moH: refpe(5tful kindnefs. He gave her a moffc 
expenfive burial, and had a funeral fermon 
preached over her. As that fermon was de- 
livered before people acquainted with her 
charader, and mentioned fuch circumftan- 

R 2 ces 

26o On the Treatment and 

ces as I vvifh here to remark, I fhall give an 
extrad: of what was addreffed to the flaves 
that attended, relating to her. '* This good 
** woman was like many of you, a ilave^ and, 
*' as iuch, laboured under every difadvantage 
*' which you can plead for not doing your 
** duty; yet, in this fituation, flie fhewed, 
** in her conduct, the noblefl: fruits of re- 
** ligion and charity. A helplefs child, left 
*' an orphan, in a ftrange country, far from 
*' any relation or even acquaintance to his 
*' family, abandoned by thofe who under- 
" took to rear him, from her alone could 
*' raife pity, or engage attention. When left, 
*' by all of his own rank and colour, to 
*' perifh in a loathfome difeafe, though fon 
** to a fervant of the public, with whom every 
*• true lover of his country ihould have 
*' fympathized, fhe, alone, lodged him, 
** nurfed him carefully, got him cured, and 
*' put him in a way to provide for himfelf. 
*' This inftance of generofity, found in one 
" of her condition, is a proof that noble and 
** dilinterefted adions are not, as many think, 
** confined to advantages of birth or educa- 
" tion; for fhe had nothing to dired: her 
** but God's grace working on a tradable 

** heart: 

Conversion of African Slaves. 261 

" heart: and this benevolent temper (hewed 
*' itfelf in every part of her behaviour through 
** life, and was accompanied in her with a 
*' true fenfe of religion. She was well ac- 
" quainted with what fhe ought to know and 
'* believe; and always fpoke of religion with 
*' an earneflnefs, and ferioufnefs, and know- 
** ledge, which I wifh vv^ere more general than 
" 1 have found it among thofe who efceem 
*' themfelvcs her betters. Here then is a 
*' fhining example of goodnefs, on your own 
*' level, for your imitation."* 

* The following thoughts have been communicated lately to 
the author by a humane intelligent lea officer, who, in his 
command on foreign ftations, did not think he went out of 
his line by pleading and promoting the caufe of humanity. 
They are particularly pertinent in this place to prove Africans 
proper objefts of improvement and police. 

" I have talked, I have written ; I have often bluihed for the 
*' unnatural tyranny exercifed in our Weft Indian ifles; where 
" Proteftants even exceed Papifts in barbarity to the unfortunate 
" flaves that have become their purchafed property. Particu- 
" larly, I have, in the warmeft manner, recommended their 
•* imitation of the Roman Catholics in beftowing baptifm on 
*' their flaves, inforcingmy argument from this confideration:" 
" You acknowledge the Chrillian path, in which you walk, 
** to lead to a happy future ftate; how can you then, as men or 
" Chriftians, refufe that to your flaves, which you believe will 
** intitle them to falvation?" " I cannot boaft of the impref- 
*' fions that thefe arguments made in our Weftern Archipelago. 
** But, finding the planters in the colonies adjoining to Spanilh 

R 3 *' fettle- 

262 On the Treatment and 

** fettlements, complaining that their flaves were daily defert- 
" ing from them, I thought I had found an argument to urge 
*' intirely in their own way." " Your flaves defert to the 
** Spaniards, becaufe they grant them greater privileges than 
•' you do, and make Chriftians of them. Ufa you the fame 
** methods, and they will not think of leaving you." 

" The negroes along the fea-coaft of Africa (particularly 
*' among the French) are well-informed, eafy, kind, generous, 
** and have a better fenfe of right and wrong than any other peo- 
*' pie I have ever vifited. I was thrown among them in a ftate of 
*' wretchednefs and iicknefs, with feventy-feven dying men, be- 
" ing abandoned by our own people, who refufed rne affiftance 
" and medicines, I call: myfelf on the charity of favages, and 
** received more in fiances of compafTion and goodnefs from them 
*' than from all the Chriflians I have ever known. From this 
" exemplary benignity in this people, who are inhabitants 
*' about Cape Verd, may be collefted the probability of intro- 
*' ducing freedom and Chriftianity among them," 

** On the fouthern continent of Africa the natives are well 
"■' informed, well clad, dwell in fuperb houfes, abound in cattle 
** and other pofTefTions. Some Porteguefe are fettled among 
^* them, but, I believe, they drav/ their knowledge, mer- 
** chandize, and grandeur from their communication with 
I* Mozambique, Arabia, and Egypt. The places I chiefly 
'^' refer to, are Paulo Loando and St. Philip de Buengala." 


( 263 ) 


Plan for the Improvement and Converfion of 
African Slaves. 

HAVE nov^ gone through the feveral 
preliminary articles that refped; flaves 
in our fugar colonies. I have defcribed their 
condition at prefent. I have {hewn that 
there would be good policy and much profit, 
both to the ftate and the mafter, in advancing 
it ; that this advancement muft go hand in 
hand with their inftru(5tion in religion ; and, 
again, that inftru6tion is neceflary to make 
them good and ufeful fubje6ts. I have vin- 
dicated for them the natural equality and com- 
mon origin of mankind. I have claimed, as 
their due, the attention of government. I have 
endeavoured to in tereft humanity, policy, and 
religion in their favour. It only remains to 
pointout the method in which thefe ihould co- 

R ^ operate 

264 On the Treatment and 

operate for their advantage. That which I 
am now to offer, I propofe not as the beft 
poffible, but as the moil prafticable method, 
having refped: to the feifiihnefs and preju- 
dices of the age. Were government and peo- 
ple once well awakened to their own intereft, 
and heartily inclined, fomething much more 
promifing might be ilruck out. The chief 
advantages of the following plan is, that it 
may be fet on foot by government, without 
depending on the caprice of individuals, or 
affecting their intereft; that it will be gradual 
in its operation, and therefore more likely 
to accommodate itfelf to the ordinary courfe 
of human affairs. At the worft, it adds only 
one more to the many Utopian fchemes that 
volunteer reformers produce for the benefit 
of the heedlefs public. Should it ever be 
found as impracticable in itfelf, as it is in 
refped; of me, it may lead fome more happy 
man to a fcheme both pradicable and fuc- 
cefsful. In the mean time it may contribute 
to foften their prefent treatment; and it will 
be a teftimony of the author's affed:ion to 
the caufe of humanity, religion, and his 
country. The event muil be left to Pro- 
vidence. It will be adapted to the ffate of a 


Conversion of African Slaves. 265 

particular colony j but may eafily be accom- 
modated to others. I fliall only premife, that 
the feveral hints occafionally given in the 
courfe of the work, and what has been fug- 
gefted in the cafe of particular plantations, 
chap. III. fed:. V. is offered to every other 
owner of Haves, as far as circumflances will 

SECT. L . 

Eflabliihment of Clergy, and their Duty 
among Slaves. 

The illand of St. Chriftopher's, of which 
we particularly treat, is divided into nine 
pariflies, and is, at prefent, fupplied by five 
miniilers j the emoluments of two parities 
being barely fufficient for the decent fup- 
port of a family, without fuppofing any pro- 
viiion made for a widow and children. But, 
to carry on our plan of reformation among 
Jflaves ; nay, indeed for the due fupport of an 
eflabliflied religion among the white inha- 
bitants, it would be necelTary that each 
parifh fhould have its own incumbent. This * 
would give the proportion of one minifler to 


266 On the Treatment and 

about 3000 inhabitants; but it would re- 
quire the provifion allotted for their main- 
tenance to be increafed. Of this provifion 
I fliall not at prefent treat; though, when- 
ever it becomes an objed: of police, it will 
be eafy to propofe a fund for their decent 
maintenance without any feniible new ex- 
pence to government or people, and chiefly 
by changing the mode of certain prefent im- 
pofts. In the proportion here fuggefted, 
many parities, efpecially in Jamaica, would 
require to be divided; but the minifters 
could eafily and profitably for the colony be 
provided for there by allotments of unappro- 
priated funds.* 

I would propofe alfo a fchool to be 
eilablifhed in each parifli ; the fchool -mailer 

* Barbadoes contains eleven parilhes, each with its minilier ^ 
the town parifh has alfo a fixed curate. In Antigua there 
are fix parifhes, and fix minifters. In Montferrat there are fouf 
parifhes, and two minifters. In Nevis five parifhes, and three 
minifters. In Grenada there are ufually two minifters without 
appointments; it is the fame in Dominica. In St. Vincent's 
there are two minifters, and very fmall appointments. In 
Tortola there is no fixed minifter. In Anguilla the minifter has 
been long dumb for want of a maintenance. In Jamaica there 
are nineteen parifhes, fome of them as large as the whol? 
Leward Ifland government, and fome of them without church 
or minifter. 


Conversion of African Slaves. 267 

to be under the minifter's dire(5lion, and to 
affift in inilrufting ancj bringing forward the 
young children. A houfe, the place of 
parifh clerk, and fome other fmall appoint- 
ment, with the benefit of fcholars, would 
always procure decent men for the office.-}- 

Suppofe then a proper number of fober, 
pious minifters fettled in the colonies, each 
in his own cure, and employed in the duties 
of his function, fupported by government, 
and encouraged by good men. Let the 
minifter, every Sunday, perform the ufual 
morning fervice to his white pariihioners, 
and fuch fenfible negroes as can attend; in 

f Indeed a very fmall proportion of thofe immenfe fums that 
are thrown away under pretence of educating their children in 
England, would pfocure men properly qualified to fettle in thefc 
fchools in theiflands, which would not only fave to the parents 
much needlefs expence, but alfo prefervc the morals of the 
youth, and train them up to be ufeful to tliemfelves and 
families. A young Weft-Indian, conligned to a fugar-fa<ftor 
to be educated at a difrance from his father, foon begins to know 
no other relationfhip between him and his parent, than that of 
banker. He makes expenfive connexions, acquires habits of 
diflipation, is never made to feel his own weight, and feldom 
learns to turn out ufefully in life. Where parents have not the 
vanity or are not in circumftances to fend them to England, 
but content themfelves with giving them an ufeful education 
near them, Weft-Indian children ftiew that they want neither 
capacity nor application. 


268 On the Treatment a 


the afternoon let the fervice be adapted to 
the negroes. Injfliead of a common fermon^ 
let him explain to them, in courfe, a chapter 
of the New Teftament, making them inti- 
mately acquainted with the million and hif- 
tory of our Saviour, and our relation to him, 
as the immediate Creator, Head, and Re- 
deemer of the world. Let the clergyman 
frequently give a fhort expolition of the 
apoftle's creed, in eafy terms, and explain 
the ten commandments in words adapted 
to their capacity. 

Let the minifters jointly compofe forms of 
devotion, fome to be ufed in private by the 
negroes, others for their field morning and 
evening prayers, and others, more compre- 
henfive, to be ufed by the whole gang on 
Sundays, in the plantation. Let them be 
drawn up {liort, fimple, inflrudive, expref- 
live of their relation to God, to a Saviour, 
to fociety, and of the refpe6t that a candidate 
for heaven owes to himfelf. Indeed it would 
be found a great advantage in carrying on the 
work, if the forms were compofed to ferve in 
all the colonies generall}^ Mailers fhould be 
exhorted to fend, at convenient times, their 
moil fenfible flaves to the minifler, to be in- 


Conversion of African Slaves. 269 

flrudted in thefe forms, that they may teach 
the reft, and take the lead in the plantation 
evening and morning devotions. If the 
mafter, manager, or overfeer, v^ere conflantly 
to lead their Sunday plantation devotions, it 
would have an excellent effed:. Negroes, 
v^ho are w^ell treated and in fpirits, fing at 
work. A few eafy lingle ftanzas might be 
collected or compofed, to be ufed inftead of 
their common fongs. In every thing drawn 
up for them, the expreffion ihould be fimple, 
and the meaning obvious. 

Let the minifter vifit the plantations in 
rotation, at convenient times, to inquire 
into the behaviour and improvement of the 
flaves, to commend, reprove, admonifh, and 
pray with them. To give him refped; and 
influence, let all be obliged to appear befqre 
him decently clothed. 

Let him pay a particular attention to chil- 
dren ; that while their minds are tender, be- 
fore their difpofitions be foured by the im- 
pofitions of flavery, they may make fome 
progrefs in the knowledge of their duty. 
As they may be better fpared from plan- 
tation work than the reft, they may attend 
on the minifter on particular week days for 



2^6 On the Treatment ani> 

In common cafes, no culprit fhould be 
punifhed by the mafter, who can find a fen- 
lible fober negroe to be furety for his good 
behaviour: but both furety and culprit fhould 
be frequently admoniflied by the minifter of 
the nature of the engagement; and this prac- 
tice would give him many opportunities of 
hnprinting on their minds the obligations of 
virtue, the claims of fociety, the difference 
between right and wrong. In fhort, one 
circumftance that has happened among 
themfelves, properly difcuffed before them 
and imprinted on their minds, will have a 
better and more lafting effed: than a thoufand 
difcourfes on general good and evil. 

Wherever there is room for fhewing 
mercy, it Ihould be done at the minifler's 
interceffion, that he may be confidered as a 
mediator between the flave on one fide, and 
the mafler and the law on the other. He 
fliould never appear in any other light among 
them than that of their inftrudtor and be- 
nefactor, praying with them, interceding 
for them, or doing fome good office to them; 
that their efteem for his perfon, and grati- 
tude for his kindnefs, may fland to them in 
place of a law, may produce in them a love 


Conversion of African Slaves. 271 

for his dodlrine, and be a pledge of their 
good behaviour to the community. One 
caufe of the author's little fuccefs among 
his own Haves v^^as, doubtlefs, the necefhty of 
mixing the authority of the mailer in do- 
meftic matters, with the exhortations of the 
teacher; and the fuperior fuccefs of the 
Moravians may be accounted for, from their 
being fctn by their fcholars, only in the be- 
nevolent light of inflru6lors. 

The minifters fhould have monthly meet- 
ings at each other's houfes, to which well- 
difpofed gentlemen of the neighbourhood 
fhould be occafionally invited: at thefe they 
might talk over their difficulties, their fuc- 
celfes, their plans. Every meafure fliould be 
Carefully difculfed before carried into exe- 
cution; the plan of inftrudion fliould be 
uniform; the prayers, precepts, hymns, 
fhould all fpeak one language. And we might 
hope that the miniflers, relieved by a decent 
provifion from worldly care, countenanced 
by government, refpeded by good men, and 
encouraged by each other in this good work, 
would foon find pleafure in it, and fee it 
profper in their hands. 



On the Treatment and 

But fome greater care fhould be taken in 
the choice of perfons defigned for this labour, 
and of candidates fent over from the colo- 
nies for ordination, than has been hither- 
to ufuaL It is now growing into a 
cuftom, in the Weft-Indies, for men that 
have diffipated their patrimony, to flee 
to the church as their laft refuge from 
poverty,, often with very flender pretenfions 
refpeding education, and lefs refpedting de- 
cency of characfter. Yet, if any diftinition 
were proper, the colonifts, even fetting aiide 
this plan of the converlion of their flaves, 
by reafon of their ufual careleflnefs and dif- 
lipation, require a fuperior attention to the 
charad:er of their paftors. Perhaps the fitteft 
perfons that could be fent out would be dif- 
creet curates from England, accuftomed to 
teaching, whofe hopes of preferment are fmall, 
towhom thefe fettlements would beadelirable 
advancement. The Society for Propagating 
the Gofpel might have a committee to ex- 
amine, feledl, and recommend them to the 
feveral governors. 


Conversion of African Slaves. ^Ji 


General Improvement of Slaves. 

I have vindicated the natural capacity of 
African flaves, have laid before the reader 
their prefent condition, have proved that 
to advance them in religion and fecial life 
vi^ould profit both the public and their 
mafters, and have propofed a plan for their 
inftrudiion. We may now make this in- 
ference refpedling the original defign of this 
w^ork. Were the yoke of flavery made to fit 
more eafy on their necks; v^ere they taught 
to think more juftiy of themfelves, more 
moderately of their mailers; did their con- 
dition admit of the enjoyment of the com- 
mon conveniences of life; were thefe ex- 
tended and fecured to them; were their fa- 
milies and offspring to be confidered as their 
own, not wantonly to be torn from them at 
the caprice, or to pay for the extravagance, of 
their tyrant; then would they be found ca- 
pable of arts 'that are ufeful in fociety here, 
and of extending their own views to futurity. 
Then, when they had become fenfible of 

S their 

274 On the Treatment and 

their relation to God, would his religion, 
which we wifh to introduce, have a fair 
chance among them^ they would eileem 
themfelves more worthy of it, more nearly 
connected with it, more ftridly obliged to 
inquire into its dodrines, and conform their 
lives to its laws. Then, in refpect of in- 
telled:, would they be found equal to the 
people of any country. 

French flaves enjoy a great advantage for 
the admiffion of religion over Englifh flaves, 
in the familiarity that French manners per- 
mit them to live in with white people : 
an advantage that is increafed by the prefenc© 
of their owners, who generally live and con- 
verfe with them, fuperintend and partake 
with them in their labours, inftead of fub- 
mitting them to hirelings; many of whom, 
in fullen filence, think of nothing but of 
extorting labour out of them, at the expence 
of health, life, and every human feeling; 
and are, indeed, often obliged to do this to 
keep up the remittances, and preferve their 
places. The above-mentioned circumftances 
in the French iflands conceal the diftance be- 
tween mafter and flave, make the diftind:ion 
eafier to the latter, and, by exciting equally 
their afFedion and ambition, pave the way 


Conversion of African Slaves. 275 

for introducing among them the cufloms and 
religion of their mafters. 

The difficulties which the French had to 
conquer in their firft attempts to convert Haves 
cannot now be afcertained. But, long fince, 
cuftom and time have made the work eafy to 
them. Religion, as they teach it, places 
particular merit in the work of converfion, 
which is a fpur to their piety. The Creole 
flaves know no other religion than Chrifti- 
anity. The new African Haves are gradually 
abforbed into the mafs. With the firfi: rudi- 
ments of a new language, they draw in the 
precepts of a religion that mixes itfelf with 
every mode of common life; as foreigners 
are faid to learn Engliih, by the oaths and 
imprecations with which our tongue abounds. 
Thus they acquire the religion gradually, 
with the cuftoms of their new countrv, 
while attention and curiofity are Urong on 
them, before they have been put to hard or 
difagreeable labour, to difgufi: them with the 
manners and worfhip of their mafters. 
It muft be owned, indeed, that the Romifh 
mode of worfliip, confifting of pomp and 
ceremony, is better calculated to flrike, at 
Jirji fight y the imagination of ignorant peo- 
ple, than our fimple ritual, A remark, 

S 2 that 

276 On the Treatment and 

that may explain the attention which a very 
oppolite fed:, the Moravians, pay to forms 
in managing favages, and the flrefs that they 
lay on the defcription of our Saviour's fuf- 
ferings and crucifixion > as if it was necelTary 
for improving the mind, to make religion a 
mechanic exercife, and draw piety as an ob- 
ject of fenfe. 

On the other hand, till the minds of our 
flaves be more enlightened, till their iituation 
be made more eafy, till they have a refuge 
againfl the efFed:s of the caprice, ignorance, 
cruelty, poverty of their mailers, till they 
think themfelves intitled to the protection 
of fociety, we cannot expect them to take 
their proper rank in the fcate, nor to 
make any coniiderable progrefs in religious 
knowledge. At prefent they know and feel 
nothing of fociety, but the hardships and 
punifliments that it cruelly and capriciouily 
infiidts j they lie far beyond its care, and out 
of the circle of its comforts. And I be- 
lieve it Vv'ill be found, that Chriftianity has 
feldom made any great progrefs, except 
vv^here fociety was in an advanced ftate. 
!Nor has it fupported itfelf, but in the 
polifhed parts of Europe and America. And 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 277 

how, rationally fpeaking, can it happen 
otherwife? A conformity with revealed re- 
ligion fuppofeth a conqueil over the feliifh 
paffions; and unlefs we be iirfl accuflomed 
to facrifice, in a certain degree, thefe paffions 
for the advantages of fociety, which come 
home to our immediate feelings, we fhall 
hardly be willing to facrifice them for the 
hopes of religion. Indeed the benevolence 
or charity, which is the corner-ftone of Chrif- 
tianity, is evidently a refinement on juilice, 
which is the bond of fociety. But, can v/e 
refine on a law that doth notexift? As reli- 
gion muft be built on a foundation of law; 
fo, in refpe^l of prad:ice, it may be called 
the perfedion of fociety: it brings futurity 
into the aid of law, and gives a moral fan(flion 
to the edids of authority. Could it find ad- 
mittance among favages, it would of necef- 
fity polifh them, and introduce fociety among 
them. Modern philofophers and politicians, 
even while exerting their influence to under- 
mine its foundations, give religion this tef- 
timony: " Though too vulgar a ftudy for a 
** fine fpirit, and its precepts too mean for 
** his free fentiments, yet religion is an 
<* excellent inftrument in the magiflrates 

Si ** hands 

278 On the Treatment and 

** hands to make the mob harmlefs, fobefj, 
*' induftrious, honefl, and obedient-f*." 

And conformably to this reafoning we 
find, it was in the cities, where fociety had, 
improved the underllanding, that the apoflles. 
and their fellow-labourers chiefly made con- 
verts to Chriftianity. A Pagan or country- 
clown, and an heathen or infidel, foon became 
equivalent terms. Different, indeed, is the 
cafe now, when our fine wits, (who, had they 
lived in the early ages of Chriftianity, merely 
for the credit of their parts, would have 
been moft orthodox) are afhamed of the re^ 
ligion of their fathers 5 and, rather than pro- 
fefs any religion in common with mankind, 
will maintain the lilliell: paradox, the moil: 

•f There is at laft, indeed, one exception in the newly 
erefled ftates of America : they have almoft generally declared 
againfl an eftablilbed religion as a neceflary part of their 
conftitutions ; the fuccefs cannot for fome time be known. 

The good effects of religion in improving fociety, is nobly 
teftified in the fuccefs of the Moravians among the favages of 
Greenland : by gradually introducing Chriftianity and in- 
duftry together, of felfifh precipitate favages, they have made 
a band of provident, fober, ufeful, fympathizing brethren. 
Their progrefs there is the triumph of religion over ignorant 
unaffifted reafon. Yet our Haves are much more civilized than. 
thefe originally were ; but liberty, nature's inheritance to man^ 
more than compenfated to them the diflerencet 


Conversion of African Slaves. 279 

degrading dogma.- I wifh, indeed, we could 
fay, that good manners, and obedience to the 
laws, were not generally fent away with 
what they affed: to call bigotry : fo indiflb- 
lubly bound together are the charaders of a 
good citizen and pious man. 

In general the faculties of the mind mufl: 
be expanded to a certain degree, before reli- 
gion will take root, or flourifli among a peo- 
ple; and a certain proportion of civil liberty 
is necelTary, on which to found that ex- 
panfion of the mind, which moral or religi- 
ous liberty requires.* By this aflertion I 
exclude not particular inftances j but fuch 
neither form nor confute general rules. To 
bring this home to the cafe of our flaves : 
the great obftacle to government in bring- 
ing about this point, fetting afide its own 

• When Mofes led the children of Ifrael out of Egypt, he 
was under the neceffity of training them up to be an independ- 
ent people, by multiplied forms and ftri£l difcipline, for the 
fpace of forty years. And it is apparent, from their behavi- 
our during this long period, that flavery had fo thoroughly 
debafed their minds, as to have rendered them incapable of 
the exertions necertary for their fettlement in the promifed 
land, till all thofe who had grown up as flaves in Egypt, had 
fallen in the wildernefs, and laws and regulations worthy of a 
free people had taken place among them. This is a cafe full 
in point, and may fuggeft hints worthy of the legiflature. 

S 4 carelelfnefs 

28o On the Treatment and 

carelefTnefs in fuch things, is the alteration 
that it would at firJl; make in private pro- 
perty. This it is true we have in chap. 2, 
fe6t, '^. fhewn to be more in appearance 
than in fad:. But fuch are our prejudices, 
that any law to improve the condition of 
our flaves, or to inftrud them in the prin- 
ciples of religion, would be too apt to be 
confidered as an incroachment on their maf- 
ters property, and an hinderance of their 

Still allowing this prejudice its full ope- 
ration, fomething conliderable might be 
done by parliament, by colony legiflatures, 
by willing confcientious mafters. Expe- 
dients would offer themfelves, methods might 
be difcovered, to advance the condition, and 
promote the religious interefts of flaves, and 
fave alfo, or even improve, their labour to 
their mafters, and the ftate. Nay, the in- 
tereft of the ftate would ultimately be ad- 
vanced by every indulgence extended to 
them. On the other hand, little can any 
other individuals attempt, and lefs can they 
effect, except to pray that the minds of our 
governors may be enlightened to fee the 
honour and advantage of this undertaking. 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 281 

We come now to fiiggeft fuch an advance- 
ment of their condition, as may lay the 
foundation of that improvement, in morality 
and religion, v\^hich is the objed; of this 


Privileges granted, and Police extended to 

We have obferved, that Haves are hardly 
in any inflance confidered as objects of 
police, being abandoned to the manage- 
ment, or rather caprice, of their feveral maf- 
ters. Nor doth law take notice of them, 
but to enforce power, which, without fuch 
afliflance, too frequently lays reafon and hu- 
manity bleeding at its feet. Our laws, in- 
deed, as far as they refpecft flaves, are only 
licenced modes of exerciling tyranny on 
them ', for they are not made parties to 
them, though their lives and feelings be 
concluded by them. As well may dirediions 
for angling be faid to be laws made for 
dumb iifh, as our colony regulations for 
whipping, hanging, crucifying, burning 


282 On the Treatment and 

negroes, be called laws made for Haves. 
To make them objects of civil government 
mull therefore be an efTential part of every 
plan of improvement that refped:s Haves ; 
fo that while obnoxious to the penalties 
of the law, they may be intitled to its 
feciirity ; and while law leaves them under 
the management of a mafler, it may proted; 
them from his barbarity. 

A judge Ihould therefore be appointed to 
determine difputes of confequence between 
mafter and Have, as in the French colonies.* 
The power of the mafter fiiould be reftrain- 
ed within certain limits. He fhould not 
be fuffered to maim, beat, or bruife wret- 
ches with a flick. To flit ears and nofes, to 
break legs, or caflrate,'^- fliould make a man 
infamous for ever, and, equally with the 
greater excommunication, incapacitate him 
from being evidence, or taking inheritan^ 

* If it be objei^ed that the appoliitment of a judge would 
encourage flaves to be running conftantly to him with com- 
plaints, and annihilate the mailer's juft authority; the exam- 
ple of Athens formerly, and France now, may be adduced in, 
proof, that no fuch efFefts neceffarily follow, 

f The lafl inftance of this enormity was, I believe, per- 
petrated by an Englilh furgeon in Granada, 

Conversion OF African Slaves. 283 

ces ; and much more fhould fuch cruelties 
{hut the door againfl him from fitting in 
an aflembly, or council, as a legiflator. The 
fentiment of a gentleman, a native of St. 
Chriftopher's, pleafed me on this fubjedt, 
** Were a white fervant to behave to me as 
** my Haves often do, I fhould be provoked 
*' to beat him moft unmercifully. But how 
*' can I ftrike a wretch, who dare not ftrike 
** again, who has no law to which he may 
** apply for fatisfadlion for my excefs, who 
** has none but myfelf to look up to for 
** protecflion againfl my violence ?" What 
pity is it, fince fociety interpofes not, that 
fuch fentiments Ihould be uncommon ? 

If any Have has been flagrantly ill treated 
by a mafter, the mailer fhould have a mark 
of infamy, as above, fixed on him, and the 
Have fhould be made free without price : or, 
if he be unacquainted with any trade by 
which he can earn his bread, he fhould be 
fold for the benefit of the public, at an eafy 
rate, to fome coniiderate man. To make a 
flave free, who cannot earn an honeft living, 
would be inhuman and impolitic. It is 
letting loofe on fociety a thief in defpair. 


284 On the Treatment and 

The marriages of Haves fhould be put un- 
der fome better regulation than at prefent ^ 
when a man may have what wives he plea- 
feth, and either of them may break the yoke 
at their caprice. Nothing would more hu- 
manize flaves, and improve their condition, 
than their acquiring a property in their 
wives and families, and having a reilraint 
laid on the promifcuous intercourfe of the 
fexes. Marriage, or a family, is the em- 
bryo of fociety ; it contains the principles, 
and feeds of every focial virtue. The care 
of a family would make them coniidcrate, 
fober, frugal, induftrious. An ambition to 
promote the condition of their children, 
would fharpen and improve their talents. 
They would avoid every fault, or meannefs, 
that might hurt the intereft or credit of 
fuch dear relatives; even as in poliihed fo- 
ciety, a man who is married, is generally 
found a more ufeful and truft worthy citi- 
zen, than he who continues fmgle,* 


* I admire that policy of the Athenians, which allowed no 
unmarried man to hold any place in the magiftracy, army, or 
navy. They did not depend on ;^/j fidelity to diftribute juf- 
tice, or defend the ftate, who had not given to the public a 

wife and children, as fureties of his good behaviour. 

I meaa 

Conversion of African Slaves. 285 

The minimum of a negroe's allowance for 
clothes and proviiions iliould be fettled by 
law. Slaves iliould be allowed at leafl: Sa- 
turday afternoon, as in Jamaica, for their 
own work, and to wafh their clothes. Sun- 
day fliould be wholly their own, for the 
purpofes of inflrucftion, and reft from la- 
bour. Their little properties fhould be fe- 
cured to them ; their families fhould not 
be torn from them. All plantation flaves, 
as at prefent is the cuftom in Antigua, 
lliould be conlidered as fixed to the free- 

I mean not here to cenfure men, who, like Newton, pre- 
lerve themfelves chafte and fingle, the more clofely to apply- 
to the ftudy of nature, or the intricacies of fcience. Neither 
the common good, nor moral reftitude, require the matter to 
be fo ftridly urged. Let the poet court his mufe, or the phi- 
lofopher hold dalliance with nature, or fport in the fields of li- 
terature ; we will not permit the cares of a family to interrupt 
his refearches, or difturb his amufement. Matrimony claims 
only thofe in each fex, who find themfelves drawn irrefiftibly 
to the other, and wilhes only to fanftify their commerce. No 
plea can be ufed for the celibacy of thofe who keep not them- 
felves chalte. There is a forry felfiflinefs in their ftealin? all 
that they value in the ftate, and leaving the cares to others. 
For they muft acknowledge, that in every community a cer- 
tain proportion mull marry ; and if it be a burden, why are 
they exempt? Not but if this were the place to prove it, 
marriage might be fhcwn to be, generally fpeaking, the only 
rational foundation for focial happinefs, and the Itate the God 
of nature appointed for man. 


286 On the Treatment and 

hold, that they may not be fold, or car- 
ried away wantonly at pleafure. It would 
then be the next natural flep, to talk them as 
propofed in note, page 129, and fuffer them, 
by their extra labour, to work out their 
freedom ; ftill taking care to keep as many 
of them attached to the foil, as might be 
wanted to carry on the ftaple manufactures 
of the colonies as day labourers. 

Thefe regulations would lay a foundation 
for that far diftant view which we take of 
this fubjedj the time when liberty fhall 
claim every exiled African for her own 
child. Their being connedled with the 
foil, will draw after it certain perfonal 
rights, and all the claims of a family. Having 
once taiks affigned them, wages will follow, 
and the bargain become mutual and equal 
between the employer and employed.* If, 
on account of ill behaviour, or any particu- 
lar caufe, a mafler be under the necellity of 
parting with a plantation ilave, or banilhing 

* One infeparable confequence of the communication of the 
hajf degree of liberty or privilege to flaves, would be a defire 
to be baptized, and to be confidered as Chriftians ; for this 
they think fecures the poffeflion of it to them. And much 
good might be done towards their inftruftion, by making a 
proper advantage of this bias to the religion of their mafters. 


Conversion of African Slaves. 287 

him, let it be done v^^ith the approbation of 
the judge; and let the tranfa(5tion, with the 
reafon affigned, be regiftered. In like man- 
ner iliould every decree given by the judge 
be regifcered. 

To improve their minds, the flaves fhould 
be accuftomed to determine, as jurors, oa 
the behaviour of each other. This would 
infenlibly lead them to diilinguilh between 
vice and virtue. What rendered the Gre- 
cian and Roman mobs (for their aflemblies 
were no better) fo fuperior to the nations 
around them, but the privilege of being con- 
ftituted judges both of public meafures and 
private caufes, and, as fuch, of being daily 
improved by the public orations of their 
lawyers and ftatefmen ? The frequent at- 
tendance on our courts of law, and as jury- 
men in the trial of caufes, which moft peo- 
ple in our little colonies are obliged to give, 
except they bribe off their appearance, im- 
parts a precifion and readinefs in thinking to 
the colonifts, that one fhall in vain look for 
in the mother country in the fame rank, on 
the fame fubjed:s. Yet they are often very 
unpolifhed beings, when Europe firft fends 
them out among us. 


288 On the Treatment and 

Mafters (hould be encouraged to grant 
freedom to fuch ilaves as fhewed merit, and 
promifed to make good ufe of it ; but they 
fhould be retrained from turning off flaves 
when become incapable of labour, as is of- 
ten done, under pretence of giving them 
freedom. AH colony laws, ena(fted on the 
narrow principle of perfonal diftindion, to 
prevent or fetter manumiffion, iliould be 
annulled; fuch as thofe of Barbadoes and 
Granada, that fix a heavy fine to the public 
on the mailer who frees a Have. All mu- 
lattoes fhould be fent out free, trained to 
fome trade or bufinefs at the age of thirty 
years. Children of mulattoe girls Ihould be 
free from their birth, or from the com- 
mencement of their mother's freedom. In- 
tendants fhould be appointed to fee them 
put in time to fuch trade or bufinefs, as 
may befi: agree with their inclination, and 
the demands of the colony. This fhould 
be done at the expence of their fathers, and 
a fufficient fum might be depofited in the 
hands of the church-wardens, foon after 
their birth, to anfwer the purpofe ; the in- 
tendant keeping the church- wardens to their 
duty. This cafe fuppofes the mother to be 


Conversion OF African Slaves. 289 

free. If a man has a mulattoe born to him 
by another man's negrefs, he ihould pay to 
her owner eight pounds flerhng, as foon as 
the child is weaned. It ihould then be 
confidered as the mailer's child, to be fent 
out free as above. If the parent or mailer 
has negled:ed to inilruc5l them in fome ufe- 
ful calling, he ihould be fined in an annuity 
equal to their maintenance. 

By thefe means, the number of free citi- 
zens would infenfibly increafe in the colo- 
nies, and add to their fecurity and ilrength. 
A new rank of citizens, placed between the 
black and white races, would be eilabliila- 
ed. They would naturally attach them- 
felves to the white race, as the more ho- 
nourable relation, and fo become a barrier 
againil the defigns of the black. Nay, 
were the law extended to free every fenfible 
negrefs (and they are generally domeilics, 
and fempilrelTes) who ihould bring a mu- 
lattoe child by her mailer, or any man 
worth as much as would repay her value to 
her maiter, I fee no ill confeque«ces that 
could follow from the regulation. At leail, 
if it checked this improper commerce be- 
tween mailer and flave, it would promote 

T legal. 

290 On the Treatment and 

legal, and more honourable connedtions with 
their own equals. Still thieves, and va- 
gabond beggars, fliould be excepted from 
every privilege, and be kept, or reduced to 
llavery, whenever difcovered i and if this 
were the law, under certain refl:rid:ions, even 
in Britain, much wealth and happinefs 
would redound from it. 

On thefe outlines of fociety, viz. the indif- 
foluble tie of marriage, the claims of a fami- 
ly, the allowance of property, the afcertain- 
ing the hours and time of labour, or al- 
lotting it by tafk; the fixing the mini- 
mum of maintenance and clothing ; the 
adjudging them to the foil; the making 
them arbiters of each other's condud: ; the 
affigning them a proted;or or judge, to pre- 
ferve their little privileges, and fecure them 
againil cruelty ^ in iliort, on the vindicat- 
ing for them the common rights of hu- 
manity, would we ered: a plan, that fhould 
look forward to their gradual improve- 
ment, and extend, by flow but fure ileps, 
to the full participation of every focial pri- 
vilege. Thus fecured from injury, thus 
partaking in the fruits of their own labour, 
they might be refigned to the care of the 
, paflors 

Conversion of African Slaves. 291 

paftors that we have propofed for them, to 
be built up in holinefs, and the fear of God, 
and taught to look forward with refigna- 
tion and hope, to a ftate where every hard- 
ship, every inequality, infeparable from the 
lot of humanity, fhall be intirely removed, 
and fully compenfated. 


I have now laid before the public what 
I fuppofed might bear the light; not all 
I have thought, not all I have written on 
the fubjed:. In many points fentiment has 
ftruggled with the feliiihnefs of the age, and 
been obliged to fupprefs many a generous 
wifl:! : the feelings of benevolence have been 
forced to give way to the fuggeftions of 
narrow policy; and even a fenfe of the pub- 
lic intereft has been made to yield to private 
prejudice. Yet, if our flaves were once 
accuftomed to tafle only a few of the fweets 
of fociety, a little of the fecurity of being 
judged by known laws, they would double 
their application to procure the comforts 
and conveniencies of life; and, with their 

T 2 additional 


>N THE Treatment and 

additional property, would naturally rife in 
their rank in fociety. Many, efpecially if 
our plan of working them by talk were to 
take place, would, in time, be able to pur- 
chafe their own freedom. Their demands 
for manufad:ures would increafe, and extend 
our trade; they would acquire a love for 
the country and government that fhewed this 
attention to them. The labour of fuch as 
became free might, for fome time, be re- 
gulated on the fame plan as that of labourers 
in England. Under the awe of, or rather 
affifled by, a few regular troops, they might 
fafely be trufled with arms for the defence of 
thcmfelves, their families, their own, and 
patron's property. Then would the colonies 
enjoy a fecurity from foreign attacks that no 
protection from Europe can afford them. 

The minds of thefe, our fellow-creatures, 
that are now drowned in ignorance, being 
thus opened and improved, the pale of rea- 
fon would be enlarged j Chriftianity would 
receive new ftrength; liberty new fubjed:s. 
The Have trade, in its prefent form the re- 
proach of Britain, and threatening to hallen 
its downfal, might be made to take a new 
ihape, and become ultimately a bleffing to 


Conversion of African Slaves. 293 

thoufands of wretches, who, left in their na- 
tive country, would have dragged out a life 
of miferable ignorance; unknowing of the 
hand that framed them; unconfcious of the 
reafon of which they were made capable; 
and heedlefs of the happinefs laid up in ftore 
for them.* 

Thus, by a timely interpoiition of the 
legillature, and a judicious attention to cir- 
cumflances, might Britain acquire a con- 
iiderable acceffion of ilrength, have its trade 
and taxes improved, and a large number of 
ufeful fellow-fubjed:s, that are now funk in 
mifery and bondage, made happy here, and 
capable of happinefs hereafter. And thefe 
are confiderations that, furely, are fuffici- 
ently powerful to unite the worldling and 
politician, with the pious faint and iincere 
Chriftian, to carry on the fcheme as one 

* This is on the fuppofition that the Have trade could be 
ccndufled without that violence and injuftice to individuals, 
and enormous lofs of lives in the paffage from Africa, and, 
during the feafoning in the colonies, that now accompanies it. 
For the greateft benefit that can poffibly happen to a few 
cannot juftify us for endeavouring it by murder, by vio- 
lence, bad air, and famine, in making the experiment. 
They mult offer themfelves willingly for the voyage, and be 
tetter accomjncdatcd and trc;.ted during the courfe of it. 


294 ^N T^-^ Treatment and 

man, iince each would find his feparate ac- 
count in it. Honour, profit, piety, all join 
in the important requefl:; all folicit to have 
their claims to this benefit confidered. 

And what glory would it be to Britain, 
what an obje<ft of emulation, to enlarge the 
benevolent plan of France and Spain, for 
improving the condition of their flaves ; 
and to open a way for the admiilion of 
reafon, religion, liberty, and law among 
creatures of our kind, at prefent deprived of 
every advantage, of every privilege, which, 
as partakers of our common nature, they are 
capable of and entitled to ! 

We have notorioufly and continually thrufl 
ourfelves into the quarrels of others, and 
been lavifh of our blood and treafure for the 
protection of ftrangers and the advancement 
of ungrateful rivals, whofe good- will, even in 
appearance, we could retain no longer than 
while our afTiflance was ufeful to them. But 
thefe miferable wretches live only, can live 
only, for our profit, for our luxury. They 
have no protedlor, no refuge to flee to ; and 
every penny laid out for their advantage 
would return with tenfold ufury to us. And 


Conversion of x^frican Slaves. 295 

fhall Vv^e, from year to year, continue to 
fpend our riches and ftrength, in railing up 
thanklefs rival ftates, and deny thefe unhappy 
beings a poor pittance of their own labour to 
make them a farther advantage and glory to 
us? Forbid it, honour; forbid it, juftice; 
forbid it, prudence 5 forbid it, humanity. 
What is here propofed may, poffibly, on trial, 
be found ineitedlual, though I have good 
ground to think it would not. But, furely, 
were the feelings of humanity, the refearches 
of knowledge, and the obfervations of ex- 
perience, colledled in the confultation, they 
could not fail in producing fome plan capable 
of anfwering the willi of reafon, religion, 
liberty ;• capable of fecuring thefe bleffings 
to Britain and her children. Reafon will 
not be backward in a work that is to produce 
her advancement; Liberty will think no con- 
ceflion great that is to extend her empire; 
Piety will not reckon that expence exceffive 
that has the purchafe of fouls in view. 
Even felfilli Intereft will open her ears to 
the fuggeilions of accumulation. Slow me- 
thodical difcretion mufl prefide over, and 
^uide the gradually opening fcene. What un- 
wearied application have the premiums offered 


^ ig6 On the Treatment and 

for the difcovery of the longitude given rife 
to ? And what object more worthy of pub- 
lic encouragement than this, which propofes 
to recover to reafon, to utility, and happi- 
nefs, a multitude of human creatures drown- 
ed in ignorance and wretchednefs ? 

Though what is here written, if deemed 
worthy of notice, will certainly expofe 
the author to much abufe from men, whofe 
wiihes and intereft, as they imagine them to 
tend, are oppofed to all reformation; yet, is 
he not fenfible of having had any thing 
finifter, felfifh, or cenforious in view; nor 
can he, in any refped, be particularly bene- 
fited if the improvement were to take effed: I 
He has intended no flight or injury to in- 
dividuals, or to any condition or community 
of men, feparated from their oppofition to 
the unalienable rights of human nature 
and the dictates of benevolence and religion. 
His confolation is, that a fimple love of 
truth, and a fincere defire to do good, alone 
excited him to the attempt, and that many 
pious and learned perfons thought it worthy 
the attention of the public. And, after feri- 
oufly reviewing the whole, he fees no objec- 
tion to be offered before hand, either againil 


Conversion of African Slaves. 297 

the pra(5licability, or expence of the plan, 
except the manners and prejudices of the 
age. On the contrary, there are conlide- 
rations to encourage both individuals and 
government to make the attempt -, argu- 
ments of ftrength, not only to be drawn 
from topics of humanity, liberty, religion, 
but alfo of fafety, conveniency, politive 
intereft, and profit, both public and private* 
Doubtlefs, in a fubje6t like this, v^^here 
we muil be fatisfied with general accounts, 
probable conjectures, and analogical reafon- 
ing, a perfon inclined to take the other fide 
may fele(fl many things to be objefted to, 
many to be contradifted. But, till fuch a 
man can, fimply and generally fpeaking, 
vindicate on the fcore of religion, mo- 
rality, or even policy, the condud:, or rather 
negligence of government, v/ith refped: to 
the fugar colonies; till he can prove that the 
diet, the clothing, the labour, the punifh- 
ments of 4000,000 negroes, ought to be left 
entirely to the difcretion of their mafters; till 
he can affirm, that Haves have an adequate re- 
medy, either in law, opinion, or interefl, as 
prad:ifed or undcrfiood among us, -againft 
the parfimony, infenfibility, prejudices, 

U mean- 

298 On the Treatment and 

meannefs, ignorance, fpite, arid cruelty of 
their owners and overfeers ; till he can ftiew, 
that the prefent Hate of our flaves is the bell 
poffible flate, both for them and their maf- 
ters, into which they can be put; and that 
we had a right to ravifh them from their 
country, to tranfport, and place them in our 
own; till he can fhew it to be impojjible to 
make them real Chriftians, or to render them 
more ufeful members of the ftate than 
they are at prefent; till he can ihew that 
reafon is convinced, humanity pleafed, that 
liberty has no claim, and religion no wifh; 
the juftice of our remarks muft remain 
eflabliflied, and the neceffity of that attention 
to the improvement of flaves, both as men 
and Chriftians, which is here inforced, 
muft remain unconfuted. 

May God, in his providence, in his good- 
nefs, efteem us a people worthy of a bleiling, 
fo valuable and extenfive as the focial im- 
provement and converlion to Chriftianity of 
our ilaves would indifputably be. In this 
prayer, every pious, humane, and confider- 
ate reader will join with 

The Author, 


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