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VOL. I. 








Estimate of the evil of the Slave-trade — and of the blessing 
of the Abolition of it. — Usefulness of the contemplation 
of this subject. 9 


Those who favored the cause of the Africans previously to 
1787, were so many necessary forerunners in it — Cardinal 
Ximenes — and others 30 


Forerunners continued to 1787 — divided now into four classes 
— First consists of persons in England of various descrip- 
tions, Godwyn, Baxter, and others. .... 40 

Second, of the Quakers in England, George Fox, and his 
religious descendants 89 

Third, of the Quakers in America — Union of these with 
individuals of other religious denominations in the same 
cause 104 

Facility of junction between the members of these three dif- 
ferent classes. 149 


Fourth consists of Dr. Peckard — Then of the Author — Author 
wishes to embark in the cause — Falls in with several of the 
members of these classes. , . . . . .156 




Fourth class continued — Langton — Baker — and others — Au- 
tlior now embarks in the cause as a business of his life. . 16? 


Fourth class continued — Sheldon — Mackworth — and others 
— Author seeks for further information on the subject — 
and visits members of Parliament .... 177 


Fourth class continued — Author enlarges his knowledge — 
Meeting at Mr. Wilberforce's — Remarkable junction of all 
the four classes, and a Committee formed out of them, in 
May, 1787, for the Abolition of the Slave-trade. . . 186 


History of the preceding classes, and of their junction, shown 
by means of a map. ....... 197 


Author endeavors to do away the charge of ostentation in 
consequence of becoming so conspicuous in this work. . 203 

Proceedings of the committee — Emancipation declared to be 
no part of its object — Wrongs of Africa by Mr. Roscoe. . 209 


Author visits Bristol to collect information — 111 usage of sea- 
men in the Slave-trade — Articles of African produce — 
Massacre at Calebar 220 


Mode of procuring and paying seamen in that trade — Their 
mortality in it — Construction and admeasurement of Slave- 
ships — Difficulty of procuring evidence — Cases of Gardi- 
ner and Arnold 241 

Author meets with Alexander Falconbridge — Visits ill-treated 
and disabled seamen — takes a mate out of one of the Slave- 
vessels — and puts another in prison for murder. . . 259 




To all who note the signs of the times, it must be ob- 
vious that the character and consequences of American 
slavery, the plans proposed for its removal, and the in- 
fluence of those plans on the union and prosperity of the 
nation, are to become topics of general and absorbing 
interest. It is natural and proper that the citizens of a 
free country should carefully investigate the nature of an 
institution necessarily affecting the moral and political 
welfare of themselves and their posterity, and should 
anxiously inquire what conduct respecting it is required 
by duty and prudence. Discussion has been excited 
and will not and cannot be suppressed. In the social 
circle, and in the crowded assembly, in the pulpit, and in 
the legislative hall, slavery is the theme of frequent and 
earnest inquiry ; and the press is pouring forth its mul- 
titudinous publications on the same momentous topic. 

The subscriber flatters himself that by collecting in a 
cheap but neat form, the most valuable and instructive 
works relating to the great subject that is now agitating 
the whole country, he will not only gratify the prevailing 
thirst for information, but also promote the cause of 
truth and justice. 

The Cabinet will comprise both original and select- 
ed articles, embracing, among other topics, the history 


of the legal abolition of the African Slave-trade — the 
history and consequences of emancipation in the British 
West India Islands — the past and present state of St. 
Domingo — discussions on the lawfulness of slavery — 
the actual condition of the slaves in the United States, 
and an examination of the various modes of emancipating 
them which have been recommended. 

The selections will from time to time be made by 
gentlemen whose names will be given to the public, and 
who will be responsible for the general character of the 
articles, but not for all the opinions and assertions they 
may contain. 

As the Cabinet of Freedom will be devoted to 
subjects connected with slavery, its name may be thought 
singularly inappropriate to its contents. The incon- 
gruity, however, is only apparent, since the subscriber 
trusts that the Cabinet will exert an influence favorable 
to the cause of immediate and universal emancipation. 

The Cabinet will appear regularly every two weeks, 
commencing in March, 1836. Each number will con- 
tain 48 pages duodecimo, and will be sold in numbers, 
if required, at 6~ cents, except when illustrated with en- 
gravings, the price of such numbers will be increased 
according to the expense of the engraving. 

Terms two dollars per annum, payable in advance. 
The Hon. Wm. Jay,. Rev. Prof. Bush, of the New- 
York University, and Gerrit Smith, Esq., have consented 
to select the articles for the Cabinet until further notice. 
All communications for the Cabinet of Freedom, to be 
addressed to 


Bookseller, New York. 


It has been thought that no work could be selected 
more appropriate for the commencement of the Cabinet, 
than Clarkson's celebrated History of the Abolition of 
the Slave-Trade. Its accuracy has never been question- 
ed, and the importance of the subject to the cause of 
humanity is almost unparalleled. The examples af- 
forded by this history, of the combined strength of self- 
ishness and prejudice, and of the still greater strength of 
Christian truth, zeal, and perseverance, are not only in- 
structive in themselves, but are peculiarly interesting and 
useful at the present moment, when the same great 
principles and motives of action which distinguished the 
struggle for the Abolition of the African Slave-trade, are 
employed in assailing and defending American slavery. 

It will be seen from the subjoined extract from the 
journals of Congress, how respectfully the donation of 
this work to the National Library was received ; and it 
affords matter for serious and humiliating reflection, that 
the same legislature which has pronounced the African 
trade to be piracy, should pertinaciously sanction an 


American traffic, in many respects, scarcely less atro- 
cious than the other. 

House of Representatives, 18th Feb., 1809. 
" Resolved, That the Speaker be requested to ac- 
knowledge the receipt and acceptance of Clarkson's 
History of Slavery presented by the American Conven- 
tion for promoting the abolition of slavery, and improving 
the condition of the Africans, and that the said work be 
deposited in the library." 






no subject more pleasing than that of the removal of evils. — 
Evils have existed almost from the beginning of the world-*- 
but there is a power, in. our nature to counteract them. — this 
power increased by christianity. — of the evils removed by 
Christianity one of the greatest is the Slave-trade. — The joy 
WE OUGHT to feel ON ITS abolition from a contemplation of the 
nature of it— and of the extent of IT — AND of the difficulty 


I scarcely know of any subject, the contem- 
plation of which is more pleasing than that of 
the correction or of the removal of any of the 
acknowledged evils of life ; for while we rejoice 
to think that the sufferings of our fellow-creatures 
have been thus, in any instance, relieved, we must 
rejoice equally to think that our own moral con- 
dition must have been necessarily improved by 
the change. 

That evils, both physical and moral, have ex- 
isted long upon earth there can be no doubt. One 
of the sacred writers, to whcm we more imme- 
diately appeal for the early history of mankind, 


informs us that the state of our first parents was 
a state of innocence and happiness, but that, soon 
after their creation, sin and misery entered into 
the world. The poets in their fables, most of 
which, however extravagant they may seem, had 
their origin in truth, speak the same language. 
Some of these represent the first condition of man 
by the figure of the golden, and his subsequent de- 
generacy and subjection to suffering by that of the 
silver, and afterwards of the iron, age. Others 
tell us that the first female was made of clay ; 
that she was called Pandora, because every ne- 
cessary gift, qualification, or endowment, was 
given to her by the gods, but that she received 
from Jupiter at the same time, a box, from which, 
when opened, a multitude of disorders sprung, 
and that these spread themselves immediately 
afterwards among all of the human race. Thus 
it appears, whatever authorities we consult, that 
those which may be termed the evils of life ex- 
isted in the earliest times. And what does sub- 
sequent history, combined with our own expe- 
rience, tell us, but that these have been continued, 
or that they have come down, in different degrees, 
through successive generations of men, in all the 
known countries of the universe, to the present 

But though the inequality visible in the dif 
ferent conditions of life, and the passions inter 
woven into our nature, (both which have been 
allotted to us for wise purposes, and without which 
we could not easily afford a proof of the existence 


of that which is denominated virtue,) have a ten- 
dency to produce vice and wretchedness among 
us, yet we see in this our constitution what may 
operate partially as preventives and correctives 
of them. If there be a radical propensity in our 
nature to do that which is wrong, there is on the 
other hand a counteracting power within it, or an 
impulse, by means of the action of the Divine 
Spirit upon our minds, which urges us to do that 
which is right. If the voice of temptation, clothed 
in musical and seducing accents, charms us one 
way, the voice of holiness, speaking to us from 
within in a solemn and powerful manner, com- 
mands us another. Does One man obtain a vic- 
tory over his corrupt affections 1 an immediate 
perception of pleasure, like the feeling of a reward 
divinely conferred upon him, is noticed. Does 
another fall prostrate beneath their power ? a 
painful feeling, and such as pronounces to him 
the sentence of reproof and punishment, is found 
to follow. If one, by suffering his heart to be- 
come hardened, oppresses a fellow-creature, the 
tear of sympathy starts up in the eye of another, 
and the latter instantly feels a desire, involun- 
tarily generated, of flying to his relief. Thus 
impulses, feelings, and dispositions have been im- 
planted in our nature for the purpose of preventing 
and rectifying the evils of life. And as these 
have operated so as to stimulate some men to 
lessen them by the exercise of an amiable charity, 
so they have operated to stimulate others, in 
various other ways, to the same end. Hence the 


philosopher has left moral precepts behind him 
in favor of benevolence, and the legislator has 
endeavored to prevent barbarous practices by the 
introduction of laws. 

In consequence then of these impulses and 
feelings, by which the pure power in our nature 
is thus made to act as a check upon the evil part 
of it, and in consequence of the influence which 
philosophy and legislative wisdom have had in 
their respective provinces, there has been always, 
in all times and countries, a counteracting energy, 
which has opposed itself more or less to the crimes 
and miseries of mankind. But it seems to have 
been reserved for Christianity to increase this 
energy, and to give it the widest possible domain. 
It was reserved for her, under the same Divine 
influence, to give the best views of the nature, 
and of the present and future condition of man ; 
to afford the best moral precepts, to communicate 
the most benign stimulus to the heart, to produce 
the most blameless conduct, and thus to cut off 
many of the causes of wretchedness, and to heal 
it wherever it was found. At her command, 
wherever she has been duly acknowledged, many 
of the evils of life have already fled. The pris- 
oner of war is no longer led into the amphitheatre 
to become a gladiator, and to imbrue his hands 
in the blood of his fellow-captive for the sport of 
a thoughtless multitude. The stern priest, cruel 
through fanaticism and custom, no longer leads 
his fellow-creature to the altar, to sacrifice him to 
fictitious gods. The venerable martyr, courage- 


ous through faith and the sanctity of his life, is 
no longer hurried to the flames. The haggard 
witch, poring over her incantations by moon- 
light, no longer scatters her superstitious poison 
among her miserable neighbors, nor suffers for her 

But in whatever way Christianity may have 
operated towards the increase of this energy, or 
towards a diminution of human misery, it has 
operated in none more powerfully than by the 
new views, and consequent duties, which it intro- 
duced on the subject of charity, or practical be- 
nevolence and love. Men in ancient times looked 
upon their talents, of whatever description, as their 
own, which they might use or cease to use at their 
discretion. But the author of our religion was the 
first who taught that, however in a legal point of 
view the talent of individuals might belong exclu- 
sively to themselves, so that no other person had a 
right to demand the use of it by force, yet in the 
Christian dispensation they were but the stewards 
of it for good ; that so much was expected from 
this stewardship, that it was difficult for those who 
were intrusted with it to enter into his spiritual 
kingdom ; that these had no right to conceal their 
talent in a napkin ; but that they were bound to 
dispense a portion of it to the relief of their fel- 
low-creatures ; and that in proportion to the mag- 
nitude of it they were accountable for the exten- 
siveness of its use. He was the first, who pro- 
nounced the misapplication of it to be a crime, and 
to be a crime of no ordinary dimensions. He was 

VOL. I. 2 


the first, who broke down the boundary between 
Jew and Gentile, and therefore the first, who 
pointed out to men the inhabitants of other coun- 
tries for the exercise of their philanthropy and 
love. Hence a distinction is to be made both in 
the'principle and practice of charity, as existing in 
ancient or in modern times. Though the old phi- 
losophers, historians, and poets, frequently incul- 
cated benevolence, we have no reason to conclude 
from any facts they have left us, that persons in 
their days did any thing more than occasionally 
relieve an unfortunate object, who might present 
himself before them, or that, however they might 
deplore the existence of public evils among them, 
they joined in associations for their suppression, or 
that they carried their charity, as bodies of men, 
into other kingdoms. To Christianity alone we 
are indebted for the new and sublime spectacle of 
seeing men going beyond the bounds of individual 
usefulness to each other ; of seeing them associate 
for the extirpation of private and public misery ; 
and of seeing them carry their charity, as a united 
brotherhood, into distant lands. And in this wider 
field of benevolence it would be unjust not to con- 
fess, that no country has shone with more true 
lustre than our own, there being scarcely any case 
of acknowledged affliction, for which some of her 
Christian children have not united in an attempt 
to provide relief. 

Among the evils, corrected or subdued, either 
by the general influence of Christianity on the 
minds of men, or by particular associations of 


Christians, the African* Slave-trade appears to 
me to have occupied the foremost place. The 
abolition of it, therefore, of which it has devolved 
upon me to write the history, should be accounted 
as one of the greatest blessings, and, as such, 
should be one of the most copious sources of our 
joy. Indeed I know of no evil, the removal of 
which should excite in us a higher degree of plea- 
sure. For in considerations of this kind, are we 
not usually influenced by circumstances 1 Are not 
our feelings usually affected according to the situ- 
ation, or the magnitude, or the importance of these - 
Are they not more or less elevated as the evil unde . 
our contemplation has been more or less produc- 
tive of misery, or more or less productive of guilt % 
Are they not more or less elevated, again, as we 
have found it more or less considerable in extent % 
Our sensations will undoubtedly be in proportion to 
such circumstances, or our joy to the appreciation 
or mensuration of the evil which has been removed. 
To value the blessing of the abolition as we 
ought, or to appreciate the joy and gratitude which 
we ought to feel concerning it, we must enter a 
little into the circumstances of the trade. Our 
statement, however, of these needs not be long. 
A few pages will do all that is necessary ! A glance 
only into such a subject as this will be sufficient to 
affect the heart ; to arouse our indignation and 
our pity ; and to teach us the importance of the 
victory obtained. 

* Slavery had been before annihilated by Christianity, I mean in 
the west of Europe, at the close of the twelfth century. 


The first subject for consideration, towards ena- 
bling us to make the estimate in question, will 
be that of the nature of the evil belonging to the 
Slave-trade. This may be seen by examining it 
in three points of view : First, As it has been 
proved to arise on the continent of Africa in the 
course of reducing the inhabitants of it to slavery ; 
Secondly, In the course of conveying them from 
thence to the lands or colonies of other nations ; 
And, Thirdly, In continuing them there as slaves. 

To see it as it has been shown to arise in the 
first case, let us suppose ourselves on the Continent 
just mentioned. Well then : we are landed ; Ave 
are already upon our travels ; we have just passed 
through one forest ; we are now come to a more 
open place, which indicates an approach to habita- 
tions. And what object is that, which first obtrudes 
itself upon our sight ? Who is that wretched 
woman, whom we discover under that noble tree, 
wringing her hands, and beating her breast, as if 
in the agonies of despair ? Three days has she 
been there at intervals to look and to watch, and 
this is the fourth morning, and no tidings of her 
children yet. Beneath its spreading boughs they 
were accustomed to play : but alas ! the savage 
manstealer interrupted their playful mirth, and 
has taken them for ever from her sight. 

But let us leave the cries of this unfortunate 
woman, and hasten into another district : and what 
do we first see here 1 Who is he that just now 
started across the narrow pathway, as if afraid of 
a human face 1 What is that sudden rustling 


among the leaves'? Why are those persons flying 
from our approach, and hiding themselves in yon 
darkest thicket ] Behold, as we get into the plain, 
a deserted village ! The rice-field has been just 
trodden down around it. An aged man, venerable 
by his silver beard, lies wounded and dying near 
the threshold of his hut. War, suddenly insti- 
gated by avarice, has just visited the dwellings 
which we see. The old have been butchered, 
because unfit for slavery, and the young have been 
carried off, except such as have fallen in the con- 
flict, or have escaped among the woods behind us. 

But let us hasten from this cruel scene, which 
gives rise to so many melancholy reflections. Let 
us cross yon distant river, and enter into some 
new domain. But are we relieved even here from 
afflicting spectacles ? Look at that immense crowd, 
which appears to be gathered in a ring. See the 
accused innocent in the middle. The ordeal of 
poisonous water has been administered to him, as 
a test of his innocence or his guilt. He begins to 
be sick, and pale. Alas ! yon mournful shriek of 
his relatives confirms that the loss of his freedom 
is now sealed. 

And whither shall we go now ? The night is 
approaching fast. Let us find some friendly hut, 
where sleep may make us forget for a while the 
sorrows of the day. Behold a hospitable native 
ready to receive us at his door ! Let us avail our- 
selves of his kindness, And now let us give our- 
selves to repose. But why, when our eyelids are 

but just closed, do we find ourselves thus suddenly 
vol. i. 2 * 


awakened ? What is the meaning" of the noise 
around us, of the trampling of people's feet, of 
the rustling of the bow, the quiver, and the lance ? 
Let us rise up and inquire. Behold ! the inhabit- 
ants are all alarmed! A wakeful woman has 
shown them yon distant column of smoke and 
blaze. The neighboring village is on fire. The 
prince, unfaithful to the sacred duty of the pro- 
tection of his subjects, has surrounded them. He 
is now burning their habitations, and seizing, as 
saleable booty, the fugitives from the flames. 

Such then are some of the scenes that have 
been passing in Africa in consequence of the exist- 
ence of the Slave-trade ; or such is the nature of 
the evil, as it has shown itself in the first of the 
cases we have noticed. Let us now estimate it as 
it has been proved to exist in the second ; or let 
us examine the state of the unhappy Africans, 
reduced to slavery in this manner, while on board 
the vessels, which are to convey them across the 
ocean to other lands. And here I must observe at 
once, that, as far as this part of the evil is con- 
cerned, I am at a loss to describe it. Where shall 
I find words to express properly their sorrow, as 
arising from the reflection of being parted for ever 
from their friends, their relatives, and their coun- 
try ] Where shall I find language to paint in 
appropriate colors the horror of mind brought on 
by thoughts of their future unknown destination, 
of which they can augur nothing but misery from 
all that they have yet seen ? How shall I make 
known their situation, while laboring under pain- 


ful disease, or while struggling in the suffocating 
holds of their prisons, like animals inclosed in an 
exhausted receiver *? How shall I describe their 
feelings as exposed to all the personal indignities, 
which lawless appetite or brutal passion may sug- 
gest % How shall I exhibit their sufferings as 
determining to refuse sustenance and die, or as 
resolving to break their chains, and, disdaining to 
live as slaves, to punish their oppressors 1 How 
shall I give an idea of their agony, when under 
various punishments and tortures for their reputed 
crimes 1 Indeed every part of this subject defies 
my powers, and I must therefore satisfy myself 
and the reader with a general representation, or in 
the words of a celebrated member of Parliament, 
that " Never was so much human suffering con- 
densed in so small a space." 

I come now to the evil, as it has been proved to 
arise in the third case ; or to consider the situation 
of the unhappy victims of the trade, when their 
painful voyages are over, or after they have been 
landed upon their destined shores. And here we 
are to view them first under the degrading light 
of cattle. We are to see them examined, handled, 
selected, separated, and sold. Alas ! relatives are 
separated from relatives, as if, like cattle, they had 
no rational intellect, no power of feeling the near- 
ness of relationship, nor sense of the duties belong- 
ing to the ties of life ! We are next to see them 
laboring, and this for the benefit of those, to whom 
they are under no obligation, by any law either 
natural or divine, to obey. We are to see them^ 


if refusing the commands of their purchasers, how- 
ever weary, or feeble, or indisposed, subject to cor- 
poreal punishments, and, if forcibly resisting them, 
to death. We are to see them in a state of general 
degradation and misery. The knowledge, which 
their oppressors have of their own crime in having 
violated the rights of nature, and of the disposi- 
tion of the injured to seek all opportunities of 
revenge, produces a fear which dictates to them 
the necessity of a system of treatment by which 
they shall keep up a wide distinction between the 
two, and by which the noble feelings of the latter 
shall be kept down, and their spirits broken. We 
are to see them again subject to individual perse- 
cution, as anger, or malice, or any bad passion may 
suggest. Hence the whip ; the chain ; the iron 
collar. Hence the various modes of private tor- 
ture, of which so many accounts have been truly 
given. Nor can such horrible cruelties be discov- 
ered so as to be made punishable, while the testi- 
mony of any number of the oppressed is invalid 
against the oppressors, however they may be 
offences against the laws. And, lastly, we are to 
see their innocent offspring, against whose personal 
liberty the shadow of an argument cannot be 
advanced, inheriting all the miseries of their pa- 
rents' lot. 

The evil then, as far as it has been hitherto 
viewed, presents to us in its three several depart- 
ments a measure of human suffering not to be 
equalled; not to be calculated ; not to be described, 
But would that we could consider this part of the 


subject as dismissed ! Would that in each of the 
departments now examined there was no counter- 
part left us to contemplate ! but this cannot be. 
For if there be persons, who suffer unjustly, there 
must be others, who oppress. And if there be 
those who oppress, there must be to the suffering, 
which has been occasioned, a corresponding portion 
of immorality or guilt. 

We are obliged then to view the counterpart of 
the evil in question, before we can make a proper 
estimate of the nature of it. And, in examining 
this part of it, we shall find that we have a no less 
frightful picture to behold than in the former cases ; 
or that, while the miseries endured by the unfor- 
tunate Africans excite our pity on the one hand, 
the vices, which are connected with them, provoke 
our indignation and abhorrence on the other. The 
Slave-trade, in this point of view, must strike us 
as an immense mass of evil on account of the crim- 
inality attached to it, as displayed in the various 
branches of it, which have already been examined. 
For, to take the counterpart of the evil in the first 
of these, can we say, that no moral turpitude is to 
be placed to the account of those, who living on 
the continent of Africa, give birth to the enormities 
which take place in consequence of the prosecution 
of this trade 1 Is not that man made morally 
worse, who is induced to become a tiger to his 
species, or who, instigated by avarice, lies in wait 
in the thicket to get possession of his fellow-man 1 
Is no injustice manifest in the land, where the 
prince, unfaithful to his duty, seizes his innocent 


subjects, and sells them for slaves ] Are no moral 
evils produced among those communities, which 
make war upon other communities for the sake of 
plunder, and without any previous provocation or 
offence ] Does no crime attach to those, who 
accuse others falsely, or who multiply and divide 
crimes for the sake of the profit of the punishment, 
and who for the same reason continue the'use of 
barbarous and absurd ordeals as a test of innocence 
or guilt 1 

In the second of these branches the counterpart 
of the evil is to be seen in the conduct of those, 
who purchase the miserable natives in their own 
country, and convey them to distant lands. And 
here questions, similar to the former, may be asked. 
Do they experience no corruption of their nature, 
or become chargeable with no violation of right, 
who, when they go with their ships to this conti- 
nent, know the enormities which their visits there 
will occasion, who buy their fellow-creature man, 
and this, knowing the way in which he comes into 
their hands, and who chain, and imprison, and 
scourge him % Do the moral feelings of those per- 
sons escape without injury, whose hearts are hard- 
ened ] And can the hearts of those be otherwise 
than hardened, who are familiar with the tears and 
groans of innocent strangers forcibly torn away 
from every thing that is dear to them in life, who 
are accustomed to see them on board their vessels 
in a state of suffocation and in the agonies of de- 
spair, and w T ho are themselves in the habits of the 
cruel use of arbitrary power ? 


The counterpart of the evil in its third branch 
is to be seen in the conduct of those, who, when 
these miserable people have been landed, purchase 
and carry them to their respective homes. And 
let us see whether a mass of wickedness is not 
generated also in the present case. Can those 
have nothing to answer for, who separate the faith- 
fid ties which nature and religion have created % 
Can their feelings be otherwise than corrupted, 
who consider their fellow-creatures as brutes, or 
treat those as cattle, who may become the temples 
of the Holy Spirit, and in whom the Divinity dis- 
dains not himself to dwell 1 Is there no injustice 
in forcing men to labor without wages 1 Is there 
no breach of duty, when we are commanded to 
clothe the naked, and feed the hungry, and visit 
the sick and in prison, in exposing them to want, 
in torturing them by cruel punishment, and in 
grinding them down by hard labor, so as to shorten 
their days 1 Is there no crime in adopting a sys- 
tem, which keeps down all the noble faculties of 
their souls, and which positively debases and cor- 
rupts their nature 1 Is there no crime in perpetu- 
ating these evils among their innocent offspring ? 
And finally, besides all these crimes, is there not 
naturally in the familiar sight of the exercise, but 
more especially in the exercise itself, of uncon- 
trolled power, that which vitiates the internal man? 
In seeing misery stalk daily over the land, do not 
all become insensibly hardened 1 By giving birth 
to that misery themselves, do they not become 
abandoned ] In what state of society are the cor- 


rupt appetites so easily, so quickly, and so fre- 
quently indulged, and where else, by means of 
frequent indulgence, do these experience such a 
monstrous growth 1 Where else is the temper sub- 
ject to such frequent irritation, or passion to such 
little control 1 Yes ; if the unhappy slave is in an 
unfortunate situation, so is the tyrant who holds 
him. Action and reaction are equal to each other, 
as well in the moral as in the natural world. You 
cannot exercise an improper dominion over a fel- 
low-creature, but by a wise ordering of Providence 
you must necessarily injure yourself. 

Having now considered the nature of the evil of 
the Slave-trade in its three separate departments 
of suffering, and in its corresponding counterparts 
of guilt, I shall make a few observations on the 
extent of it. 

On this subject it must strike us, that the misery 
and the crimes included in the evil, as it has been 
found in Africa, were not like common maladies, 
which make a short or periodical visit and then are 
gone, but that they were continued daily. Nor 
were they like diseases, which from local causes, 
attack a village or a town, and by the skill of the 
physician, under the blessing of Providence, are 
removed, but they affected a whole continent. 
The trade with all its horrors began at the river 
Senegal, and continued, winding with the coast, 
through its several geographical divisions to Cape 
Negro ; a distance of more than three thousand 
miles. In various lines or paths formed at right 
angles from the shore, and passing into the heart 


of the country, slaves were procured and brought 
down. The distance, which many of them trav- 
elled) was immense. Those, who have been in 
Africa, have assured us, that they came as far as 
from the sources of their largest rivers, which we 
know to be many hundred miles inland, and the 
natives have told us 5 in their way of computation, 
that they came a journey of many moons. 

It must strike us again, that the misery and the 
crimes, included in the evil, as it has been shown 
in the transportation, had no ordinary bounds. 
They were not to be seen in the crossing of a river, 
but of an ocean. They did not begin in the morn- 
ing and end at night, but were continued for many 
weeks, and sometimes by casualties for a quarter 
of the year. They were not limited to the pre- 
cincts of a solitary ship, but were spread among 
many vessels ; and these were so constantly pass- 
ing, that the ocean itself never ceased to be a 
witness of their existence. 

And it must strike us finally, that the misery 
and crimes, included in the evil as it has been 
found in foreign lands, were not confined within 
the shores of a little island. Most of the islands 
of a continent, and many of these of considerable 
population and extent, were filled with them. And 
the continent itself, to which these geographically 
belong, was widely polluted by their domain. 
Hence, if we were to take the vast extent of space 
occupied by these crimes and sufferings from the 
heart of Africa to its shores, and that which they 
filled on the continent of America and the islands 

VOL. I. 3 


adjacent, and were to join the crimes and sufferings 
in one to those in the other by the crimes and suf- 
ferings which took place in the track of the vessels 
successively crossing the Atlantic, we should be- 
hold a vast belt as it were of physical and moral 
evil, reaching through land and ocean to the length 
of nearly half the circle of the globe. 

The next view, which I shall take of this evil, 
will be as it relates to the difficulty of subduing it. 

This difficulty may be supposed to have been 
more than ordinarily great. Many evils of a pub- 
lic nature, which existed in former times, were the 
offspring of ignorance and superstition, and they 
were subdued of course by the progress of light 
and knowledge. But the evil in question began 
in avarice. It was nursed also by worldly interest. 
It did not therefore so easily yield to the usual 
correctives of disorders in the world. We may 
observe also, that the interest by which it was thus 
supported, was not that of a few individuals, nor 
of one body, but of many bodies of men. It was 
interwoven again into the system of the commerce 
and of the revenue of nations. Hence the mer- 
chant ; the planter ; the mortgagee ; the manu- 
facturer ; the politician ; the legislator ; the cabinet 
minister ; lifted up their voices against the anni- 
hilation of it. For these reasons the Slave-trade 
may be considered, like the fabulous hydra, to 
have had a hundred heads, every one of which it 
Was necessary to cut off before it could be subdued. 
And as none but Hercules was fitted to conquer 
the one, so nothing less than extraordinary pru- 


dence, courage, labor, and patience, could over- 
come the other. To protection in this manner by 
his hundred interests it was owing - , that the mon- 
ster stalked in security for so long a time. He 
stalked too in the open day, committing his mighty 
depredations. And when good men, whose duty 
it was to mark him as the object of their destruc- 
tion, began to assail him, he did not fly, but 
gnashed his teeth at them, growling savagely at 
the same time, and putting himself into a posture 
of defiance. 

We see then, in whatever light we consider the 
Slave-trade, whether we examine into the nature 
of it, or whether we look into the extent of it, or 
whether we estimate the difficulty of subduing it, 
we must conclude that no evil more monstrous 
has ever existed upon earth. But if so, then we 
have proved the truth of the position, that the 
abolition of it ought to be accounted by us as one 
of the greatest blessings, and that it ought to be 
one of the most copious sources of our joy. In- 
deed I do not know, how we can sufficiently ex- 
press what we ought to feel upon this occasion. 
It becomes us as individuals to rejoice. It becomes 
us as a nation to rejoice. It becomes us even to 
perpetuate our joy to our posterity. I do not mean 
however by anniversaries, which are to be cele- 
brated by the ringing of bells and convivial meet- 
ings, but by handing down this great event so 
impressively to our children, as to raise in them, 
if not continual, yet frequently renewed thanks- 
givings, to the great Creator of the universe, for 


the manifestation of this his favor, in having dis- 
posed our legislators to take away such a portion 
of suffering from our fellow-creatures, and such a 
load of guilt from our native land. 

And as the contemplation of the removal of this 
monstrous evil should excite in us the most pleas- 
ing and grateful sensations, so the perusal of the 
history of it should afford us lessons, which it 
must be useful to us to know or to be reminded 
of. For it cannot be otherwise than useful to us 
to know the means which have been used, and the 
different persons who have moved, in so great a 
cause. It cannot be otherwise than useful to us 
to be impressively reminded of the simple axiom, 
which the perusal of this history will particularly 
suggest to us, that "the greatest works must have 
a beginning;" because the fostering of such an 
idea, in our minds cannot but encourage us to un- 
dertake the removal of evils, however vast they 
may appear in their size, or however difficult to 
overcome. It cannot again be otherwise than 
useful to us to be assured (and this history will 
assure us of it) that in any work, which is a work 
of righteousness, however small the beginning may 
be, or however small the progress may be that we 
may make in it, we ought never to despair ; for 
that, whatever checks and discouragements we 
may meet with, "no virtuous effort is ever ulti- 
mately lost." And finally, it cannot be otherwise 
than useful to us to form the opinion, which the 
contemplation of this subject must always pro- 
duce, namely, that many of the evils, which are 


still left among us, may, by an union of wise and 
virtuous individuals, be greatly alleviated, if not 
entirely done away : for if the great evil of the 
Slave-trade, so deeply intrenched by its hundred 
interests, has fallen prostrate before the efforts of 
those who attacked it, what evil of a less magni- 
tude shall not be more easily subdued? O may 
reflections of this sort always enliven us, always 
encourage us, always stimulate us to our duty ! 
May we never cease to believe, that many of 
the miseries of life are still to be remedied, or to 
rejoice that we may be permitted, if we will only 
make ourselves worthy by our endeavors, to heal 
them ! May we encourage for this purpose every 
generous sympathy that arises in our hearts, as 
the offspring of the Divine influence for our good, 
convinced that we are not born for ourselves alone, 
and that the Divinity never so fully dwells in us, 
as when we do his will ; and that we never do his 
will more agreeably, as far as it has been revealed 
to us, than when we employ our time in works of 
charity towards the rest of our fellow-creatures ! 

vol. i. 3* 



TRADE. — Inquiry as to those who favored the cause of the Afri- 

as necessary forerunners in that cause. — flrst forerunners 
were Cardinal Ximenes, the Emperor Charles the Fifth, Pope 
Leo the Tenth, Elizabeth Queen of England, Louis the Thir- 
teenth of France. 

It would be considered by many, who have stood 
at the mouth of a river, and witnessed its torrent 
there, to be both an interesting" and a pleasing 
journey to go to the fountainhead, and then to 
travel on its banks downwards, and to mark the 
different streams in each side, which should run 
into it, and feed it. So I presume the reader will 
not be a little interested and entertained in view- 
ing with me the course of the abolition of the 
Slave-trade, in first finding its source, and then in 
tracing the different springs which have con- 
tributed to its increase. And here I may observe 
that, in doing this, we shall have advantages, 
which historians have not always had in develop- 
ing the causes of things. Many have handed 
down to us events, for the production of which 
they have given us but their own conjectures. 
There has been often, indeed, such a distance be- 
tween the events themselves and the lives of those 
who have recorded them, that the different means 
and motives belonging to them have been lost 


through time. On the present occasion, however, 
we shall have the peculiar satisfaction of knowing 
that we communicate the truth, or that those, 
which we unfold, are the true causes and means. 
For the most remote of all the human springs, 
which can be traced as having any bearing upon 
the great event in question, will fall within the 
period of three centuries, and the most powerful 
of them within the last twenty years. These cir- 
cumstances indeed have had their share in inducing 
me to engage in the present history. Had I mea- 
sured it by the importance of the subject, 1 had 
been deterred : but believing that most readers 
love the truth, and that it ought to be the object 
of all writers to promote it, and believing, moreover, 
that I was in possession of more facts on this sub- 
ject than any other person, I thought I was pecu- 
liarly called upon to undertake it. 

In tracing the different streams from whence the 
torrent arose, which has now happily swept away 
the Slave-trade, I must begin with an inquiry as to 
those who favored the cause of the injured Afri- 
cans from the year 1516 to the year 1787, at which 
latter period a number of persons associated them- 
selves in England for its abolition. For though 
they, who belonged to this association, may, in 
consequence of having pursued a regular system, 
be called the principal actors, yet it must be ac- 
knowledged that their efforts would never have 
been so effectual, if the minds of men had not been 
prepared by others, who had moved before them. 
Great events have never taken place without pre- 


viously disposing causes. So it is in the case be- 
fore us. Hence they, who lived even in early times, 
and favored this great cause, may be said to have 
been necessary precursors in it. And here it may 
be proper to observe, that it is by no means neces- 
sary that ail these should have been themselves 
actors in the production of this great event. Per- 
sons have contributed towards it in different ways. 
Some have written expressly on the subject, who 
have had no opportunity of promoting it by per- 
sonal exertions. Others have only mentioned it 
incidentally in their writings. Others, in an ele- 
vated rank and station, have cried out publicly 
concerning it, whose sayings have been recorded. 
All these, however, may be considered as neces- 
sary forerunners in their day. For all of them have 
brought the subject more or less into notice. They 
have more or less enlightened the mind upon it. 
They have more or less impressed it. And there- 
fore each may be said to have had his share in 
diffusing and keeping up a certain portion of 
knowledge and feeling concerning it, which has 
been eminently useful in the promotion of the 

It is rather remarkable, that the first forerunners 
and coadjutors should have been men in power. 

So early as in the year 1503 a few slaves had 
been sent from the Portuguese settlements in Africa 
into the Spanish colonies in America. In 1511, 
Ferdinand the Fifth, king of Spain, permitted them 
to be carried in greater numbers. Ferdinand, how- 
ever, must have been ignorant in these early times 


of the piratical manner in which the Portuguese 
had procured them. He could have known nothing 
of their treatment when in bondage, nor could he 
have viewed the few uncertain adventurous trans- 
portations of them into his dominions in the west- 
ern world, in the light of a regular trade. After 
his death, however, a proposal was made by Bar- 
tholomew de las Casas, the bishop of Chiapa, to 
cardinal Ximenes, who held the reins of the gov- 
ernment of Spain till Charles the Fifth came to 
the throne, for the establishment of a regular sys- 
tem of commerce in the persons of the native 
Africans. The object of Bartholomew de las Casas 
was undoubtedly to save the American Indians, 
whose cruel treatment and almost extirpation he 
had witnessed during his residence among them, 
and in whose behalf he had undertaken a voyage 
to the court of Spain. It is difficult to reconcile 
this proposal with the humane and charitable spirit 
of the bishop of Chiapa. But it is probable he 
believed that a code of laws would soon be estab- 
lished in favor both of Africans and of the natives 
in the Spanish settlements, and that he flattered 
himself that, being about to return and to live in 
the country of their slavery, he could look to the 
execution of it. The cardinal, however, with a 
foresight, a benevolence, and a justice, which will 
always do honor to his memory, refused the pro- 
posal, not only judging it to be unlawful to consign 
innocent people to slavery at all, but to be very 
inconsistent to deliver the inhabitants of one coun- 
try from a state of misery by consigning to it those 


of another. Ximenes therefore may be considered 
as one of the first great friends of the Africans 
after the partial beginning of the trade. 

This answer of the cardinal, as it showed his 
virtue as an individual, so it was peculiarly honor- 
able to him as a public man, and ought to operate 
as a lesson to other statesmen, how they admit 
any thing new, among political regulations and 
establishments, which is connected in the smallest 
degree with injustice. For evil, when once sanc- 
tioned by governments, spreads in a tenfold degree, 
and may, unless seasonably checked, become so 
ramified, as to affect the reputation of a country, 
and to render its own removal scarcely possible 
without detriment to the political concerns of the 
state. In no instance has this been verified more 
than in the case of the Slave-trade. Never was 
our national character more tarnished, and our 
prosperity more clouded by guilt. Never was 
there a monster more difficult to subdue. Even 
they, who heard as it were the shrieks of oppres- 
sion, and wished to assist the sufferers, were fearful 
of joining in their behalf. While they acknowl- 
edged the necessity of removing one evil, they 
were terrified by the prospect of introducing an- 
other ; and were therefore only able to relieve their 
feelings, by lamenting in the bitterness of their 
hearts, that this traffic had ever been begun at all. 

After the death of cardinal Ximenes, the em- 
peror Charles the Fifth, who had come into power, 
encouraged the Slave-trade. In 1517 he granted 
a patent to one of his Flemish favorites, contain- 


ing an exclusive right of importing four thousand 
Africans into America. But he lived long enough 
to repent of what he had thus inconsiderately 
done. For in the year 1542 he made a code of 
laws for the better protection of the unfortunate 
Indians in his foreign dominions ; and he stopped 
the progress of African slavery by an order, that 
all slaves in his American islands should be made 
free. This order was executed by Pedro de la 
Gasca. Manumission took place as well in His- 
paniola as on the continent. But on the return of 
Gasca to Spain, and the retirement of Charles into 
a monastery, slavery was revived. 

It is impossible to pass over this instance of the 
abolition of slavery by Charles in all his foreign 
dominions, without some comments. It shows 
him, first, to have been a friend both to the Indians 
and the Africans, as a part of the human race. 
It shows he was ignorant of what he was doing 
when he gave his sanction to this cruel trade. It 
shows when legislators give one set of men an 
undue power over another, how quickly they abuse 
it ; or he never would have found himself obliged 
in the short space of twenty-five years to undo 
that which he had countenanced as a great state- 
measure. And while it confirms the former lesson 
to statesmen, of watching the beginnings or prin- 
ciples of things in their political movements, it 
should teach them never to persist in the support 
of evils, through the false shame of being obliged 
to confess that they had once given them their 
sanction, nor to delay the cure of them because, 


politically speaking, neither this nor that is the 
proper season ; but to do them away instantly, as 
there can only be one fit or proper time in the eye 
of religion, namely, on the conviction of their 

From the opinions of cardinal Ximenes and of 
the emperor Charles the Fifth, I hasten to that 
which was expressed much about the same time, 
in a public capacity, by pope Leo the Tenth. The 
Dominicans in Spanish America, witnessing the 
cruel treatment which the slaves underwent there, 
considered slavery as utterly repugnant to the 
principles of the gospel, and recommended the 
abolition of it. The Franciscans did not favor 
the former in this their scheme of benevolence ; 
and the consequence was, that a controversy on 
this subject sprung up between them, which was 
carried to this pope for his decision. Leo exerted 
himself, much to his honor, in behalf of the poor 
sufferers, and declared " That not only the Chris- 
tian religion, but that Nature herself cried out 
against a state of slavery." This answer was cer- 
tainly worthy of one, who was deemed the head 
of the Christian church. It must, however, be con- 
fessed that it would have been strange if Leo, in 
his situation as pontiff, had made a different reply. 
He could never have denied that God was no re- 
specter of persons. He must have acknowledged 
that men were bound to love each other as breth- 
ren. And, if he admitted the doctrine, that all 
men were accountable for their actions hereafter, 
he could never have prevented the deduction, that 


it was necessary they should be free. Nor could 
he, as a man of high attainments, living early in 
the sixteenth century, have been ignorant of what 
had taken place in the twelfth ; or that, by the 
latter end of this latter century, Christianity had 
obtained the undisputed honor of having extirpated 
slavery from the western part of the European 

From Spain and Italy I come to England. The 
first importation of slaves from Africa by our coun- 
trymen was in the reign of Elizabeth, in the year 
1562. This great princess seems on the very com- 
mencement of the trade to have questioned its 
lawfulness. She seems to have entertained a reli- 
gious scruple concerning it, and, indeed, to have 
revolted at the very thought of it. She seems to 
have been aware of the evils to which its continu- 
ance might lead, or that, if it were sanctioned, the 
most unjustifiable means might be made use of to 
procure the persons of the natives of Africa. And 
in what light she would have viewed any acts of 
this kind, had they taken place, we may conjec- 
ture from this fact ; that when captain (afterwards 
Sir John) Hawkins returned from his first voyage 
to Africa and Hispaniola, whither he had carried 
slaves, she sent for him, and, as we learn from 
Hill's Naval History, expressed her concern lest 
any of the Africans should be carried off without 
their free consent, declaring that " It would be 
detestable, and call down the vengeance of Heaven 
upon the undertakers." Captain Hawkins prom- 
ised to comply with the injunctions of Elizabeth 

VOL. I. 4 


in this respect. But he did not keep his word ; 
for when he went to Africa again, he seized many 
of the inhabitants, and carried them off as slaves, 
which occasioned Hill, in the account he gives of 
his second voyage, to use these remarkable words : 
" Here began the horrid practice of forcing the 
Africans into slavery, an injustice and barbarity 
which, so sure as there is vengeance in heaven for 
the worst of crimes, will sometime be the destruc- 
tion of all who allow or encourage it." That the 
trade should have been suffered to continue under 
such a princess, and after such solemn expressions 
as those which she has been described to have 
uttered, can be only attributed to the pains taken 
by those concerned in it to keep her ignorant of 
the truth. 

From England I now pass over to France. La- 
bat, a Roman missionary, in his account of the 
isles of America, mentions, that Louis the Thir- 
teenth was very uneasy when he was about to 
issue the edict, by which all Africans coming into 
his colonies were to be made slaves, and that this 
uneasiness continued, till he was assured, that the 
introduction of them in this capacity into his 
foreign dominions was the readiest way of convert- 
ing them to the principles of the Christian religion. 
These, then> were the first forerunners in the 
great cause of the abolition of the Slave-trade. 
Nor have their services towards it been of small 
moment. For, in the first place, they have ena- 
bled those, who came after them, and who took 
an active interest in the same cause, to state the 


great authority of their opinions and of their ex- 
ample. They have enabled them, again, to detail 
the history connected with these, in consequence 
of which circumstances have been laid open, which 
it is of great importance to know. For have they 
not enabled them to state, that the African Slave- 
trade never would have been permitted to exist but 
for the ignorance of those in authority concerning 
it ; that at its commencement there was a revolt- 
ing of nature against it ; a suspicion ; a caution ; 
a fear ; both as to its unlawfulness and its effects'? 
Have they not enabled them to state, that false- 
hoods were advanced, and these concealed under 
the mask of religion, to deceive those who had the 
power to suppress it ] Have they not enabled 
them to state, that this trade began in piracy, and 
that it was continued upon the principles of force 1 
And, finally, have not they, who have been ena- 
bled to make these statements, knowing all the 
circumstances connected with them, found their 
own zeal increased, and their own courage and 
perseverance strengthened ; and have they not, 
by the communication of them to others, produced 
many friends and even laborers in the cause 1 



Forerunners continued to 1787 — divided from this time into four 
classes. — First class consists principally of persons in Great 
Britain of various descriptions— Godwyn — Baxter — Tryon— South- 
ern — Primatt — Montesquieu — Hutcheson— Sharp — Ramsay — and a 
multitude of others, whose names and services follow. 

I have hitherto traced the history of the fore- 
runners in this great cause only up to about the 
year 1640. If I am to pursue my plan, I am to 
trace it to the year 1787. But in order to show 
what I intend in a clearer point of view, I shall 
divide those who have lived within this period, and 
who will now consist of persons in a less elevated 
station, into four classes : and I shall give to each 
class a distinct consideration by itself. 

Several of our old English writers, though they 
have not mentioned the African Slave-trade, or the 
slavery consequent upon it, in their respective 
works, have yet given their testimony of condem- 
nation against both. Thus our great Milton : 

" O execrable son, so to aspire 
Above his brethren, to himself assuming 
Authority usurped, from God not given ; 
He gave us only over beast, fish, fowl, 
Dominion absolute ; that right we hold 
By hip donation ; but man over men 
He made not lord, such title to himself 
Reserving, human left from human free." 

I might mention bishop Saunderson and others, 
who bore a testimony equally strong against the 


lawfulness of trading in the persons of men, and 
of holding them in bondage, but as I mean to con- 
fine myself to those, who have favored the cause 
of the Africans specifically, I cannot admit their 
names into any of the classes which have been 

Of those who compose the first class, defined as 
it has now been, I cannot name any individual who 
took a part in this cause till between the years 1670 
and 1680. For in the year 1640, and for a few 
years afterwards, the nature of the trade and of the 
slavery was but little known, except to a few indi- 
viduals, who were concerned in them ; and it is 
obvious that these would neither endanger their 
own interest nor proclaim their own guilt by ex- 
posing it. The first, whom I shall mention, is 
Morgan Godwyn, a clergyman of the established 
church. This pious divine wrote a Treatise upon 
the subject, which he dedicated to the then arch- 
bishop of Canterbury. He gave it to the world, 
at the time mentioned, under the title of " The 
Negroes and Indians Advocate." In this treatise 
he lays open the situation of these oppressed peo- 
ple, of whose sufferings he had been an eyewit- 
ness in the Island of Barbadoes. He calls forth 
the pity of the reader in an affecting manner, and 
exposes with a nervous eloquence the brutal senti- 
ments and conduct of their oppressors. This seems 
to have been the first work undertaken in England 
expressly in favor of the cause. 

The next person, whom I shall mention, is 
Richard Baxter, the celebrated divine among the 

vol. i, 4* 


Nonconformists. In his Christian Directory, pub- 
lished about the same time as the Negroes and In- 
dians Advocate, he gives advice to those masters 
in foreign plantations, who have Negroes and other 
slaves. In this he protests loudly against this 
trade. He says expressly that they, who go out 
as pirates, and take away poor Africans, or people 
of another land, who never forfeited life or liberty, 
and make them slaves and sell them, are the worst 
of robbers, and ought to be considered as the com- 
mon enemies of mankind ; and that they, who buy 
them, and use them as mere beasts for their own 
convenience, regardless of their spiritual welfare, 
are fitter to be called demons than Christians. He 
then proposes several queries, which he answers in 
a clear and forcible manner, showing the great 
inconsistency of this traffic, and the necessity of 
treating those then in bondage with tenderness 
and a due regard to their spiritual concerns. 

The Directory of Baxter was succeeded by a 
publication called " Friendly Advice to the Plant- 
ers : in three parts." The first of these was, "A 
brief Treatise of the principal Fruits and Herbs 
that grow in Barbadoes, Jamaica, and other Plant- 
ations in the West Indies." The second was, 
" The Negroes Complaint, or their hard Servitude, 
and the Cruelties practised upon them by divers 
of their Masters professing Christianity." And 
the third was, " A Dialogue between an Ethiopian 
and a Christian, his Master, in America." In the 
last of these, Thomas Tryon, who was the author, 
inveighs both against the commerce and the slavery 


of the Africans, and in a striking manner examines 
each by the touchstone of reason, humanity, jus- 
tice, and religion. 

In the year 1696, Southern brought forward his 
celebrated tragedy of Oronooko, by means of which 
many became enlightened upon the subject, and 
interested in it. For this tragedy was not a repre- 
sentation of fictitious circumstances, but of such 
as had occurred in the colonies, and as had been 
communicated in a publication by Mrs. Behn. 

The person, who seems to have noticed the sub- 
ject next was Dr. Primatt. In his " Dissertation 
on the Duty of Mercy, and on the Sin of Cruelty 
to Brute Animals," he takes occasion to advert to 
the subject of the African Slave-trade. " It has 
pleased God," says he, " to cover some men with 
white skins, and others with black ; but as there is 
neither merit nor demerit in complexion, the white 
man, notwithstanding the barbarity of custom and 
prejudice, can have no right by virtue of his color 
to enslave and tyrannize over the black man. For 
whether a man be white or black, such he is by 
God's appointment, and, abstractedly considered, 
is neither a subject for pride, nor an object of 

After Dr. Primatt, we come to baron Montes- 
quieu. " Slavery," says he, " is not good in itself. 
It is neither useful to the master nor to the slave. 
Not to the slave, because he can do nothing from 
virtuous motives. Not to the master, because he 
contracts among his slaves all sorts of bad habits, 
and accustoms himself to the neglect of all the 


moral virtues. He becomes haughty, passionate, 
obdurate, vindictive, voluptuous, and cruel." And 
with respect to this particular species of slavery he 
proceeds to say, " It is impossible to allow the Ne- 
groes are men, because, if we allow them to be 
men, it Avill begin to be believed that we ourselves 
are not Christians." 

Hutcheson, in his System of Moral Philosophy, 
endeavors to show that he, who detains another 
by force in slavery, can make no good title to him, 
and adds, " Strange that in any nation where a 
sense of liberty prevails, and where the Christian 
religion is professed, custom and high prospect of 
gain can so stupify the consciences of men and all 
sense of natural justice, that they can hear such 
computations made about the value of their fellowr 
men and their liberty without abhorrence and 
indignation !" 

Foster, in his Discourses on Natural Religion 
and Social Virtue, calls the slavery under our con- 
sideration " a criminal and outrageous violation 
of the natural rights of mankind." I am sorry 
that I have not room to say all that he says on this 
subject. Perhaps the following beautiful extracts 
may suffice : — 

" But notwithstanding this, we ourselves, who 
profess to be Christians, and boast of the peculiar 
advantages we enjoy by means of an express reve- 
lation of our duty from heaven, are in effect these 
very untaught and rude heathen countries. With 
all our superior light we instil into those, whom 
we call savage and barbarous, the most despicable 


opinion of human nature. We, to the utmost of 
our power, weaken and dissolve the universal tie, 
that binds and unites mankind. We practise what 
we should exclaim against as the utmost excess 
of cruelty and tyranny, if nations of the world, 
differing in color and form of government from 
ourselves, were so possessed of empire, as to be 
able to reduce us to a state of unmerited and bru- 
tish servitude. Of consequence we sacrifice our 
reason, our humanity, our Christianity, to an un- 
natural sordid gain. We teach other nations to 
despise and trample under foot all the obligations 
of social virtue. We take the most effectual 
method to prevent the propagation of the gospel, 
by representing it as a scheme of power and bar- 
barous oppression, and an enemy to the natural 
privileges and rights of man." 

" Perhaps all that I have now offered may be 
of very little weight to restrain this enormity, this 
aggravated iniquity. However, I shall still have 
the satisfaction of having entered my private pro- 
test against a practice, which, in my opinion, bids 
that God, who is the God and Father of the Gen- 
tiles unconverted to Christianity, most daring and 
bold defiance, and spurns at all the principles both 
of natural and revealed religion." 

The next author is Sir Richard Steele, who, by 
means of the affecting story of Inkle and Yarico, 
holds up this trade again to our abhorrence. 

In the year 1735, Atkins, who was a surgeon 
in the navy, published his voyage to Guinea, Bra- 
zil, and the West Indies, in his majesty's ships 


Swallow and Weymouth. In this work he de- 
scribes openly the manner of making the natives 
slaves, such as by kidnapping, by unjust accusa- 
tions and trials, and by other nefarious means. 
He states also the cruelties practised upon them 
by the white people, and the iniquitous ways and 
dealings of the latter, and answers their argument, 
by which they insinuated that the condition of the 
Africans was improved by their transportation to 
other countries. 

From this time the trade beginning to be better 
known, a multitude of persons of various stations 
and characters sprung up, who by exposing it are 
to be mentioned among the forerunners and coad- 
jutors in the cause. 

Pope, in his Essay on Man, where he endeavors 
to show that happiness in the present depends, 
among other things, upon the hope of a future 
state, takes an opportunity of exciting compassion 
in behalf of the poor African, while he censures 
the avarice and cruelty of his master : — 

" Lo, the poor Indian ! whose untutor'd mind 
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind ; 
His soul proud Science never taught to stray 
Far as the solar walk, or milky- way ; 
Yet simple Nature to his hope has giv'n 
Behind the cloud-topp'd hill an humbler heav'n ; 
Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd, 
Some happier island in the watery waste, 
Where slaves once more their native land behold, 
No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold." 

Thomson also, in his Seasons, marks this traffic 
as destructive and cruel, introducing the well- 


known fact of sharks following the vessels em- 
ployed in it : — 

" Increasing still the terrors of these storms, 
His jaws horrific arm'd with threefold fate, 
Here dwells the direful shark. Lur'd by the scent 
Of steaming crowds, of rank disease, and death ; 
Behold ! he rushing cuts the briny flood, 
Swift as the gale can bear the ship along; 
And, from the partners of that cruel trade, 
Which spoils unhappy Guinea of her sons, 
Demands his share of prey ; demands themselves. 
The stormy fates descend : one death involves 
Tyrants and slaves ; when straight, their mangled limbs 
Crashing at once, he dyes the purple seas 
With gore, and riots in the vengeful meal." 

Neither was Richard Savage forgetful in his 
poems of the injured Africans : he warns their 
oppressors of a day of retribution for their barba- 
rous conduct. Having personified Public Spirit, 
he makes her speak on the subject in the following 
manner : — 

" Let by my specious name no tyrants rise, 
And cry, while they enslave, they civilize ! 
Know, Liberty and I are still the same 
Congenial — ever mingling flame with flame! 
Why must I Afric's sable children see 
Vended for slaves, though born by Nature free, 
The nameless tortures cruel minds invent 
Those to subject whom Nature equal meant? 
If these you dare (although unjust success 
Empow'rs you now unpunish'd to oppress) 
Revolving empire you and yours may doom — 
(Rome all subdu'd — yet Vandals vanquish'd Rome) 
Yes — Empire may revolt — give them the day, 
And yoke may yoke, and blood may blood repay." 

Wallis, in his System of the Laws of Scotland, 


maintains, that " neither men nor governments 
have a right to sell those of their own species. 
Men and their liberty are neither purchaseable nor 
saleable." And after arguing the case, he says, 
" This is the law of Nature, which is obligatory 
on all men, at all times, and in all places. Would 
not any of us, who should be snatched by pirates 
from his native land, think himself cruelly abused, 
and at all times entitled to be free 1 Have not 
these unfortunate Africans, who meet with the 
same cruel fate, the same right 1 Are they not 
men as well as we 1 And have they not the same 
sensibility ] Let us not therefore defend or sup- 
port a usage, which is contrary to all the laws of 

In the year 1750 the Reverend Griffith Hughes, 
rector of St. Lucy, in Barbadoes, published his 
Natural History of that island. He took an op- 
portunity, in the course of it, of laying open to the 
world the miserable situation of the poor Africans, 
and the waste of them by hard labor and other 
cruel means, and he had the generosity to vindi- 
cate their capacities from the charge, which they 
who held them in bondage brought against them, 
as a justification of their own wickedness in con- 
tinuing to deprive them of the rights of men. 

Edmund Burke, in his account of the European 
settlements, (for this work is usually attributed to 
him,) complains " that the Negroes in our colonies 
endure a slavery more complete, and attended with 
far worse circumstances, than what any people in 
their condition suffer in any other part of the world, 


or have suffered in any other period of time. Proofs 
of this are not wanting. The prodigious waste, 
which we experience in this unhappy part of our 
species, is a full and melancholy evidence of this 
truth," And he goes on to advise the planters for 
the sake of their own interest to behave like good 
men, good masters, and good Christians ; and to 
impose less labor upon their slaves, and to give 
them recreation on some of the grand festivals, 
and to instruct them in religion, as certain pre- 
ventives of their decrease. 

An anonymous author of a pamphlet, entitled, 
An Essay in Vindication of the Continental Col- 
onies of America, seems to have come forward 
next. Speaking of slavery there, he says, " It is 
shocking to humanity, violative of every generous 
sentiment, abhorrent utterly from the Christian re* 
ligion ; there cannot be a more dangerous maxim 
than that necessity is a plea for injustice, for who 
shall fix the degree of this necessity ? What vil- 
lain so atrocious, who may not urge this excuse, 
or, as Milton has happily expressed it,-*- 

" and with necessity, 
The tyrant's plea, excuse his dev'lish deed ?" 

" That our colonies," he continues, " want peo- 
ple, is a very weak argument for so inhuman a 
violation of justice. Shall a civilized, a Christian 
nation, encourage slavery, because the barbarous, 
savage, lawless African hath done it 1 To what 
end do we profess a religion whose dictates we so 
flagrantly violate 1 Wherefore have we that pat* 

vol. i. 5 


tern of goodness and humanity, if we refuse to 
follow it 1 How long shall we continue a practice 
which policy rejects, justice condemns, and piety 
revolts at 3" 

The poet Shenstone, who comes next in order, 
seems to have written an Elegy on purpose to stig- 
matize this trade. Of this elegy I shall copy only 
the following parts : — 

" See the poor native quit the Lybian shores, 
Ah ! not in love's delightful fetters bound ! 
No radiant smile his dying peace restores, 
No love, nor fame, nor friendship heals his wound. 

" Let vacant bards display their boasted woes ; 
Shall I the mockery of grief display ? 
No ; let the muse his piercing pangs disclose, 
Who bleeds and weeps his sum of life away ! 

" On the wild heath in mournful guise he stood 
Ere the shrill boatswain gave the hated sign ; 
He dropp'd a tear unseen into the flood, 
He stole one secret moment to repine. — 

" Why am I ravish'd from my native strand ? 
What savage race protects this impious gain ? 
Shall foreign plagues infest this teeming land, 
And more than sea-born monsters plough the main ? 

"Here the dire locusts' horrid swarms prevail ; 
Here the blue asps with livid poison swell ; 
Here the dry dipsa writhes his sinuous mail ; 
Can we not here secure from envy dwell ? 

" When the grim Hon urg'd his cruel chase, 
When the stern panther sought his midnight prey, 
What fate reserved me for this Christian race ? 
A race more polish'd, more severe, than they. — 


" Yet shores there are, bless'd shores for us remain, 
And favor'd isles, with golden fruitage crown'd, 
Where tufted flow'rets print the verdant plain, 
And ev'ry breeze shall med'cine ev'ry wound." 

In the year 1755, Dr. Hayter, bishop of Nor- 
wich, preached a sermon before the Society for the 
Propagation of the Gospel, in which he bore his 
testimony against the continuance of this trade. 

Dyer, in his poem called The Fleece, expresses 
his sorrow on account of this barbarous trade, and 
looks forward to a day of retributive justice on ac- 
count of the introduction of such an evil. 

In the year 1760, a pamphlet appeared, entitled, 
" Two Dialogues on the Man-trade, by John Phil- 
more." This name is supposed to be an assumed 
one. The author, however, discovers himself to 
have been both an able and a zealous advocate in 
favor of the African race. 

Malachi Postlethwaite, in his Universal Diction- 
ary of Trade and Commerce, proposes a number 
of queries on the subject of the Slave-trade. I 
have not room to insert them at full length. But 
I shall give the following as the substance of some 
of them to the reader : " Whether this commerce 
be not the cause of incessant wars among the Afri- 
cans ; whether the Africans, if it were abolished, 
might not become as ingenious, as humane, as in- 
dustrious, and as capable of arts, manufactures, and 
trades, as even the bulk of Europeans ; whether, 
if it were abolished, a much more profitable trade 
might not be substituted, and this to the very cen- 
tre of their extended country, instead of the trifling 


portion which now subsists upon their coasts ; and 
whether the great hindrance to such a new and 
advantageous commerce has not wholly proceeded 
from that unjust, inhuman, unchristian-like traffic, 
called the Slave-trade, which is carried on by the 
Europeans.''" The public proposal of these and 
other queries by a man of so great commercial 
knowledge as Postlethwaite, and by one who was 
himself a member of the African Committee, was 
of great service in exposing the impolicy as well as 
immorality of the Slave-trade. 

In the year 1761, Thomas Jeffery published an 
account of a part of North America, in which he 
lays open the miserable state of the slaves in the 
West Indies, both as to their clothing, their food, 
their labor, and their punishments. But, without 
going into particulars, the general account he gives 
of them is affecting : £i It is impossible,*' he says, 
'•'for a human heart to reflect upon the slavery of 
these dregs of mankind, without in some measure 
feeling" for their rniserv. which ends but with their 
lives ; nothing can be more wretched than the 
condition of this people." 

Sterne, in his account of the Negro Girl, in his 
Life of Tristram Shandy, took decidedly the part 
of the oppressed Africans. The pathetic, witty, 
and sentimental manner, in which he handled this 
subject, occasioned many to remember it, and pro- 
cured a certain poition of feeling in their favor. 

Rousseau contributed not a little in his day to 
the same end. 

Bishop Warburton preached a sermon in the 


year 1766, before the Society for the Propagation 
of the Gospel, in which he took up the cause of the 
miserable Africans, and in which he severely rep- 
robated their oppressors. The language in this 
sermon is so striking, that I shall make an extract 
from it. " From the free savages," says he, " I 
now come to the savages in bonds. By these I 
mean the vast multitudes yearly stolen from the 
opposite continent, and sacrificed by the colonists 
to their great idol the god of gain. But what then, 
say these sincere worshippers of mammon 1 They 
are our own property which we offer up. Gracious 
God ! to talk, as of herds of cattle, of property in 
rational creatures, creatures endued with all our 
faculties, possessing all our qualities but that of 
color, our brethren both by nature and grace, 
shocks all the feelings of humanity, and the dic- 
tates of common sense ! But, alas ! what is there, 
in the infinite abuses of society, which does not 
shock them 1 Yet nothing is more certain in itself 
and apparent to all, than that the infamous traffic 
for slaves directly infringes both divine and human 
law. Nature created man free, and grace invites 
him to assert his freedom. 

" In excuse of this violation it hath been pre- 
tended, that though indeed these miserable out- 
casts of humanity be torn from their homes and 
native country by fraud and violence, yet they 
thereby become the happier, and their condition 
the more eligible. But who are you, who pretend 
to judge of another man's happiness ; that state, 
which each man under the guidance of his Maker 

VOL. I. 5* 


forms for himself, and not one man for another ? 
To know what constitutes mine or your happiness 
is the sole prerogative of him who created us, and 
cast us in so various and different moulds. Did 
your slaves ever complain to you of their unhappi- 
ness amidst their native woods and deserts 1 or 
rather let me ask, did they ever cease complaining 
of their condition under you their lordly masters, 
where they see indeed the accommodations of civil 
life, but see them all pass to others, themselves 
unbenefited by them 1 Be so gracious then, ye 
petty tyrants over human freedom, to let your 
slaves judge for themselves, what it is which makes 
their own happiness, and then see whether they 
do not place it in the return to their own country, 
rather than in the contemplation of your grandeur, 
of which their misery makes so large a part ; a 
return so passionately longed for, that, despairing 
of happiness here, that is, of escaping the chains 
of their cruel task-masters, they console themselves 
with feigning it. to be the gracious reward of heaven 
in their future state." 

About this time certain cruel and wicked prac- 
tices, which must now be mentioned, had arrived 
at such a height, and had become so frequent in 
the metropolis, as to produce of themselves other 
coadjutors to the cause. 

Before the year 1700, planters, merchants, and 
others, resident in the West Indies, but coming to 
England, were accustomed to bring with them cer- 
tain slaves to act as servants with them during 
their stay. The latter, seeing the freedom and the 


happiness of servants in this country, and consider- 
ing what would be their own hard fate on their re- 
turn to the islands, frequently absconded. Their 
masters of course made search after them, and 
often had them seized and carried away by force. 
It was, however, thrown out by many on these oc- 
casions, that the English laws did not sanction 
such proceedings, for that all persons who were 
baptized became free. The consequence of this 
was, that most of the slaves, who came over with 
their masters, prevailed upon some pious clergyman 
to baptize them. They took of course godfathers 
of such citizens as had the generosity to espouse 
their cause. When they were seized they usually 
sent to these, if they had an opportunity, for their 
protection. And in the result, their godfathers, 
maintaining that they had been baptized, and that 
they were free on this account as well as by the 
general tenor of the laws of England, dared those, 
who had taken possession of them, to send them 
out of the kingdom. 

The planters, merchants, and others, being thus 
circumstanced, knew not what to do. They were 
afraid of taking their slaves away by force, and 
they were equally afraid of bringing any of the 
cases before a public court. In this dilemma, in 
1729 they applied to York and Talbot, the attorney 
and solicitor-general for the time being, and ob- 
tained the following strange opinion from them : 
" We are of opinion, that a slave by coming from 
the West Indies into Great Britain or Ireland, either 
with or without his master, does not become free, 


and that his master's right and property in him is 
not thereby determined or varied, and that bap- 
tism doth not bestow freedom on him, nor make 
any alteration in his temporal condition in these 
kingdoms. We are also of opinion, that the mas- 
ter may legally compel him to return again to the 

This cruel and illegal opinion was delivered in 
the year 1729. The planters, merchants, and 
others, gave it of course all the publicity in their 
power. And the consequences were as might easily 
have been apprehended. In a little time slaves 
absconding were advertised in the London papers 
as runaways, and rewards offered for the appre- 
hension of them, in the same brutal manner as we 
find them advertised in the land of slavery. They' 
were advertised also, in the same papers, to be sold 
by auction, sometimes by themselves, and at others 
with horses, chaises, and harness. They were 
seized also by their masters, or by persons employed 
by them, in the very streets, and dragged from 
thence to the ships ; and so unprotected now were 
these poor slaves, that persons in nowise concerned 
with them began to institute a trade in their per- 
sons, making agreements with captains of ships 
going to the West Indies to put them on board at 
a certain price. This last instance shows how far 
human nature is capable of going, and is an an- 
swer to those persons, who have denied that kid- 
napping in Africa was a source of supplying the 
Slave-trade. It shows as all history does from the 
time of Joseph, that, where there is a market for 


the persons of human beings, all kinds of enormities 
will be practised to obtain them. 

These circumstances then, as I observed before, 
did not fail of producing new coadjutors in the 
cause. And first they produced that able and in- 
defatigable advocate Mr. Granville Sharp. This 
gentleman is to be distinguished from those who 
preceded him by this particular, that, whereas 
these were only writers, he was both a writer and 
an actor in the cause. In fact, he was the first 
laborer in it in England. By the words " actor" 
and " laborer," I mean that he determined upon a 
plan of action in behalf of the oppressed Africans, 
to the accomplishment of which he devoted a con- 
siderable portion of his time, talents, and substance. 
What Mr. Sharp has done to merit the title of co- 
adjutor in this high sense, I shall now explain. 
The following is a short history of the beginning 
and of the course of his labors. 

In the year 1765, Mr. David Lisle had brought 
over from Barbadoes Jonathan Strong, an African 
slave, as his servant. He used the latter in a bar- 
barous manner at his lodgings in Wapping, but 
particularly by beating him over the head with a 
pistol, which occasioned his head to swell. When 
the swelling went down, a disorder fell into his 
eyes, which threatened the loss of them. To this 
an ague and fever succeeded, and a lameness in 
both his legs. 

Jonathan Strong, having been brought into this 
deplorable situation, and being therefore wholly 
useless, was left by his master to go whither he 


pleased. He applied accordingly to Mr. William 
Sharp, the surgeon, for his advice, as to one who 
gave up a portion of his time to the healing of the 
diseases of the poor. It was here that Mr. Gran- 
ville Sharp, the brother of the former, saw him. 
Suffice it to say, that in process of time he was 
cured. During this time Mr. Granville Sharp, 
pitying his hard case, supplied him with money, and 
he afterwards got him a situation in the family of 
Mr. Brown, an apothecary, to carry out medicines. 

In this new situation, when Strong had become 
healthy and robust in his appearance, his master 
happened to see him. The latter immediately 
formed the design of possessing him again. Ac- 
cordingly, when he had found out his residence, 
he procured John Ross, keeper of the Poultry- 
compter, and William Miller, an officer under the 
lord mayor, to kidnap him. This was done by 
sending for him to a public house in Fenchurch 
street, and then seizing him. By these he was 
conveyed, without any warrant, to the Poultry- 
compter, where he was sold by his master, to John 
Kerr, for thirty pounds. 

Strong, in this situation, sent, as was usual, to 
his godfathers, John London and Stephen Nail, for 
their protection. They went, but were refused 
admittance to him. At length he sent for Mr. 
Granville Sharp. The latter went, but they still 
refused access to the prisoner. He insisted, how- 
ever, upon seeing him, and charged the keeper of 
the prison at his peril to deliver him up till he had 
been carried before a magistrate. 


Mr. Sharp, immediately upon this, waited upon 
Sir Robert Kite, the then lord mayor, and entreated 
him to send for Strong, and to hear his case. A 
day was accordingly appointed. Mr. Sharp at- 
tended, and also William M'Bean, a notary publics 
and David Laird, captain of the ship Thames, 
which was to have conveyed Strong to Jamaica, 
in behalf of the purchaser, John Kerr. A long 
conversation ensued, in which the opinion of York 
and Talbot was quoted. Mr. Sharp made his 
observations. Certain lawyers, who were present, 
seemed to be staggered at the case, but inclined 
rather to recommit the prisoner. The lord mayor, 
however, discharged Strong, as he had been taken 
up without a warrant. 

As soon as this determination was made known, 
the parties began to move off. Captain Laird, how- 
ever, who kept close to Strong, laid hold of him 
before he had quitted the room, and said aloud, 
"Then I now seize him as my slave." Upon this, 
Mr. Sharp put his hand upon Laird's shoulder, and 
pronounced these words : " I charge you in the 
name of the king, with an assult upon the person of 
Jonathan Strong, and all these are my witnesses." 
Laird was greatly intimidated by this charge, made 
in the presence of the lord mayor and others, and 
fearing a prosecution, let his prisoner go, leaving 
him to be conveyed away by Mr. Sharp. 

Mr. Sharp, having been greatly affected by this 
case, and foreseeing how much he might be engaged 
in others of a similar nature, thought it time that 
the law of the land should be known upon this 


subject. He applied therefore to Doctor Blackstone, 
afterwards Judge Blackstone, for his opinion upon 
it. He was, however, not satisfied with it when he 
received it ; nor could he obtain any satisfactory 
answer from several other lawyers, to whom he 
afterwards applied. The truth is, that the opinion 
of York and Talbot, which had been made public 
and acted upon by the planters, merchants, and 
others, was considered of high authority, and 
scarcely any one dared to question the legality of 
it. In this situation, Mr. Sharp saw no means of 
help but in his own industry, and he determined 
immediately to give up two or three years to the 
study of the English law, that he might the better 
advocate the cause of these miserable people. The 
result of these studies was the publication of a book 
in the year 1769, which he called "A Representa- 
tion of the Injustice and dangerous Tendency of 
Tolerating Slavery in England." In this work he 
refuted, in the clearest manner, the opinion of York 
and Talbot. He produced against it the opinion 
of the Lord Chief Justice Holt, who many years 
before had determined, that every slave coming into 
England became free. He attacked and refuted it 
again by a learned and laborious inquiry into all the 
principles of Villanage. He refuted it again, by 
showing it to be an axiom in the British constitution, 
" That every man in England was free to sue for 
and defend his rights, and that force could not be 
used without a legal process," leaving it to the 
judges to determine, whether an African was a man. 
He attacked, also, the opinion of Judge Blackstone, 


and showed where his error lay. This valuable 
book, containing these and other kinds of arguments 
on the subject, he distributed, but particularly 
among the lawyers, giving them an opportunity 
of refuting or acknowledging the doctrines it 

While Mr. Sharp was engaged in this work, 
another case offered, in which he took a part. 
This was in the year 1768. Hylas, an African 
slave, prosecuted a person of the name of Newton 
for having kidnapped his wife, and sent her to the 
West Indies. The result of the trial was, that dam- 
ages to the amount of a shilling were given, and the 
defendant was bound to bring back the woman, 
either by the first ship, or in six months from this 
decision of the court. 

But soon after the work just mentioned was out 
and when Mr. Sharp was better prepared, a third 
case occurred. This happened in the year 1770. 
Robert Stapylton, who lived at Chelsea, in conjunc- 
tion with John Malony and Edward Armstrong 
two waterman, seized the person of Thomas Lewis, 
an African slave, in a dark night, and dragged 
him to a boat lying in the Thames ; they then 
gagged him, and tied him with a cord, and rowed 
him down to a ship, and put him on board to be sold 
as a slave in Jamaica. This base action took place 
near the garden of Mrs. Banks, the mother of the 
present Sir Joseph Banks. Lewis, it appears, on 
being seized, screamed violently. The servants of 
Mrs. Banks, who heard his cries, ran to his assis- 
tance but the boat was gone. On informing their 

VOL. I. 6 


mistress of what had happened, she sent for Mr. 
Sharp, who began now to be known as the friend of 
the helpless Africans, and professed her willingness 
to incur the expense of bringing the delinquents to 
justice. Mr. Sharp, with some difficulty, procured 
a habeas corpus, in consequence of which Lewis 
was brought from Gravesend just as the vessel was 
on the point of sailing. An action was then com- 
menced against Stapylton, who defended himself, 
on the plea, " That Lewis belonged to him as his 
slave." In the course of the trial, Mr. Dunning, 
who was counsel for Lewis, paid Mr. Sharp a hand- 
some compliment, for he held in his hand Mr. 
Sharp's book on the injustice and dangerous ten- 
dency of tolerating slavery in England, while he was 
pleading; and in his address to the jury he spoke 
and acted thus : " I shall submit to you," says Mr. 
Dunning, " What my ideas are upon such evidence, 
reserving to myself an opportunity of discussing it 
more particularly, and reserving to myself a right 
to insist upon a position, which I will maintain (and 
here he held up the book to the notice of those pres- 
ent) in any place and in any court of the kingdom, 
that our laws admit of no such property."* The 
result of the trial was, that the jury pronounced the 
plaintiff not to have been the property of the defen- 
dant, several of them crying out, "No property, no 

After this, one or two other trials came on, in 

* It is lamentable to think, that the same Mr. Duninng, in a 
cause of this kind, which came on afterwards, took the opposite 
side of the question. 


which the oppressor was defeated, and several cases 
occurred, in which poor slaves were liberated from 
the holds of vessels, and other places of confine- 
ment, by the exertions of Mr. Sharp. One of these 
cases was singular. The vessel on board which a 
poor African had been dragged and confined had 
reached the ■ Downs, and had actually got under 
weigh for the West Indies. In two or three hours 
she would have been out of sight ; but just at this 
critical moment the writ of habeas corpus was car- 
ried on board. The officer, who served it on the 
captain, saw the miserable African chained to the 
mainmast, bathed in tears, and casting a last 
mournful look on the land of freedom, which was 
fast receding from his sight. The captain, on re- 
ceiving the writ, became outrageous ; but, knowing 
the serious consequences of resisting the law of the 
land, he gave up his prisoner, whom the officer 
carried safe, but now crying for joy, to the shore. 
But though the injured Africans, whose causes 
had been tried, escaped slavery, and though many, 
who had been forcibly carried into dungeons, 
ready to be transported into the Colonies, had been 
delivered out of them, Mr. Sharp was not easy in 
his mind. Not one of the cases had yet been 
pleaded on the broad ground, "Whether an African 
slave coming into England became free V This 
great question had been hitherto studiously avoided. 
It was still, therefore, left in doubt. Mr. Sharp 
was almost daily acting as if it had been deter- 
mined, and as if he had been following the known 
law of the land. He wished therefore that the 


next cause might be argued upon this principle. 
Lord Mansfield, too, who had been biased by the 
opinion of York and Talbot, began to waver in 
consequence of the different pleadings he had 
heard on this subject. He saw also no end of 
trials like these, till the law should be ascertained, 
and he was anxious for a decision on the same 
basis as Mr. Sharp. In this situation the follow- 
ing case offered, which was agreed upon for the 
determination of this important question. 

James Somerset, an African slave, had been 
brought to England by his master, Charles Stew- 
art, in November, 1769. Somerset, in process of 
time, left him. Stewart, took an opportunity of 
seizing him, and had him conveyed on board the 
Ann and Mary, Captain Knowles, to be carried 
out of the kingdom, and sold as a slave in Jamaica. 
The question was, " Whether a slave, by coming 
into England, became free I" 

In order that time might be given for ascertain- 
ing the law fully on this head, the case was argued 
at three different sittings. First, in January, 1772 ; 
secondly, in February, 1772 ; and thirdly, in May, 
1772. And that no decision otherwise than what 
the law warranted might be given, the opinion of 
the Judges was taken upon the pleadings. The 
great and glorious result of the trial was, that as 
soon as ever any slave set his foot upon English 
territory, he became free. 

Thus ended the great case of Somerset, which, 
having been determined after so deliberate an in- 
vestigation of the law, can never be reversed while 


the British constitution remains. The eloquence 
displayed in it by those who were engaged on the 
side of liberty, was perhaps never exceeded on any 
occasion ; and the names of the counsellors Davy, 
Glynn, Hargrave, Mansfield, and Alleyne, ought 
always to be remembered with gratitude by the 
friends of this great cause. For when we consider 
in how many crowded courts they pleaded, and 
the number of individuals in these, whose minds 
they enlightened, and whose hearts they interested 
in the subject, they are certainly to be put down 
as no small instruments in the promotion of it : 
but chiefly to him, under Divine Providence, are 
we to give the praise, who became the first great 
actor in it, who devoted his time, his talents, and 
his substance to this Christian undertaking, and 
by whose laborious researches the very pleaders 
themselves were instructed and benefited. By 
means of his almost incessant vigilance and atten- 
tion, and unwearied efforts, the poor African 
ceased to be hunted in our streets as a beast of 
prey. Miserable as the roof might be, under which 
he slept, he slept in security. He walked by the 
side of the stately ship, and he feared no dungeon 
in her hold. Nor ought we, as Englishmen, to be 
less grateful to this distinguished individual than 
the African ought to be upon this occasion. To 
him we owe it, that we no longer see our public 
papers polluted by hateful advertisements of the 
sale of the human species, or that we are no longer 
distressed by the perusal of impious rewards for 
bringing back the poor and the helpless into sla- 
vol. i. 6 * 


very, or that we are prohibited the disgusting- 
spectacle of seeing man bought by his fellow-man. 
To him, in short, we owe this restoration of the 
beauty of our constitution ; this prevention of the 
continuance of our national disgrace. 

I shall say but little more of Mr. Sharp at pres- 
ent, than that he felt it his duty, immediately after 
the trial, to write to Lord North, then principal 
minister of state, warning him in the most earnest 
manner, to abolish immediately both the trade and 
the slavery of the human species in all the British 
dominions, as utterly irreconcilable with the prin- 
ciples of the British constitution, and the estab- 
lished religion of the land. 

Among other coadjutors, whom the cruel and 
wicked practices which have now been so amply 
detailed brought forward, was a worthy clergy- 
man, whose name I have not yet been able to 
learn. He endeavored to interest the public feel- 
ing in behalf of the injured Africans, by writing 
an epilogue to the Padlock, in which Mungo ap- 
peared as a black servant. This epilogue is so 
appropriate to the case, that I cannot but give it 
to the reader. Mungo enters, and thus addresses 
the audience : — 

" Thank you, my Massas ! have you laugh your fill ? 
Then let me speak, nor take that freedom ill. 
E'en from my tongue some heart-felt truths may fall, 
And outrag'd Nature claims the care of all. 
My tale in any place would force a tear, 
But calls for stronger, deeper feelings here ; 
For whilst I tread the free-born British land, 
Whilst now before me crowded Britons stand, 


Vain, vain that glorious privilege to me, 
I am a slave, where all things else are free. 

"Yet was I born, as you are, no man's slave, 
An heir to all that lib'ral Nature gave ; 
My mind can reason, and my limbs can move 
The same as yours ; like yours my heart can love ; 
Alike my body food and sleep sustain ; 
And e'en like yours — feels pleasure, want, and pain. 
One sun rolls o'er us, common skies surround ; 
One globe supports us, and one grave must bound. 

" Why then am I devoid of all to live 
That manly comforts to a man can give ? 
To live — untaught religion's soothing balm, 
Or life's choice arts ; to live — unknown the calm 
Of soft domestic ease ; those sweets of life, 
The duteous offspring, and th' endearing wife ? 
To live — to property and rights unknown, 
Not e'en the common benefits my own ! 
No arm to guard me from Oppression's rod, 
My will subservient to a tyrant's nod ! 
No gentle hand, when life is in decay, 
To sooth my pains, and charm my cares away; 
But helpless left to quit the horrid stage, 
Harass'd in youth ; and desolate in age ! 

"But I was born in Afric's tawny strand, 
And you in fair Britannia's fairer land. 
Comes freedom, then, from color? — Blush with shame! 
And let strong Nature's crimson mark your blame. 
I speak to Britons. — Britons, then, behold 
A man by Briton's snared, and seized, and sold ! 
And yet no British statute damns the deed, 
Nor do the more than murd'rous villains bleed. 

" O sons of freedom ! equalize your laws, 

Be all consistent, plead the Negro's cause ; 

That all the nations in your code may see 

The British Negro, like the Briton, free. 
. But, should he supplicate your laws in vain, 

To break, for ever, this disgraceful chain, 


At least, let gentle usage so abate 

The galling terrors of its passing state, 

That he may share kind Heav'n's all social plan ; 

For though no Briton, Mungo is — a man." 

I may now add, that few theatrical pieces had a 
greater run than the Padlock ; and that this epi- 
logue, which was attached to it soon after it came 
out, procured a good deal of feeling for the unfortu- 
nate sufferers, whose cause it was intended to serve. 

Another coadjutor* to whom these cruel and 
wicked practises gave birth, was Thomas Day, 
the celebrated author of Sandford and Merton, and 
whose virtues were well known among those who 
had the happiness of his friendship. In the year 
1773 he published a poem, which he wrote ex- 
pressly in behalf of the oppressed Africans. He 
gave it the name of The Dying Negro. The pref- 
ace to it was written in an able manner by his 
friend, counsellor Bicknell, who is therefore to be 
ranked among the coadjutors in this great cause. 

The poem was founded on a simple fact, which 
had taken place a year or two before. A poor 
Negro had been seized in London, and forcibly 
put on board a ship, where he destroyed himself, 
rather than return to the land of slavery. To the 
poem is affixed a frontispiece, in which the Negro 
is represented. He is made to stand in an atti- 
tude of the most earnest address to Heaven, in the 
course of which, with the fatal dagger in his hand, 
he breaks forth in the following words : — ■ 

" To you this unpolluted blood I pour, 
To you that spirit, which ye gave, restore." 


This poem, which was the first ever written ex- 
pressly on the subject, was read extensively ; and 
it added to the sympathy in favor of suffering hu- 
manity, which was now beginning to show itself 
in the kingdom. 

About this time the first edition of the Essay 
on Truth made its appearance in the world. Dr. 
Beattie took an opportunity, in this work, of vin- 
dicating the intellectual powers of the Africans 
from the aspersions of Hume, and Of condemning 
their slavery as a barbarous piece of policy, and 
as inconsistent with the free and generous spirit 
of the British nation. 

In the year 1774, John Wesley, the celebrated 
divine, to whose pious labors the religious world 
will be long indebted, undertook the cause of the 
poor Africans. He had been in America, and had 
seen and pitied their hard condition. The work 
which lie gave to the world in consequence, was 
entitled Thoughts on Slavery. Mr. Wesley had 
this great cause much at heart, and frequently 
recommended it to the support of those who at- 
tended his useful ministry. 

In the year 1776, the abbe Proyart brought out, 
at Paris, his History of Loango, and other king- 
doms in Africa, in which he did ample justice to 
the moral and intellectual character of the natives 

The same year produced two new friends in 
England, in the same cause, but in a line in which 
no one had yet moved. David Hartley, then a 
member of Parliament for Hull, and the son of 


Dr. Hartley, who wrote the Essay on Man, found 
it impossible any longer to pass over without no- 
tice the case of the oppressed Africans. He had 
long felt for their wretched condition, and, avail- 
ing himself of his legislative situation, he made a 
motion in the House of Commons^ " That the 
Slave-trade was contrary to the laws of God, and 
the rights of men." In order that he might in- 
terest the members as much as possible in his mo- 
tion, he had previously obtained some of the chains 
in use in this cruel traffic, and had laid them upon 
the table of the House of Commons. His motion 
was seconded by that great patriot and philan- 
thropist, Sir George Saville. But though I am 
now to state that it failed, I cannot but consider 
it as a matter of pleasing reflection, that this great 
subject was first introduced into Parliament by 
those who were worthy of it ; by those who had 
clean hands and irreproachable characters, and to 
whom no motive of party or faction could be im- 
puted, but only such as must have arisen from a 
love of justice, a true feeling of humanity, and 
a proper sense of religion. 

About this time two others, men of great talents 
and learning, promoted the cause of the injured 
Africans, by the manner in which they introduced 
them to notice in their respective works. 

Dr. Adam Smith, in his Theory of Moral Sen- 
timents, had, so early as the year 1759, held them 
up in an honorable, and their tyrants in a degrad- 
ing, light. " There is not a Negro from the coast 
of Africa, who does not, in this respect, possess a 


degree of magnanimity, which the soul of his sor- 
did master is too often scarce capable of conceiv- 
ing. Fortune never exerted more cruelly her em- 
pire over mankind, than when she subjected those 
nations of heroes to the refuse of the jails of 
Europe, to wretches who possess the virtue nei- 
ther of the countries they came from, nor of those 
they go to, and whose levity, brutality, and base- 
ness, so justly expose them to the contempt of the 
vanquished." And now, in 1776, in his Wealth 
of Nations, he showed in a forcible manner (for 
he appealed to the interest of those concerned) the 
dearness of African labor, or the impolicy of em- 
ploying slaves. 

Professor Millar, in his Origin of Ranks, fol- 
lowed Dr. Smith on the same ground. He ex- 
plained the impolicy of slavery in general, by its 
bad effects upon industry, population, and morals. 
These effects he attached to the system of agricul- 
ture as followed in our islands. He showed, be- 
sides, how little pains were taken, or how few 
contrivances were thought of, to ease the laborers 
there. He contended that the Africans ought to 
be better treated, and to be raised to a better con- 
dition ; and he ridiculed the inconsistency of those 
who held them in bondage. " It affords," says 
he, " a curious spectacle to observe that the same 
people, who talk in a high strain of political liberty, 
and who consider the privilege of imposing their 
own taxes as one of the inalienable rights of 
mankind, should make no scruple of reducing a 
great proportion of their fellow-creatures into cir- 


cumstances, by which they are not only deprived 
of property, but almost of every species of right. 
Fortune perhaps never produced a situation more 
calculated to ridicule a liberal hypothesis, or to 
show how little the conduct of men is at the bot- 
tom directed by any philosophical principles." It 
is a great honor to the university of Glasgow, that 
it should have produced, before any public agita- 
tion of this question, three Professors,* all of whom 
bore their public testimony against the continu- 
ance of the cruel trade. 

From this time, or from about the year 1776, to 
about the year 1 782, I am to put down three other 
coadjutors, whose labors seem to have come in a 
right season for the promotion of the cause. 

The first of these was Dr. Robertson. In his 
History of America, he laid open many facts rela- 
tive to this subject. He showed himself a w^arm 
friend both of the Indians and Africans. He lost 
no opportunity of condemning that trade which 
brought the latter into bondage : " a trade," says 
he, " which is no less repugnant to the feelings of 
humanity than to the principles of religion." And 
in his Charles the Fifth, he showed in a manner 
that was clear and never to be controverted, that 
Christianity was the great cause in the twelfth 
century of extirpating slavery from the West of 
Europe. By the establishment of this fact he 
rendered important services to the oppressed Afri- 
cans. For if Christianity, when it began to be 
felt in the heart, dictated the abolition of slavery, 
* The other was Professor Hucheson, before mentioned in p. 44. 


it certainly became those who lived in a Christian 
coimtry, and who professed the Christian religion, 
to put an end to this cruel trade. 

The second was the abb6 Raynal. This author 
gave an account of the laws, government, and re- 
ligion of Africa, of the produce of it, of the man- 
ners of its inhabitants, of the trade in slaves, of 
the manner of procuring these, with several other 
particulars relating to the subject. And at the 
end of his account, fearing lest the good advice 
he had given for making the condition of the 
slaves more comfortable should be construed into 
an approbation of such a traffic, he employed 
several pages in showing its utter inconsistency 
with sound policy, justice, reason, humanity, and 

" I will not here," says he, " so far debase my- 
self as to enlarge the ignominious list of those 
writers, who devote their abilities to justify by 
policy what morality condemns. In an age where 
so many errors are boldly laid open, it would be 
unpardonable to conceal any truth that is interest- 
ing to humanity. If whatever I have hitherto 
advanced hath seemingly tended only to alleviate 
the burden of slavery, the reason is, that it was 
first necessary to give some comfort to those un- 
happy beings, whom we cannot set free, and con- 
vince their oppressors, that they were cruel, to the 
prejudice of their real interests. But, in the mean 
time, till some considerable revolution shall make 
the evidence of this great truth felt, it may not be 
improper to pursue this subject further. I shall 

vol. i. 7 


then first prove" that there is no reason of state, 
which can authorize slavery. I shall not be afraid 
to cite to the tribunal of reason and justice those 
governments, which tolerate this cruelty, or which 
even are not ashamed to make it the basis of their 

And a little further on he observes : " Will it be 
said that he, who wants to make me a slave, does 
me no injury, but that he only makes use of his 
rights ? Where are those rights 1 Who hath 
stamped upon them so sacred a character as to 
silence mine V 9 

In the beginning of the next paragraph he 
speaks thus : " He, who supports the system of 
slavery is the enemy of the whole human race. 
He divides it into two societies of legal assassins ; 
the oppressors, and the oppressed. It is the same 
thing as proclaiming to the world, if you would 
preserve your life, instantly take- away mine, for I 
want to have yours." 

Going on two pages further, we find these 
words : " But the Negroes, they say, are a race 
born for slavery ; their dispositions are narrow, 
treacherous, and wicked ; they themselves allow 
the superiority of our understandings, and almost 
acknowledge the justice of our authority. Yes ; 
the minds of the Negroes are contracted, because 
slavery destroys all the springs of the soul. They 
are wicked, but not equally so with you. They 
are treacherous, because they are under no obli- 
gation to speak truth to their tyrants. They ac- 
knowledge the superiority of our understandings 


because we have abused their ignorance. They 
allow the justice of our authority, because we 
have abused their weakness. 

" But these Negroes, it is further urged, were 
born slaves. Barbarians ! will you persuade me, 
that a man can be the property of a sovereign, a 
son^'we property of a father, a wife the property 
of a husband, a domestic the property of a master, 
a Negro the property of a planter V 9 

But I have no time to follow this animated au- 
thor, even by short extracts, through the varied 
strains of eloquence which he displays upon this 
occasion. I can only say, that his labors entitle 
him to a high station among the benefactors to the 
African race. 

The third was Dr. Paley, whose genius, talents, 
and learning have been so eminently displayed in 
his writings in the cause of natural and revealed 
religion. Dr. Paley did not write any essay ex- 
pressly in favor of the Africans. But in his Moral 
Philosophy, where he treated on slavery, he took 
an opportunity of condemning, in very severe 
terms, the continuance of it. In this work he de- 
fined what slavery was, and how it might arise 
consistently with the law of nature ; but he made 
an exception against that which arose from the 
African trade. 

" The Slave-trade," says he, " upon the coast of 
Africa, is not excused by these principles. When 
slaves in that country are brought to market, no 
questions, I believe are asked about the origin or 
justice of the venders title. It may be presumed. 


therefore, that this title is not always, if it be ever, 
founded in any of the causes above assigned. 

" But defect of right in the first purchase is the 
least crime with which this traffic is chargeable. 
The natives are excited to war and mutual depre- 
dation, for the sake of supplying their contracts, 
or furnishing the markets with slaves. Witt ' this 
the wickedness begins. The slaves, torn away 
from their parents, wives and children, from their 
friends and companions, from their fields and 
flocks from their home and country, are trans- 
ported to the European settlements in America, 
with no other accommodation on shipboard than 
what is provided for brutes. This is the second 
stage of the cruelty, from which the miserable ex- 
iles- are delivered only to be placed, and that for 
life, in subjection to a dominion and system of 
laws, the most merciless and tyrannical that ever 
were tolerated upon the face of the earth : and 
from all that can be learned by the accounts of 
people upon the spot, the inordinate authority, 
which the Plantation laws confer upon the slave- 
holder, is exercised by the English slaveholder, 
especially, with rigor and brutality. 

" But necessity is pretended, the name under 
which every enormity is attempted to be justified ; 
and after all, what is the necessity ? It has never 
been proved that the land could not be cultivated 
there, as it is here, by hired servants. It is said 
that it could not be cultivated with quite the same 
conveniency and cheapness, as by the labor of 
slaves ; by which means, a pound of sugar, which, 


the planter now sells for sixpence, could not be 
afforded under sixpence-halfpenny ; and this is the 
necessity ! 

" The great revolution, which has taken place 
in the western world, may probably conduce (and 
who knows but that it was designed) to acceler- 
ate the fall of this abominable tyranny : and now 
that this contest and the passions which attend it 
are no more, there may succeed perhaps a season 
for reflecting, whether a legislature, which had so 
long lent assistance to the support of an institution 
replete with human misery, was fit to be trusted 
with an empire, the most extensive that ever ob- 
tained in any age or quarter of the world." 

The publication of these sentiments may be sup- 
posed to have produced an extensive effect. For 
the Moral Philosophy was adopted early by some 
of the colleges in our universities into the system 
of their education. It soon found its way also 
into most of the private libraries of the kingdom ; 
and it was, besides, generally read and approved. 
Dr. Paley, therefore, must be considered as hav- 
ing been a considerable coadjutor in interesting 
the mind of the public in favor of the oppressed 

In the year 1783, we find Mr. Sharp coming 
again into notice. We find him at this time taking 
a part in a cause, the knowledge of which, in pro- 
portion as it was disseminated, produced an earn- 
est desire among all disinterested persons, for the 
abolition of the Slave-trade. 

In this year, certain underwriters desired to be 

vol. I. 7* 


heard against Gregson and others of Liverpool, in 
the case of the ship Zong, Captain Collingwood, 
alleging that the captain and officers of the said 
vessel threw overboard one hundred and thirty-two 
slaves alive into the sea, in order to defraud them, 
by claiming the value of the said slaves, as if they 
had been lost in a natural way. In the course of 
the trial, which afterwards came on, it appeared, 
that the slaves on board the Zong were very sick- 
ly ; that sixty of them had already died ; and 
several were ill and likely to die ; when the cap- 
tain proposed to James Kelsall, the mate, and 
others, to throw several of them overboard, stat- 
ing " that if they died a natural death, the loss 
would fall upon the owners of the ship, but that, 
if they were thrown into the sea, it would fall 
upon the underwriters." He selected accordingly 
one hundred and thirty-two of the most sickly 
of the slaves. Fifty-four of these were immedi- 
ately thrown overboard, and forty-two were made 
to be partakers of their fate on the succeeding day. 
In the course of three days afterwards the remain- 
ing twenty-six were brought upon deck to com- 
plete the number of victims. The first sixteen 
submitted to be thrown into the sea ; but the rest 
with a noble resolution would not suffer the offi- 
cers to touch them, but leaped after their com- 
panions and shared their fate. 

The plea which was set up in behalf of this 
atrocious and unparalleled act of wickedness, was, 
that the captain discovered, when he made the 
proposal, that he had only two hundred gallons 


of water -on board, and that he had missed his 
port. It was proved, however, in answer to this, 
that no one had been put upon short allowance ; 
and that, as if Providence had determined to af- 
ford an unequivocal proof of the guilt, a shower 
of rain fell and continued for three days immedi- 
ately after the second lot of slaves had been de- 
stroyed, by means of which they might have filled 
many of their vessels* with water, and thus have 
prevented all necessity for the destruction of the 

Mr. Sharp was present at this trial, and procured 
the attendance of a short hand writer to take 
down the facts, which should come out in the 
course of it. These he gave to the public after- 
wards. He communicated them also, with a copy 
of the trial, to the Lords of the Admiralty, as the 
guardians of justice upon the seas, and to the 
Duke of Portland, as principal minister of state. 
No notice, however, was taken by any of these, 
of the information which had been thus sent them. 

But though nothing was done by the persons 
then in power, in consequence of the murder of 
so many innocent individuals, yet the publication 
of an account of it by Mr. Sharp in the newspa- 
pers, made such an impression upon others, that 
new coadjutors rose up. For, soon after this, we 
find Thomas Day entering the lists again as the 
champion of the injured Africans. He had lived 
to see his poem of The Dying Negro, which had 

* It appeared that they filled six. 


been published in 1773, make a considerable im- 
pression. In 1776, he had written a letter to a 
friend in America, who was the possessor of slaves, 
to dissuade him by a number of arguments from 
holding such property. And now, when the knowl- 
edge of the case of the ship Zong was spreading, 
he published that letter under the title of Frag- 
ment of an Original Letter on the Slavery of the 

In this same year, Dr. Porteus, bishop of Ches- 
ter, but now bishop of London, came forward as a 
new advocate for the natives of Africa. The way 
in which he rendered them service, was by preach- 
ing a sermon in their behalf, before the Society for 
the Propagation of the Gospel. Of the wide cir- 
culation of this sermon, I shall say something in 
another place, but much more of the enlightened 
and pious author of it, who from this time never 
failed to aid, at every opportunity, the cause which 
he had so ably undertaken. 

In the year 1784, Dr. Gregory produced his 
Essays Historical and Moral. He took an oppor- 
tunity of disseminating in these a circumstantial 
knowledge of the Slave-trade, and an equal abhor- 
rence of it at the same time. He explained the 
manner of procuring slaves in Africa ; the treat- 
ment of them in the passage, (in which he men- 
tioned the case of the ship Zong,) and the wicked 
and cruel treatment of them in the colonies. He 
recited and refuted also the various arguments 
adduced in defence of the trade. He showed that 
it was destructive to our seamen. He produced 


many weighty arguments also against the slavery 
itself. He proposed clauses for an act of Parlia- 
ment for the abolition of both ; showing the good 
both to England and her colonies from such a 
measure, and that a trade might be substituted in 
Africa, in various articles, for that which he pro- 
posed to suppress. By means of the diffusion of 
light like this, both of a moral and political nature, 
Dr. Gregory is entitled to be ranked among the 
benefactors to the African race. 

In the same year, Gilbert Wakefield preached a 
sermon at Richmond in Surry, where, speaking of 
the people of this nation, he says, " Have we been 
as renowned for a liberal communication of our re- 
ligion and our laws as for the possession of them? 
Have we navigated and conquered to save, to 
civilize, and to instruct ; or to oppress, to plunder, 
and to destroy 1 Let India and Africa give the 
answer to these questions. The one we have ex- 
hausted of her wealth and her inhabitants by vio- 
lence, by famine, and by every species of tyranny 
and murder. The children of the other we daily 
carry from off the land of their nativity, like sheep 
to the slaughter, to return no more. We tear 
them from every object of their affection, or, sad 
alternative, drag them together to the horrors of a 
mutual servitude ! We keep them in the profound* 
est ignorance. We gall them in a tenfold chain, 
with an unrelenting spirit of barbarity, inconceiva- 
ble to all but the spectators of it, unexampled 
among former ages and other nations, and unre- 
corded even in the bloody registers of heathen per- 


secution. Such is the conduct of us enlightened 
Englishmen, reformed Christians ! Thus have we 
profited by our superior advantages, by the favor 
of God, by the doctrines and example of a meek 
and lowly Saviour. Will not the blessings which 
we have abused loudly testify against us 1 Will 
not the blood which we have shed cry from the 
ground for vengeance upon our sins ?" 

In the same year, James Ramsay, vicar of Tes- 
ton in Kent, became also an able, zealous, and 
indefatigable patron of the African cause. This 
gentleman had resided nineteen years in the island 
of St. Christopher, where he had observed the 
treatment of the slaves, and had studied the laws 
relating to them. On his return to England, 
yielding to his own feelings of duty and the solici- 
tations of some amiable friends, he publised a 
work, which he called An Essay on the Treat- 
ment and Conversion of the African Slaves in the 
British Sugar Colonies. After having given an 
account of the relative situation of master and slave 
in various parts of the world, he explained the 
low and degrading situation which the Africans 
held in society in our own islands. He showed 
that their importance would be increased, and the 
temporal interest of their masters promoted, by 
giving them freedom, and by granting them other 
privileges. He showed the great difficulty of in- 
structing them in the state in which they then 
were, and such as he himself had experienced both 
in his private and public attempts, and such as 
others had experienced also. He stated the way 


in which private attempts of this nature might 
probably be successful. He then answered all 
objections against their capacities, as drawn from 
philosophy, form, anatomy, and observation ; and 
vindicated these from his own experience. And 
lastly, he threw out ideas for the improvement of 
their condition, by an establishment of a greater 
number of spiritual pastors among them ; by giv- 
ing them more privileges than they then possessed ; 
and by extending towards them the benefits of a 
proper police. Mr. Ramsay had no other motive 
for giving this work to the public, than that of hu- 
manity, or a wish to serve this much injured part 
of the human species. For he compiled it at the 
hazard of forfeiting that friendship, which he had 
contracted with many during his residence in the 
islands, and of suffering much in his private prop- 
erty, as well as subjecting himself to the ill-will 
and persecution of numerous individuals. 

The publication of this book by one, who pro- 
fessed to have been so long resident in the islands, 
and to have been an eyewitness of facts, produced, 
as may easily be supposed, a good deal of conver- 
sation, and made a considerable impression, but 
particularly at this time, when a storm was visibly 
gathering over the heads of the oppressors of the 
African race. These circumstances occasioned 
one or two persons to attempt to answer it, and 
these answers brought Mr. Ramsay into the first 
controversy ever entered into on this subject, dur- 
ing which, as is the case in most controversies, 
the cause of truth was spread. 


The works which Mr. Ramsay wrote upon this 
subject, were, the Essay, just mentioned, in 1784. 
An Inquiry, also, into the Effects of the Abolition 
of the Slave-trade, in 1784. A reply to personal 
Invectives and Objections, in 1785. A Letter to 
James Tobin, Esq. in 1787. Objections to the 
Abolition of the Slave-trade, with Answers : and 
an Examination of Harris's Scriptural Researches 
on the Licitness of the Slave-trade, in 1788 ; and 
An Address on the proposed Bill for the Abolition 
of the Slave-trade, in 1789. In short, from the 
time when he first took up the cause, he was 
engaged in it till his death, which was not a little 
accelerated by his exertions. He lived, however, 
to see this cause in a train for parliamentary in- 
quiry, and he died satisfied, being convinced, as 
he often expressed, that the investigation must 
inevitably lead to the total abolition of the Slave- 

In the next year, that is, in the year 1785, 
another advocate was seen in Monsieur Necker, 
in his celebrated work on the French Finances, 
which had just been translated into the English 
language from the original work, in 1784. This 
virtuous statesman, after having given his estimate 
of the population and revenue of the French West 
Indian colonies, proceeds thus: "The colonies 
of France contain, as Ave have seen, near five 
hundred thousand slaves, and it is from the num- 
ber of these poor wretches that the inhabitants set 
a value on their plantations. What a dreadful 
prospect ! and how profound a subject for reflec- 


tion ! Alas ! how little are we both in our morality 
and our principles ! We preach up humanity, and 
yet go every year to bind in chains twenty thou- 
sand natives of Africa ? We call the Moors bar- 
barians and ruffians, because they attack the lib- 
erty of Europeans at the risk of their own ; yet 
these Europeans go, without danger, and as mere 
speculators, to purchase slaves by gratifying the 
avarice of their masters, and excite all those 
bloody scenes, which are the usual preliminaries 
of this traffic !" He goes on still further in the 
same strain. He then shows the kind of power 
which has supported this execrable trade. He 
throws out the idea of a general compact, by 
which all the European nations should agree to 
abolish it. And he indulges the pleasing hope, that 
it may take place even in the present generation. 

In the same year we find other coadjutors com- 
ing before our view, but these in a line different 
from that, in which any other belonging to this 
class had yet moved. Mr. George White, a clergy- 
man of the established church, and Mr. John 
Chubb, suggested to Mr. William Tucket, the 
mayor of Bridgewater, where they resided, and to 
others of that town, the propriety of petitioning 
Parliament for the abolition of the Slave-trade. 
This petition was agreed upon, and when drawn 
up, was as follows : — 

" The humble petition of the inhabitants of 
Bridgewater showeth, 

" That your petitioners, reflecting with the 
deepest sensibility on the deplorable condition of 

vol. i. 8 


that part of the human species, the African Ne- 
groes, who by the most flagitious means are re- 
duced to slavery and misery in the British colo- 
nies, beg leave to address this honorable house 
in their behalf, and to express a just abhorrence 
of a system of oppression, which no prospect of 
private gain, no consideration of public advantage, 
no plea of political expediency, can sufficiently 
justify or excuse. 

" That, satisfied as your petitioners are that this 
inhuman system meets with the general execration 
of mankind, they flatter themselves the day is not 
far distant when it will be universally abolished. 
And they most ardently hope to see a British 
Parliament, by the extinction of that sanguinary 
traffic, extend the blessings of liberty to millions 
beyond this realm, hold up to an enlightened 
world a glorious and merciful example, and stand 
foremost in the defence of the violated rights of 
human nature." 

This petition was presented by the honorable 
Ann Poulet, and Alexander Hood, Esq., (now 
Lord Bridport,) who were the members for the 
town of Bridgewater. It was ordered to lie on the 
table. The answer which these gentlemen gave 
to their constituents relative to the reception of it 
in the House of Commons, is worthy of notice : 
" There did not appear," say they in their com- 
mon letter, " the least disposition to pay any fur- 
ther attention to it. Every one almost says, that 
the abolition of the Slave-trade must immediately 
throw the West Indian islands into convulsions, 


and soon complete their utter ruin. Thus they 
will not trust Providence for its protection for so 
pious an undertaking." 

In the year 1786, Captain J. S. Smith of the 
royal navy offered himself to the notice of the 
public in behalf of the African cause. Mr. Ram- 
say, as I have observed before, had become in- 
volved in a controversy in consequence of his 
support of it. His opponents not only attacked 
his reputation, but had the effrontery to deny 
his facts. This circumstance occasioned Captain 
Smith to come forward. He wrote a letter to his 
friend Mr. Hill, in which he stated that he had 
seen those things, while in the West Indies, which 
Mr. Ramsay had asserted to exist, but which had 
been so boldly denied. He gave also permission 
to Mr. Hill to publish this letter. Too much 
praise cannot be bestowed on Captain Smith, for 
thus standing forth in a noble cause, and in behalf 
of an injured character. 

The last of the necessary forerunners and coad- 
jutors of this class, whom I am to mention, was 
our much admired poet, Cowper ; and a great 
coadjutor he was, when we consider what value 
was put upon his sentiments, and the extraordi- 
nary circulation of his works. There are few 
persons, who have not been properly impressed by 
the following lines : — 

. " My ear is pain'd, 

My soul is sick with every day's report 

Of wrong and outrage with which this earth is fill'd. 

There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart, 

It does not feel for man. The nat'ral bond 


Of brotherhood is sever'd as the flax 
That falls asunder at the touch of fire. 
He finds his fellow guilty of a skin 
Not color'd like his own, and having pow'r 
T' inforce the wrong for such a worthy cause 
Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey. 
Lands intersected by a narrow frith 
Abhor each other. Mountains interpos'd 
Make enemies of nations, who had else, 
Like kindred drops, been mingled into one. 
Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys ; 
And, worse than all, and most to be deplor'd 
As human nature's broadest, foulest blot, 
Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat 
With stripes, that mercy with a bleeding heart 
Weeps, when she sees inflicted on a beast. 
Then what is man ? And what man, seeing this, 
And having human feelings, does not blush 
And hang his head to think himself a man ? 
I would not have a slave to till my ground, 
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep, 
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth 
That sinews bought and sold have ever earn'd. 
No : dear as freedom is, and in my heart's 
Just estimation priz'd above all price, 
I had much rather be myself the slave, 
And wear the bonds, than fasten them on him. 
We have no slaves at home — then why abroad ? 
And they themselves once ferried o'er the wave 
That parts us, are emancipate and loos'd. 
Slaves cannot breathe in England ; if their lungs 
Receive our air, that moment they are free ; 
They touch our country, and their shackles fall.* 
That's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud 
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then, 
And let it circulate through every vein 
Of all your empires — that where Britain's pow'r 
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too." 

* Expressions used in the great trial, when Mr. Sharp obtained the verdict 
in favor of Somerset. 



Second class of forerunners and coadjutors, up to May, 1787, con- 
sists of the Quakers in England — of George Fox, and others. — 
Of the body of the Quakers assembled at the yearly meeting 
in 1727— and at various other times.— quakers, as a body, peti- 
TION Parliament — and circulate books on the subjfct. — Individ- 

the Africans— Dilwyn — Harrison — and others. — This the first 
association ever formed in england for the purpose. 

The second class of the forerunners and coad- 
jutors in this great cause up to May, 1787, will 
consist of the Quakers in England. 

The first of this class was George Fox, the 
venerable founder of this benevolent society. 

George Fox was cotemporary with Richard 
Baxter, being born not long after him, and dying 
much about the same time. Like him, he left his 
testimony against this wicked trade. When he 
was in the island of Barbadoes, in the year 1671, 
he delivered himself to those who attended his 
religious meetings in the following manner : — 

" Consider with yourselves," says he, " if you 
were in the same condition as the poor Africans 
are, who came strangers to you, and were sold to 
you as slaves ; I say, if this should be the condi- 
tion of you or yours, you would think it a hard 
measure ; yea, and very great bondage and cru- 
elty. And therefore consider seriously of this ; 
and do you for them, and to them, as you would 
willingly have them, or any others do unto you, 

vol. i. 8* 


were you in the like slavish condition, and bring 
them to know the Lord Christ." And in his 
Journal, speaking of the advice, which he gave his 
friends at Barbadoes, he says, " I desired also, 
that they would cause their overseers to deal 
mildly and gently with their Negroes, and not to 
use cruelty towards them, as the manner of some 
had been, and that after certain years of servitude 
they should make them free." 

William Edmundson, who was a minister of 
the Society, and, indeed, a fellow-traveller with 
George Fox, had the boldness in the same island 
to deliver his sentiments to the governor on the 
same subject. Having been brought before him 
and accused of making the Africans Christians, or, 
in other words, of making them rebel and destroy 
their owners, he replied, " that it was a good 
thing to bring them to the knowledge of God and 
Christ Jesus, and to believe in him who died for 
them and all men, and that this would keep them 
from rebelling, or cutting any person's throat ; 
but if they did rebel and cut their throats, as the 
governor insinuated they would, it would be their 
own doing, in keeping them in ignorance and 
under oppression, in giving them liberty to be 
common with women, like brutes, and, on the 
other hand in starving them for want of meat and 
clothes convenient ; thus giving them liberty in 
that which God restrained, and restraining them 
in that which was meat and clothing." 

I do not find any individual of this society 
moving in this cause for some time after the death 


of George Fox and William Edmundson. The 
first circumstance of moment, which I discover, 
is a Resolution of the whole Society on the sub- 
ject, at their yearly meeting held in London in 
the year 1727. The resolution was contained in 
the following w^ords : " It is the sense of this 
meeting, that the importing of Negroes from their 
native country and relations by Friends, is not a 
commendable nor allowed practice, and is there- 
fore censured by this meeting." 

In the year 175S, the Quakers thought it their 
duty, as a body, to pass another Resolution upon 
this subject. At this time the nature of the trade 
beginning to be better known, we find them more 
animated upon it, as the following extract will 
show : — 

" We fervently warn all in profession with us, 
that they carefully avoid being any way concerned 
in reaping the unrighteous profits arising from the 
iniquitous practice of dealing in Negro or other 
slaves ; whereby, in the original purchase, one 
man selleth another, as he doth the beasts that 
perish, without any better pretension to a property 
in him than that of superior force ; in direct vio- 
lation of the Gospel rule, which teacheth all to 
do as they would be done by, and to do good to 
all ; being the reverse of that covetous disposition, 
which furnisheth encouragement to those poor ig- 
norant people to perpetuate their savage wars, in 
order to supply the demands of this most unnatural 
traffic, by which great numbers of mankind, free 
by nature, are subject to inextricable bondage ; 


and which hath often been observed to fill their 
possessors with haughtiness, tyranny, luxury, and 
barbarity, corrupting the minds and debasing the 
morals of their children, to the unspeakable preju- 
dice of religion and virtue, and the exclusion of 
that holy spirit of universal love, meekness, and 
charity, which is the unchangeable nature and the 
glory of true Christianity. We therefore can do 
no less than, with the greatest earnestness, impress 
it upon Friends everywhere, that they endeavor 
to keep their hands clear of this unrighteous gain 
of oppression." 

The Quakers hitherto, as appears by the two 
resolutions which have been quoted, did nothing 
more than seriously warn all those in religious pro- 
fession with them, against being concerned in this 
trade. But in three years afterwards, or at the 
yearly meeting in 1761, they came to a resolution, 
as we find by the following extract from their 
Minutes, that any of their members having a con- 
cern in it should be disowned. " This meeting 
having reason to apprehend that divers under our 
name are concerned in the unchristian traffic in 
Negroes, doth recommend it earnestly to the care 
of Friends everywhere, to discourage, as much as 
in them lies, a practice so repugnant to our Chris- 
tian profession; and to deal with all such as shall 
persevere in a conduct so reproachful to Chris- 
tianity; and to disown them, if they desist not 

The yearly meeting of 1761, having thus agreed 
to exclude from membership such as should be found 


concerned in this trade, that of 1763 endeavored 
to draw the cords still tighter, by attaching crimi- 
nality to those, who should aid and abet the trade 
in any manner. By the minute, which was made 
on this occasion, I apprehend that no one, belong- 
ing to the Society, could furnish even materials 
for such voyages. " We renew our exhortation, 
that Friends everywhere be especially careful to 
keep their hands clear of giving encouragement in 
any shape to the Slave-trade, it being evidently 
destructive of the natural rights of mankind, who 
are all ransomed by one Saviour, and visited by one 
divine light, in order to salvation ; a traffic calcu- 
lated to enrich and aggrandize some upon the 
misery of others, in its nature abhorrent to every 
just and tender sentiment, and contrary to the 
whole tenor of the Gospel." 

Some pleasing intelligence having been sent on 
this subject by the Society in America to the Society 
in England, the yearly meeting of 1772 thought 
it their duty to notice it, and to keep their former 
resolutions alive by the following minute : " It ap*- 
pears that the practice of holding Negroes in oppres- 
sive and unnatural bondage hath been so success- 
fully discouraged by Friends in some of the colonies, 
as to be considerably lessened. We cannot but ap- 
prove of these salutary endeavors, and earnestly 
entreat they may be continued, that, through the 
favor of divine Providence, a traffic so unmerciful 
and unjust in its nature to a part of our own species, 
made equally with ourselves, for immortality, may 
come to be considered by all in its proper light, 


and be utterly abolished as a reproach to the 
Christian name." 

I must beg leave to stop here for a moment, just 
to pay the Quakers a due tribute of respect for the 
proper estimation, in which they have uniformly 
held the miserable outcasts of society, who have 
been the subject of these minutes. What a contrast 
does it afford to the sentiments of many others con- 
cerning them ! How have we been compelled to 
prove by a long chain of evidence, that they had the 
same feelings and capacities as ourselves ! How 
many, professing themselves enlightened, even now 
view them as of a different species ! But in the min- 
utes, which have been cited, we have seen them 
uniformly represented as persons " ransomed by one 
and the same Saviour; 5 ' "as visited by one and 
the same light for salvation ;" and " as made 
equally for immortality as others." These practi- 
cal views of mankind, as they are highly honora- 
ble to the members of this society, so they afford a 
proof both of the reality and of the consistency of 
their religion. 

But to return : From this time there appears 
to have been a growing desire in this benevolent 
society to step out of its ordinary course in behalf 
of this injured people. It had hitherto confined 
itself to the keeping of its own members unpolluted 
by any gain from their oppression. But it was 
now ready to make an appeal to others, and to bear 
a more public testimony in their favor. Accord- 
ingly, in the month of June, 1783, when a bill 
had been brought into the House of Commons for 


certain regulations to be made with respect to the 
African trade, the Society sent the following peti- 
tion to that branch of the legislature : — 

" Your petitioners, met in this their annual as- 
sembly, having solemnly considered the state of the 
enslaved Negroes, conceive themselves engaged, 
in religious duty, to lay the suffering situation 
of that unhappy people before you, as a subject 
loudly calling for the humane interposition of the 

" Your petitioners regret that a nation, profes- 
sing the Christian faith, should so far counteract 
the principles of humanity and justice, as by the 
cruel treatment of this oppressed race to fill their 
minds with prejudices against the mild and benefi- 
cent doctrines of the Gospel. 

" Under the countenance of the laws of this 
country many thousands of these our fellow-crea- 
tures entitled to the natural rights of mankind, are 
held as personal property in cruel bondage ; and 
your petitioners being informed that a Bill for the 
Regulation of the African Trade is now before the 
House containing a clause which restrains the 
officers of the African Company from exporting 
Negoes, your petitioners, deeply affected with a 
consideration of the rapine, oppression, and blood- 
shed, attending this traffic, humbly request that 
this restriction may be extended to all persons 
whomsoever, or that the House would grant such 
other relief in the premises as in its wisdom may 
seem meet." 

This petition was presented by Sir Cecil Wray, 


who, on introducing it, spoke very respectfully of 
the Society. He declared his hearty approbation 
of their application, and said he hoped he should 
see the day when not a slave would remain within 
the dominions of this realm. Lord North seconded 
the motion, saying he could have no objection to 
the petition, and that its object ought to recom- 
mend it to every humane breast ; that it did credit 
to the most benevolent society in the world ; but 
that, the session being so far advanced, the subject 
could not then be taken into consideration; and he 
regretted that the Slave-trade, against which the 
petition was so justly directed, was in a commer- 
cial view become necessary to almost every nation 
of Europe. The petition was then brought up and 
read, after which it was ordered to lie on the table. 
This was the first petition, (being two years earlier 
than that from the inhabitants of Bridgewater,) 
which was ever presented to Parliament for the 
abolition of the Slave-trade, 

But the Society did not stop here ; for having 
at the yearly meeting of 1783, particularly recom- 
mended the cause to a standing committee ap- 
pointed to act at intervals, called the Meeting for 
Sufferings, the latter in this same year resolved 
upon an address to the public, entitled, The Case 
of our Fellow-creatures, the oppressed Africans, 
respectfully recommended to the serious Consider- 
ation of the Legislature of Great Britain, by the 
People called Quakers : in which they endeav- 
ored in the most pathetic manner to make the 
reader acquainted with the cruel nature of this 


trade ; and they ordered two thousand copies of it 
to be printed. 

In the year 1784, they began the distribution of 
this case. The first copy was sent to the King- 
through Lord Carmarthen, and the second and the 
third, through proper officers, to the Queen and 
the Prince of Wales. Others were sent by a depu- 
tation of two members of the society to Mr. Pitt, 
as prime-minister; to the Lord Chancellor Thur- 
low ; to Lord Grower, as president of the council ; 
to Lords Carmarthen and Sidney, as secretaries of 
state ; to Lord Chief Justice Mansfield ; to Lord 
Howe, as first lord of the Admiralty; and to C. 
F. Cornwall, Esq., as speaker of the House of 
Commons. Copies were sent also to every mem- 
ber of both Houses of Parliament. 

The Society, in the same year, anxious that the 
conduct of its members should be consistent with 
its public profession on tlnV great subject, recom- 
mended it to the quarterly and monthly meetings 
to inquire through their respective districts, whether 
any, bearing its name, were in any way concerned 
in the traffic, and to deal with such, and to report 
the success of their labors in the ensuing year. 
Orders were also given for the reprinting and cir- 
culation of ten thousand other copies of "The 

In the year 1785, the Society interested itself 
again in a similar manner. For the meeting for 
sufferings, as representing it, recommended to the 
quarterly meetings to distribute a work, written by 
Anthony Benezet, in America, called, A Caution 

VOL. I. 9 


to Great Britain and her Colonies, in a short Rep- 
resentation of the calamitous State of the enslaved 
Negroes in the British Dominions. This book was 
accordingly forwarded to them for this purpose. 
On receiving it, they sent it among several public 
bodies, the regular and dissenting clergj^ justices 
of the peace, and particularly among the great 
schools of the kingdom, that the rising youth might 
acquire a knowledge, and at the same time a de- 
testation, of this cruel traffic. In this latter case, a 
deputation of the Society waited upon the masters, 
to know if they would allow their scholars to recieve 
it. The schools of Westminster, the Charter-house, 
St. Paul, Merchant-Taylors, Eton, Winchester, 
and Harrow, were among those visited. Several 
academies also were visited for this purpose. 

But I must now take my leave of the Quakers 
as a public body,* and go back to the year 1783, 
to record an event, which will be found of great 
importance in the present history, and in which 
only individuals belonging to the Society were 
concerned. This event seems to have arisen nat- 
urally out of existing or past circumstances. For 
the Society, as I have before stated, had sent a 
petition to Parliament in this year, praying for the 
abolition of the Slave-trade. It had also laid the 
foundation for a public distribution of the books as 
just mentioned, with a view of enlightening others 
on this great subject. The case of the ship Zong, 
which I have before had occasion to explain, had 

* The Quakers, as a public body, kept the subject alive at their 
yearly meeting in 1784, 1785, 1787, &c. 


occurred this same year. A letter also had been 
presented, much about the same time, by Benjamin 
West, from Anthony Benezet before mentioned, to 
our Queen, in behalf of the injured Africans, which 
she had received graciously. These subjects oc- 
cupied at this time the attention of many Quaker 
families, and among 1 others, that of a few indi- 
viduals, who wereun close intimacy with each 
other. These, when they met together frequently 
conversed upon them. They perceived, as facts 
came out in conversation, that there was a growing 
knowledge and hatred of the Slave-trade, and that 
the temper of the times was ripening towards its 
abolition. Hence a disposition manifested itself 
among these, to unite as laborers for the further- 
ance of so desirable an object. An union was at 
length proposed and approved of, and the follow- 
ing persons (placed in alphabetical order) came 
together to execute the offices growing out of it : 

William Dillwyn, Thomas Knowles, M. D., 

George Harrison, John Lloyd, 

Samuel Hoare, Joseph Woods. 

The first meeting was held on the seventh of 
July, 1783. At this "they assembled to consider 
what steps they should take for the relief and liber- 
ation of the Negro slaves in the West Indies, and 
for the discouragement of the Slave-trade on the 
coast of Africa." 

To promote this object they conceived it neces- 
sary that the public mind should be enlightened 
respecting it. They had recourse, therefore, to the 
public papers, and they appointed their members 


in turn to write in these, and to see that their 
productions were inserted. They kept regular 
minutes for this purpose. It was not, however, 
known to the world that such an association 

It appears that they had several meetings in the 
course of this year. Before the close of it they 
had secured a place in the General Evening Post, 
in Lloyd's Evening Post, in the Norwich, Bath, 
York, Bristol, Sherborne, Liverpool, Newcastle, 
and other provincial papers, for such articles as 
they chose to send to them. These consisted 
principally of extracts from such authors, both in 
prose and verse, as they thought would most en- 
lighten and interest the mind upon the subject of 
their institution. 

In the year 1784 they pursued the same plan ; 
but they began now to print books. The first was 
from a manuscript composed by Joseph Woods, 
one of the committee. It was entitled, Thoughts 
on the Slavery of the Negroes. This manuscript 
was well put together. It was a manly and yet 
feeling address in behalf of the oppressed Africans. 
It contained a sober and dispassionate appeal to 
the reason of all, without offending the prejudices 
of any. It was distributed at the expense of the 
association, and proved to be highly useful to the 
cause which it was intended to promote. 

A communication having been made to the com- 
mittee, that Dr. Porteus, then bishop of Chester, 
had preached a sermon before the Society for the 
Propagation of the Gospel, in behalf of the in- 


jured Africans, (which sermon was noticed in the 
last chapter,) Samuel Hoare was deputed to ob- 
tain permission to publish it. This led him to 
a correspondence with Mr. Ramsay before men- 
tioned. The latter applied in consequence to the 
bishop, and obtained his consent. Thus this val- 
uable sermon was also given to the world. 

In the year 1785 the association continued their 
exertions as before ; but I have no room to spe- 
cify them. I may observe, however, that David 
Barclay, a grandson of the great apologist of that 
name, assisted at one of their meetings, and (what 
is singular) that he was in a few years after- 
wards unexpectedly called to a trial of his prin- 
ciples on this very subject. For he and his 
brother John became, in consequence of a debt 
due to them, possessed of a large grazing farm, 
or pen, in Jamaica, which had thirty-two slaves 
upon it. Convinced, however, that the retaining 
of their fellow-creatures in bondage was not only 
irreconcileable with the principles of Christianity, 
but subversive of the rights of human nature, 
they determined upon the emancipation of these. 
And they* performed this generous office to the 
satisfaction of their minds, to the honor of their 
characters, to the benefit of the public, and to 

* They engaged an agent to embark for Jamaica in 1795 to 
effect this business, and had the slaves conveyed to Philadelphia, 
where they were kindly received by the Society for improving the 
Condition of free Black People. Suitable situations were found 
for the adults, and the young ones were bound out apprentices to 
handicraft trades, and to receive school learning. 
VOL. I. 9 * 


the happiness of the slave.* I mention this anec- 
dote, not only to gratify myself, by paying a proper 
respect to those generous persons who sacrificed 
their interest to principle, but also to show the 
sincerit} r of David Barclay (who is now the only 
surviving brother) as he actually put in practice 
what at one of these meetings he was desirous of 
recommending to others. 

Having now brought up the proceedings of this 
little association towards the year 1786, I shall 
take my leave of it, remarking, that it was the 
first ever formed in England for the promotion of 
the abolition of the Slave-trade. That Quakers 
have had this honor is unquestionable. Nor is it 
extraordinary that they should have taken the 
lead on this occasion, when we consider how 
advantageously they have been situated for so 
doing. For the Slave-trade, as we have not long 
ago seen, came within the discipline of the Society 
in the year 1727. From thence it continued to 
be an object of it till 1783. In 1783 the Society 
petitioned Parliament, and in 1784 it distributed 
books to enlighten the public concerning it. Thus 
we see that every Quaker, born since the year 
1727, was nourished as it were in a fixed hatred 

* James Pemberton, of Philadelphia, made the following obser- 
vation in a letter to a Friend in England : " David Barclay's hu- 
mane views towards the blacks from Jamaica have been so far 
realized, that these objects of his concern enjoy their freedom with 
comfort to themselves, and are respectable in their characters, keep- 
ing up a friendly intercourse with each other, and avoiding to inter- 
mix with the common blacks of this city, being sober in their con- 
duct and industrious in their business." 


against it. He was taught, that any concern in it 
was a crime of the deepest dye. He was taught, 
that the bearing of his testimony against it was a 
test of unity with those of the same religious pro- 
fession. The discipline of the Quakers was there- 
fore a school for bringing them up as advocates 
for the abolition of this trade. To this it may 
be added, that the Quakers knew more about the 
trade and the slavery of the Africans, than any 
other religious body of men, who had not been 
in the land of their sufferings. For there had 
been a correspondence between the Society in 
America and that in England on the subject, the 
contents of which must have been known to the 
members of each. American ministers also were 
frequently crossing the Atlantic on religious mis- 
sions to England. These, when they travelled 
through various parts of our island, frequently 
related to the Quaker families in their way the 
cruelties they had seen and heard of in their own 
country. English ministers were also frequently 
going over to America on the same religious 
errand. These, on their return, seldom failed to 
communicate what they had learned or observed, 
but more particularly relative to the oppressed 
Africans, in their travels. The journals also of 
these, which gave occasional accounts of the suf- 
ferings of the slaves, were frequently published. 
Thus situated in point of knowedge, and brought 
up moreover from their youth in a detestation of 
the trade, the Quakers were ready to act whenever 
a favorable opportunity should present itself. 



Third class of forerunners and coadjutors, up to 1787, consists of 
the Quakers and others in America. — Yearly meeting for Penn- 
sylvania and the Jerseys takes up the subject in 16y6 — and con» 
tinue it till 1787. — other five yearly meetings take similar 
measures. — Quakers as individuals, also become laborers.— Wil- 
liam Burling and others. — Individuals of other religious de- 

Union of the Quakers with others in a society for Pennsyl- 
vania, in 1774. — James Pemberton — Dr. Rush. — Similar union of 
the Quakers with others for New York and other provinces. 

The next class of the forerunners and coad- 
jutors, up to the year 1787, will consist, first, of 
the Quakers in America ; and then of others, as 
they were united to these for the same object. 

It may be asked, How the Quakers living there 
should have become forerunners and coadjutors in 
the great work now under our consideration. I 
reply, first, That it was an object for many years 
with these to do away the Slave-trade as it was 
carried on in their own ports. But this trade was 
conducted in part, both before and after the inde- 
pendence of America, by our own countrymen. 
It was, secondly, an object with these to annihi- 
late slavery in America ; and this they have been 
instruments in accomplishing to a considerable 
extent. But any abolition of slavery within given 
boundaries must be a blow to the Slave-trade 
there. The American Quakers, lastly, living in 
a land where both the commerce and slavery ex- 
isted, were in the way of obtaining a number of 


important facts relative to both, which made for 
their annihilation ; and communicating many of 
these facts to those in England, who espoused the 
same cause, they became fellow-laborers, with 
these in producing the event in question. 

The Quakers in America, it must be owned, 
did most of them originally as other settlers there 
with respect to the purchase of slaves. They had 
lands without a sufficient number of laborers, and 
families without a sufficient number of servants, 
for their work. Africans were poured in to obviate 
these difficulties, and these were bought promiscu- 
ously by all. In these days, indeed, the purchase 
of them was deemed favorable to both parties, for 
there was little or no knowledge of the manner in 
which they had been procured as slaves. There 
was no charge of inconsistency on this account, 
as in later times. But though many of the Qua- 
kers engaged, without their usual consideration, 
in purchases of this kind, yet those constitutional 
principles, which belong to the Society, occasion- 
ed the members of it in general to treat those 
whom they purchased with great tenderness, con- 
sidering them, though of a different color, as 
brethren, and as persons for whose spiritual wel- 
fare it became them to be concerned ; so that 
slavery, except as to the power legally belonging 
to it, was in general little more than servitude in 
their hands. 

This treatment, as it was thus mild on the con- 
tinent of America where the members of this so- 
ciety were the owners of slaves, so it was equally 


mild in the West India islands where they had 
a similar property. In the latter countries, how- 
ever, where only a few of them lived, it began 
soon to be productive of serious consequences ; for 
it was so different from that, which the rest of 
the inhabitants considered to be proper, that the 
latter became alarmed at it. Hence in Barbadoes 
an act was passed in 1676, under governor Atkins, 
which was entitled, An Act to prevent the people 
called Quakers from bringing their Negroes into 
their meetings for worship, though they held 
these in their own houses. This act was founded 
on the pretence, that the safety of the island 
might be endangered, if the slaves were to imbibe 
the religious principles of their masters. Under 
this act Ralph Fretwell and Richard Sutton were 
fined in the different sums of eight hundred and 
of three hundred pounds, because each of them 
had suffered a meeting of the Quakers at his own 
house, at the first of which eighty Negroes, and at 
the second of which thirty of them were present. 
But this matter was carried still further ; for in 
1680, Sir Richard Dutton, then governor of the 
island, issued an order to the deputy provost mar- 
shal and others, to prohibit all meetings of this 
society. In the island of Nevis the same bad 
spirit manifested itself. So early as in 1661, a 
law was made there prohibiting members of this 
society from coming on shore. Negroes were put 
in irons for being present at their meetings, and 
they themselves were fined also. At length, in 
1677, another act was passed, laying a heavy pe- 


nalty on every master of a vessel, who should 
even bring a Quaker to the island. In Antigua 
and Bermudas similar proceedings took place, so 
that the Quakers were in time expelled from this 
part of the world. By these means a valuable 
body of men were lost to the community in these 
islands, whose example might have been highly 
useful ; and the poor slave, who saw nothing but 
misery in his temporal prospects, was deprived 
of the only balm, which cculd have soothed his 
sorrow, the comfort of religion. 

But to return to the continent of America. 
Though the treatment, which the Quakers adopt- 
ed there towards those Africans who fell into 
their hands, was so highly commendable, it did 
not prevent individuals among them from becom- 
ing uneasy about holding them in slavery at all. 
Some of these bore their private testimony against 
it from the beginning as a wrong practice, and 
in process of time brought it before the notice of 
their brethren as a religious body. So early as in 
the year 1688, some emigrants from Krieshiem in 
Germany, who had adopted the principles of Wil- 
liam Penn, and followed him into Pennsylvania, 
urged in the yearly meeting of the Society there, 
the inconsistency of buying, selling, and holding 
men in slavery, with the principles of the Christian 

In the year 1696, the yearly meeting for that 
province took up the subject as a public concern, 
and the result was advice to the members of it 
to guard against future importations of African 


slaves, and to be particularly attentive to the 
treatment of those, who were then in their pos- 

In the year 1711, the same yearly meeting- re- 
sumed the important subject, and confirmed and 
renewed the advice, which had been before given. 

From this time it continued to keep the subject 
alive ; but finding at length, that, though individ- 
uals refused to purchase slaves, yet others con- 
tinued the custom, and in greater numbers than 
it was apprehended would have been the case 
after the public declarations which had been made, 
it determined, in the year 1754, upon a fuller and 
more serious publication of its sentiments ; and 
therefore it issued, in the same year, the follow- 
ing pertinent letter to all the members within its 

" Dear Friends, 

" It hath frequently been the concern of our 
yearly meeting to testify their uneasiness and 
disunity with the importation and purchasing of 
Negroes and other slaves, and to direct the over- 
seers of the several meetings to advise and deal 
with such as engage therein. And it hath like- 
wise been the continual care of many weighty 
Friends to press those, who bear our name, to 
guard as much as possible, against being in any 
respect concerned in promoting the bondage of 
such unhappy people. Yet, as we have with sor- 
row to observe, that their number is of late in- 
creased among us, we have thought it proper to 


make our advice and judgment more public, that 
none may plead ignorance of our principles there- 
in ; and also again earnestly to exhort all to avoid, 
in any manner, encouraging that practice, of 
making slaves of our fellow-creatures. 

" Now, dear Friends, if we continually bear in 
mind the royal law of doing to others as we would 
be done by, we should never think of bereaving 
our fellow-creatures of that valuable blessing, lib- 
erty ; nor endure to grow rich by their bondage. 
To live in ease and plenty by the toil of those, 
whom violence and cruelty have put in our power, 
is neither consistent with Christianity nor com- 
mon justice ; and, we have good reason to believe, 
draws down the displeasure of Heaven ; it being 
a melancholy but true reflection, that, where slave- 
keeping prevails, pure religion and sobriety decline, 
as it evidently tends to harden the heart, and 
render the soul less susceptible of that holy spirit 
of love, meekness, and charity, which is the pe- 
culiar characteristic of a true Christian. 

" How then can we, who have been concerned 
to publish the Gospel of universal love and peace 
among mankind, be so inconsistent with ourselves, 
as to purchase such as are prisoners of war, and 
thereby encourage this antichristian practice ; and 
more especially as many of these poor creatures 
are stolen away, parents from children, and chil- 
dren from parents ; and others, who were in good 
circumstances in their native country, inhumanly 
torn from what they esteemed a happy situation, 
and compelled to toil in a state of slavery, too 

vol. i. 10 


often extremely cruel ! What dreadful scenes of 
murder and cruelty those barbarous ravages must 
occasion in these unhappy people's country are too 
obvious to mention. Let us make their case our 
own, and consider what we should think, and how 
we should feel, were we in their circumstances. 
Remember our blessed Redeemer's positive com- 
mand ; to do unto others as we would have them 
do unto us ; and that with what measure we mete, 
it shall be measured to us again. And we entreat 
you to examine, whether the purchasing of a Ne- 
gro, either born here or imported, doth not con- 
tribute to a further importation, and, consequently, 
to the upholding of all the evils above mentioned, 
and to the promoting of man-stealing, the only 
theft which by the Mosaic law was punished with 
death ; ' He that stealeth a man, and selleth him ; 
or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be 
put to death.' 

" The characteristic and badge of a true Chris- 
tian is love and good works. Our Saviour's 
whole life on earth was one continual exercise of 
them. 'Love one another,' says he, 'as I have 
loved you.' But how can we be said to love our 
brethren, who bring, or for selfish ends, keep 
them, in bondage 1 Do w T e act consistently with 
this noble principle, who lay such heavy burthens 
on our fellow-creatures ? Do we consider that 
they are called, and do we sincerely desire that 
they may become heirs with us in glory, and that 
they may rejoice in the liberty of the sons of God, 
whilst we are withholding from them the common 


liberties of mankind 1 Or can the Spirit of God 5 
by which we have always professed to be led, be 
the author of those oppressive and unrighteous 
measures % Or do we not thereby manifest, that 
temporal interest hath more influence on our con- 
duct herein, than the dictates of that merciful, 
holy, and unerring Guide % 

"And we likewise earnestly recommend to all, 
who have slaves, to be careful to come up in the 
performance of their duty towards them, and to 
be particularly watchful over their own hearts, it 
being by sorrowful experience remarkable, that 
custom, and a familiarity with evil of any kind, 
have a tendency to bias the judgment and to de- 
prave the mind. And it is obvious that the future 
welfare of these poor slaves, who are now in bon- 
dage, is generally too much disregarded by those 
who keep them. If their daily task of labor be 
but fulfilled, little else perhaps is thought of. Nay, 
even that which in others would be looked upon 
with horror and detestation, is little regarded in 
them by their masters, such as the frequent sepa- 
ration of husbands from wives and wives from 
husbands, whereby they are tempted to break their 
marriage covenants, and live in adultery, in direct 
opposition to the laws of God and men, although 
we believe that Christ died for all men without 
respect of persons. How fearful then ought we 
to be of engaging in what hath so natural a ten- 
dency to lessen our humanity, and of suffering 
ourselves to be inured to the exercise of hard and 
cruel measures, lest thereby in any degree we lose 


our tender and feeling sense of the miseries of our 
fellow-creatures, and become worse than those 
who have not believed. 

" And, dear Friends, you, who by inheritance 
have slaves born in your families, we beseech you 
to consider them as souls committed to your trust, 
whom the Lord will require at your hand, and 
who, as well as you, are made partakers of the 
Spirit of Grace, and called to be heirs of salvation. 
And let it be your constant care to watch over 
them for good, instructing them in the fear of 
God, and the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ, 
that they may answer the end of their creation, 
and that God may be glorified and honored by 
them as well as by us. And so train them up, 
that if you should come to behold their unhappy 
situation, in the same light, that many worthy 
men, who are at rest, have done, and many of 
your brethren now do, and should think it your 
duty to set them free, they may be the more ca- 
pable of making proper use of their liberty. 

" Finally, brethren, we entreat you, in the bow- 
els of gospel love, seriously to weigh the cause of 
detaining them in bondage. If it be for your own 
private gain, or any other motive than their good, 
it is much to be feared that the love of God and 
the influence of the Holy Spirit are not the pre- 
vailing principles in you, and that 3^our hearts are 
not sufficiently redeemed from the world, which, 
that you with ourselves may more and more come 
to witness, through the cleansing virtue of the 
Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, is our earnest desire. 


With the salutation of our love, we are your friends 

and brethren. 

" Signed, in behalf of the yearly meeting, by 

"John Evans, Abraham Farringdon, 

John Smith, Joseph Noble, 

Thomas Carleton, James Daniel, 

William Trimble, Joseph Gibson, 

John Scarborough, John Shotwell, 

Joseph Hampton, Joseph Parker." 

This truly Christian letter, which was written 
in the year 1754, was designed, as we collect 
from the contents of it, to make the sentiments of 
the Society better known and attended to on the 
subject of the Slave-trade. It contains, as we see, 
exhortations to all the members within the yearly 
meeting of Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, to de- 
sist from purchasing and importing slaves, and, 
where they possessed them, to have a tender con- 
sideration of their condition. But that the first 
part of the subject of this exhortation might be 
enforced, the yearly meeting for the same provin- 
ces came to a resolution in 1755, That if any of 
the members belonging to it bought or imported 
slaves, the overseers were to inform their respec- 
tive monthly meetings of it, that "these might 
treat with them, as they might be directed in the 
wisdom of truth." 

In the year 1774, we find the same yearly meet- 
ing legislating again on the same subject. By the 
preceding resolution they, who became offenders, 
were subjected only to exclusion from the meet- 

VOL. I. 10* 


ings for discipline, and from the privilege of con- 
tributing to the pecuniary occasions of the Society; 
but by the resolution of the present year, all mem- 
bers, concerned in importing, selling, purchasing, 
giving, or transferring Negro or other slaves, or 
otherwise acting in such manner as to continue 
them in slavery beyond the term limited by law* 
or custom, were directed to be excluded from 
membership or disowned. At this meeting also 
all the members of it were cautioned and advised 
against acting as executors or administrators to 
estates, where slaves were bequeathed, or likely 
to be detained in bondage. 

In the year 1776, the same yearly meeting car- 
ried the matter still further. It was then enacted, 
That the owners cf slaves, who refused to execute 
proper instruments for giving them their freedom, 
were to be disowned likewise. 

In 1778 it was enacted by the same meeting, 
That the children of those, who had been set free 
by members, should be tenderly advised, and have 
a suitable education given them. 

It is not necessary to proceed further on this 
subject. It may be sufficient to say, that from 
this time, the Minutes of the yearly meeting for 
Pennsylvania and the Jerseys exhibit proofs of 
an almost incessant attention, year after year,f 

* This alludes to the term of servitude for white persons in these 

f Thus in 1779, 1780, 1, 2, 4, 5, 6. The members also of this 
meeting petitioned their own legislature on this subject both in 
1783 and in 1786. 


to the means not only of wiping- away the stain 
of slavery from their religious community, but 
of promoting the happiness of those restored to 
freedom, and of their posterity also. And as the 
yearly meeting of Pennsylvania and the Jerseys 
set this bright example, so those of New Eng- 
land, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and of the 
Carolinas and Georgia, in process of time fol- 
lowed it. 

But whilst the Quakers were making these 
exertions at their different yearly meetings in 
America, as a religious body, to get rid both of 
the commerce and slavery of their fellow-creatures, 
others in the same profession were acting as in- 
dividuals (that is, on their own grounds and inde- 
pendently of any influence from their religious 
communion) in the same cause, whose labors it 
will now be proper, in a separate narrative, to 

The first person of this description in the So- 
ciety, was William Burling of Long Island. He 
had conceived an abhorrence of slavery from 
early youth. In process of time he began to 
bear his testimony against it, by representing the 
unlawfulness of it to those of his own Society, 
when assembled at one of their yearly meet- 
ings. This expression of his public testimony 
he continued annually on the same occasion. He 
wrote also several tracts with the same design, 
one of which, published in the year 1718, he 
addressed to the elders of his own church, on the 
inconsistency of compelling people and their pos* 


terity to serve them continually and arbitrarily, 
and without any proper recompense for their 

The next was Ralph Sandiford, a merchant in 
Philadelphia. This worthy person had many 
offers of pecuniary assistance, which would have 
advanced him in life, but he declined them all be- 
cause they came from persons, who had acquired 
their independence by the oppression of their 
slaves. He was very earnest in endeavoring to 
prevail upon his friends, both in and out of the 
Society, to liberate those whom they held in bon- 
dage. At length he determined upon a work 
called The Mystery of Iniquity, in a brief Exami- 
nation of the Practice of the Times. This he 
published in the year 1729, though the chief 
judge had threatened him if he should give it 
to the world, and he circulated it free of expense 
wherever he believed it would be useful. The 
above work was excellent as a composition. The 
language of it was correct. The style manly and 
energetic. And it abounded with facts, senti- 
ments, and quotations, which, while they showed 
the virtue and talents of the author, rendered it a 
valuable appeal in behalf of the African cause. 

The next public advocate was Benjamin Lay,* 
who lived at Abington, at the distance of ten 
miles from Philadelphia. Benjamin Lay was 

* Benjamin Lay attended the meetings for worship, or associated 
himself with the religious society of the Gluakers. His wife, too* 
was an approved minister of the gospel in that Society. But I be^ 
lieve he was not long an acknowledged member of it himself. 


known, when in England, to the royal family of 
that day, into whose private presence he was ad- 
mitted. On his return to America, he took an 
active part in behalf of the oppressed Africans. 
In the year 1737, he published a treatise on Slave- 
keeping. This he gave away among his neigh- 
bors and others, but more particularly among the 
rising youth, many of whom he visited in their 
respective schools. He applied also to several of 
the governors for interviews, with whom he held 
conferences on the subject. Benjamin Lay was 
a man of strong understanding and of great integ- 
rity, but of warm and irritable feelings, and more 
particularly so when he was called forth on any 
occasion in which the oppressed Africans were 
concerned. For he had lived in the island of 
Barbadoes, and he had witnessed there scenes of 
cruelty towards them, which had greatly disturbed 
his mind, and which unhinged it, as it were, 
whenever the subject of their sufferings was 
brought before him. Hence if others did not 
think precisely as he did, when he conversed with 
them on the subject, he was apt to go out of due 
bounds. In bearing what he believed to be his 
testimony against this system of oppression, he 
adopted sometimes a singularity of manner, by 
which, as conveying demonstration of a certain 
eccentricity of character, he diminished in some 
degree his usefulness to the cause which he had 
undertaken ; as far indeed as this eccentricity 
might have the effect of preventing others from 
joining him in his pursuit, lest they should be 


thought singular also, so far it must be allowed 
that he ceased to become beneficial. But there 
can be no question, on the other hand, that his 
warm and enthusiastic manners awakened the 
attention of many to the cause, and gave them 
first impressions concerning it, which they never 
afterwards forgot, and which rendered them useful 
to it in the subsequent part of their lives. 

The person, who labored next in the Society, 
in behalf of the oppressed Africans, was John 

John Woolman was born at Northampton, in 
the county of Burlington and province of Western 
New Jersey, in the year 1720. In his very early 
youth he attended, in an extraordinary manner, to 
the religious impressions which he perceived upon 
his mind, and began to have an earnest solicitude 
about treading in the right path. "From what I 
had read and heard," says he, in his Journal,* "I 
believed there had been in past ages people, who 
walked in uprightness before God in a degree ex- 
ceeding any, that I knew or heard of, now living. 
And the apprehension of there being less steadi- 
ness and firmness among people of this age, than 
in past ages, often troubled me while I was a 
child." An anxious desire to do away, as far as 
he himself was concerned, this merited reproach, 
operated as one among other causes to induce him 
to be particularly watchful over his thoughts and 
actions, and to endeavor to attain that purity of 

* This short sketch of the life and labors of John Woolman, is 
made up from his Journal 

ABOLITION OF m :li"E-:?.i:i 119 

heart, without which he conceived there could 
be no perfection of the Christian character. Ac- 
cordingly, in the twenty-second year of his age, 
he had given such proof of the integrity of his life, 
and of his religions qualifications, that he became 
an acknowledged minister of the gospel in his 
own Society. 

At a time prior to his entering' upon the min- 
is :j. being in low circumstance 5. he agreed : 
wages to "attend shop for a person at Mount 
H--I7. and to keep his books." In this situation 
discover, by an occurrence that happened, that 
he had thought seriously on the subject, and that 
he had conceived proper views of the Christian 
unlawfulness :: slavery. K My employer, 55 says 
be, "having a Negro woman, sold her, and de- 
sired me to write a bill of sale, the man being 
waiting, who bought her. The thing was sud- 
den, and though the thought of writing an instru- 
ment of slavery foe one of my fellow-creatures 
made me feel uneasy, yet I remembered I was 
hired by the year, that it was my master who 
directed me to do it, and that it was an elderly 
man, a member of our Society, who bought her. 
So through weakness I gate way ;.nd wrote, but, 
at executing it, I was so afflicted in my mind, 
that 1 said before my master and the friend, 
that I believed slave-keeping to be a practice in- 
consistent with the Christian religion. This in 
some degTee abated my uneasiness ; yet. as often 
K I reflec 1 seriously upon it, I thought I should 
have been clearer, if I had desired to have been 


excused from it, as a thing against my conscience; 
for such it was. And some time after this, a 
young man of our Society spoke to me to write a 
conveyance of a slave to him, he having lately 
taken a Negro into his house. I told him I was 
not easy to write it ; for though many of our 
meeting, and in other places, kept slaves, I still 
believed the practice was not right, and desired 
to be excused from the writing. I spoke to him 
in good will ; and he told me that keeping slaves 
was not altogether agreeable to his mind, but, 
that the slave being a gift to his wife he had 
accepted of her." 

We may easily conceive that a person so scrupu- 
lous and tender on this subject (as indeed John 
Woolman was on all others), was in the way of 
becoming in time more eminently serviceable to 
his oppressed fellow-creatures. We have seen 
already the good seed sown in his heart, and it 
seems to have wanted only providential seasons 
and occurrences to be brought into productive fruit. 
Accordingly we find that a journey, which he 
took as a minister of the gospel in 1746, through 
the provinces of Maryland, Virginia, and North 
Carolina, which were then more noted than others 
for the number of slaves in them, contributed to 
prepare him as an instrument for the advancement 
of this great cause. The following are his own 
observations upon this journey. " Two things 
were remarkable to me in this journey ; First, in 
regard to my entertainment. When I ate, drank, 
and lodged free-cost, with people who lived in 


ease on the hard labor of their slaves, I felt 
uneasy ; and, as my mind was inward to the 
Lord, I found, from place to place, this uneasi- 
ness return upon me at times through the whole 
visit. Where the masters bore a good share of 
the burthen, and lived frugally, so that their ser- 
vants were well provided for, and their labor 
moderate, I felt more easy. But where they 
lived in a costly way, and laid heavy burthens on 
their slaves, my exercise was often great, and 
I frequently had conversations with them in pri- 
vate concerning it. Secondly, This trade of im- 
porting slaves from their native country being 
much encouraged among them, and the white 
people and their children so generally living 
without much labor, was frequently the subject 
of my serious thoughts : and 1 saw in these 
southern provinces so many vices and corruptions, 
increased by this trade and this way of life, that 
it appeared to me as a gloom over the land." 

From the year 1747 to the year 1753, he seems 
to have been occupied chiefly as a minister of 
religion, but in the latter year he published a 
work upon Slave- keeping ; and in the same year, 
while travelling within the compass of his own 
monthly meeting, a circumstance happened, which 
kept alive his attention to the same subject. 
" About this time," says he, " a person at some 
distance lying sick, his brother came to me to 
write his will. I knew he had slaves, and, asking 
his brother, was told, he intended to leave them 
as slaves to his children. As writing was a profit- 

VOL. I. 11 


able employ, and as offending sober people was 
disagreeable to my inclination, I was straitened 
in my mind, but as I looked to the Lord he inclined 
my heart to his testimony; and I told the man, 
that I believed the practice of continuing slavery 
to this people was not right, and that I had a 
scruple in my mind against doing writings of that 
kind ; that, though many in our Society kept 
them as slaves, still I was not easy to be concerned 
in it, and desired to be excused from going to 
write the will. I spoke to him in the fear of the 
Lord ; and he made no reply to what I said, but 
went away : he also had some concerns in the 
practice, and I thought he was displeased with 
me. In this case, I had a fresh confirmation, that 
acting contrary to present outward interest from 
a motive of Divine love, and in regard to truth 
and righteousness, opens the way to a treasure 
better than silver, and to a friendship exceeding 
the friendship of men." 

From 1753 to 1755, two circumstances of a 
similar kind took place, which contributed greatly 
to strengthen him in the path he had taken ; for 
in both these cases the persons who requested 
him to make their wills, were so impressed by the 
principle upon which he refused them, and by his 
manner of doing it, that they bequeathed liberty 
to their slaves. 

In the year 1756, he made a religious visit to 
several of the Society in Long Island. Here 
it was that the seed, now long fostered by the 
genial influences of Heaven, began to burst forth 


into fruit. Till this time he seems to have been 
a passive instrument, attending only to such cir- 
cumstances as came in his way on this subject. 
But now he became- an active one, looking out 
for circumstances for the exercise of his labors. 
"My mind," says he, "was deeply engaged in this 
visit, both in public and private ; and at several 
places observing that members kept slaves, I found 
myself under a necessity, in a friendly way to 
labor with them on that subject, expressing, as 
the way opened, the inconsistency of that practice 
with the purity of the Christian religion, and the 
ill effects of it as manifested amongst us. 

In the year 1757, he felt his mind so deeply 
interested on the same subject, that he resolved 
to travel over Maryland, Virginia, and North 
Carolina, in order to try to convince persons, 
principally in his own Society, of the inconsist- 
ency of holding slaves. He joined his brother 
with him in this arduous service. Having passed 
the Susquehanna into Maryland, he began to 
experience great agitation of mind. " Soon after 
I entered this province," says he, "a deep and 
painful exercise came upon me, which I often 
had some feeling of since my mind was drawn 
towards these parts, and with which I had ac- 
quainted my brother, before we agreed to join as 

" As the people in this and the southern pro- 
vinces live much on the labor of slaves, many of 
whom are used hardly, my concern was that I 
might attend with singleness of heart to the voice 


of the true Shepherd, and be so supported, as to 
remain unmoved at the faces of men." 

It is impossible for me to follow him in detail, 
through this long and interesting journey, when I 
consider the bounds I have prescribed to myself in 
this work. I shall say therefore, what I purpose 
to offer generally and in a few words. 

It appears that he conversed with persons oc- 
casionally, who were not of his own Society, with 
a view of answering their arguments, and of en- 
deavoring to evince the wickedness and impolicy 
of slavery. In discoursing with these, however 
strenuous he might appear, he seems never to 
have departed from a calm, modest, and yet digni- 
fied and even friendly demeanor. At the public 
meetings for discipline, held by his own Society 
in these provinces, he endeavored to display the 
same truths and in the same manner, but particu- 
larly to the elders of his own Society, exhorting 
them, as the most conspicuous rank, to be careful 
of their conduct, and to give a bright example in 
the liberation of their slaves. He visited also 
families for the same purpose : and he had the 
well-earned satisfaction of finding his admonitions 
kindly received by some, and of seeing a dispo- 
sition in others to follow the advice he had given 

In the year 1758, he attended the yearly meet- 
ing at Philadelphia, where he addressed his breth- 
ren on the propriety of dealing with such members, 
as should hereafter purchase slaves. On the dis- 
cussion of this point he spoke a second time, and 


this to such effect that he had the satisfaction at 
this meeting to see minutes made more fully than 
any before, and a committee appointed, for the 
advancement of the great object, to which he had 
now been instrumental in turning the attention of 
many, and to witness a considerable spreading of 
the cause. In the same year also, he joined him- 
self with two others of the Society to visit such 
members of it, as possessed slaves in Chester 
county. In this journey he describes himself to 
have met with several, who were pleased with his 
visit, but to have found difficulties with others 3 
towards whom however he felt a sympathy and 
tenderness on account of their being entangled by 
the spirit of the world. 

In the year 1759, he visited several of the So- 
ciety who held slaves in Philadelphia. In about 
three months afterwards, he travelled there again, 
in company with John Churchman, to see others 
under similar circumstances. He then went to 
different places on the same errand. In this last 
journey he went alone. After this he joined him- 
self to John Churchman again, but he confined 
his labors to his own province. Here he had the 
pleasure of finding that the work prospered. Soon 
after this he took Samuel Eastburne as a coad- 
jutor, and pleaded the cause of the poor Africans 
with many of the Society in Bucks county, who 
held them in bondage there. 

In the year 1760, he travelled, in company with 
his friend Samuel Eastburne, to Rhode Island, to 
promote the same object. This island had been 

vol. i. 11 * 


long noted for its trade to Africa for slaves. He 
found at Newport, the great sea-port town belong- 
ing to it, that a number of them had been lately 
imported. He felt his mind deeply impressed on 
this account. He was almost overpowered in 
consequence of it, and became ill. He thought 
once of promoting a petition to the legislature, to 
discourage all such importations in future. He 
then thought of going and speaking to the House 
of Assembly, which was then sitting ; but he was 
discouraged from both these proceedings. He 
held, however, a conference with many of his own 
Society in the meeting-house chamber, where the 
subject of his visit was discussed on both sides, 
with a calm and peaceable spirit. Many of those 
present manifested the concern they felt at their 
former practices, and others a desire of taking 
suitable care of their slaves at their decease. 
From Newport he proceeded to Nantucket ; but 
observing the members of the Society there to 
have few or no slaves, he exhorted them to perse- 
vere in abstaining from the use of them, and re- 
turned home. 

In the year 1761, he visited several families in 
Pennsylvania, and, in about three months after- 
wards, others about Shrewsbury and Squan in 
New Jersey. On his return he added a second 
part to the treatise before published on the keep- 
ing of slaves, a care which had been growing 
upon him for some years. 

In the year 1762, he printed, published, and 
distributed this treatise. 


In 1767, he went on foot to the western shores 
of the same province on a religious visit. After 
having crossed the Susquehanna, his old feelings 
returned to him; for coming amongst people liv- 
ing in outward ease and greatness, chiefly on the 
labor of slaves, his heart was much affected, and 
he waited with humble resignation, to learn how 
he should further perform his duty to this injured 
people. The travelling on foot, though it was 
agreeable to the state of his mind, he describes to 
have been wearisome to his body. He felt himself 
weakly at times, in consequence of it, but yet con- 
tinued to travel on. At one of the quarterly meet- 
ings of the Society, being in great sorrow and 
heaviness, and under deep exercise on account of 
the miseries of the poor Africans, he expressed 
himself freely to those present, who held them in 
bondage. He expatiated on the tenderness and 
loving kindness of the apostles, as manifested 
in labors, perils, and sufferings, towards the poor 
Gentiles, and contrasted their treatment of the 
Gentiles with it, whom he described in the persons 
of their slaves ; and was much satisfied with the 
result of his discourse. 

From this time we collect little more from his 
journal concerning him, than that, in 1772, he 
embarked for England on a religious visit. After 
his arrival there, he travelled through many coun- 
ties, preaching in different meetings of the Society, 
till he came to the city of York. But even here, 
though he was far removed from the sight of those 
whose interests he had so warmly espoused, he was 


not forgetful of their wretched condition. At the 
quarterly meeting for that county, he brought their 
case before those present in an affecting manner. 
He exhorted these to befriend their cause. He 
remarked that as they, the Society, when under 
outward sufferings, had often found a concern to 
lay them before the legislature, and thereby, in 
the Lord's time, had obtained relief: so he recom- 
mended this oppressed part of the creation to their 
notice, that they might, as the way opened, rep- 
resent their sufferings as individuals, if not as a 
religious society, to those in authority in this land. 
This was the last opportunity that he had of in- 
teresting himself in behalf of this injured people ; 
for soon afterwards he was seized with the small- 
pox at the house of a friend in the city of York, 
where he died. 

The next person belonging to the Society of the 
Quakers, who labored in behalf of the oppressed 
Africans, was Anthony Benezet. He was born 
before, and he lived after, John Woolman; of 
course he was cotemporary with him. I place 
him after John Woolman, because he was not so 
much known as a laborer, till two or three years 
after the other had begun to move in the same 

Anthony Benezet was born at St. Quintin in 
Picardy, of a respectable family, in the year 1713. 
His father was one of the many protestants, who, 
in consequence of the persecutions which followed 
the revocation of the edict of Nantz, sought an 
asylum in foreign countries. After a short stay in 


Holland, he settled, with his wife and children in 
London, in 1715. 

Anthony Benezet, having received from his fa- 
ther a liberal education, served an apprenticeship 
in an eminent mercantile house in London* In 
1731, however, he removed with his family to 
Philadelphia, where he joined in profession with 
the Quakers. His three brothers then engaged 
in trade, and made considerable pecuniary acquisi- 
tions in it. He himself might have partaken both 
of their concerns and of their prosperity ; but he 
did not feel himself at liberty to embark in their 
undertakings. He considered the accumulation 
of wealth as of no importance, when compared 
with the enjoyment of doing good ; and he chose 
the humble situation of a schoolmaster, as accord- 
ing best with this notion, believing, that by en- 
deavoring to train up youth in knowledge and vir- 
tue, he should become more extensively useful than 
in any other way to his fellow-creatures. 

He had not been long in his new situation, be- 
fore he manifested such an uprightness of conduct, 
such a courtesy of manners, such a purity of inten- 
tion, and such a spirit of benevolence, that he at- 
tracted the notice, and gained the good opinion, 
of the inhabitants among whom he lived. He had 
ready access to them, in consequence, upon all 
occasions ; and, if there were any whom he failed 
to influence at any of these times, he never went 
away without the possession of their respect. 

In the year 1756, when a considerable number 
of French families were removed from Acadia into 


Pennsylvania, on account of some political sus- 
picions, he felt deeply interested about them. In 
a country where few understood their language, 
they were wretched and helpless ; but Anthony 
Benezet endeavored to soften the rigor of their sit- 
uation, by his kind attention towards them. He 
exerted himself also in their behalf, by procuring 
many contributions for them, which, by the con- 
sent of his fellow-citizens, where entrusted to his 

As the principle of benevolence, when duly 
cultivated, brings forth fresh shoots, and becomes 
enlarged, so we find this amiable person extending 
the sphere of his usefulness, by becoming an advo- 
cate for the oppressed African race. For this ser- 
vice he seems to have been peculiarly qualified. 
Indeed, as in all great works a variety of talents 
is necessary to bring them to perfection, so Provi- 
dence seems to prepare different men as instru- 
ments, with dispositions and qualifications so vari- 
ous, that each, in pursuing that line which seems 
to suit him best, contributes to furnish those parts, 
which, when put together, make up a complete 
whole. In this point of view, John Woolman 
found, in Anthony Benezet, the coadjutor, whom, 
of all others, the cause required, the former had 
occupied himself principally on the subject of Sla- 
very. The latter went to the root of the evil, 
and more frequently attacked the Trade. The 
former chiefly confined his labors to America, and 
chiefly to those of his own Society there. The 
latter, when he wrote, did not write for America 


only, but for Europe also, and endeavored to 
spread a knowledge and hatred of the traffic 
through the great society of the world. 

One of the means which Anthony Benezet took 
to promote the cause in question, (and an effectual 
one it proved, as far as it went) was to give his 
scholars a due knowledge and proper impressions 
concerning it. Situated as they were likely to 
be, in after-life, in a country where slavery was a 
custom, be thus prepared many, and this annually, 
for tbe promotion of his plans. 

To enlighten others, and to give them a similar 
bias, he had recourse to different measures from 
time to time. In tbe almanacs published annually 
in Philadelphia, he procured articles to be inserted, 
which he believed would attract tbe notice of the 
reader, and make him pause, at least for a while, 
as to tbe licitness of the Slave-trade. He wrote, 
also, as he saw occasion, in the public papers of 
the day. From small things he proceeded to 
greater. He collected, at length, further informa- 
tion on the subject, and, winding it up with obser- 
vations, and reflections, he produced several little 
tracts, which he circulated successively (but gen- 
erally at his own expense) as he considered them 
adapted to the temper and circumstances of the 

In the course of this his employment, having 
found some who had approved his tracts and to 
whom, on that account, he wished to write, and 
sending his tracts to others, to whom he thought 
it proper to introduce them by letter, he found 


himself engaged in a correspondence, which much 
engrossed his time, but which proved of great 
importance in procuring many advocates for his 

In the year 1762, when he had obtained a still 
greater store of information, he published a larger 
work. This, however, he entitled, A short Ac- 
count of that Part of Africa inhabited by the Ne- 
groes. In 1767 he published, A Caution and 
Warning to Great Britain and her Colonies, on the 
Calamitous State of the enslaved Negroes in the 
British Dominions: and soon after this, appeared, 
An Historical Account of Guinea, its Situation, 
Produce, and the General Disposition of its Inhabit- 
ants ; with an Inquiry into the Rise and Progress 
of the Slave-trade, its Nature, and Calamitous 
Effects. This pamphlet contained a clear and 
distinct development of the subject, from the best 
authorities. It contained also the sentiments of 
many enlightened men upon it; and it became 
instrumental, beyond any other book ever before 
published, in disseminating a proper knowledge 
and detestation of this trade. 

Anthony Benezet may be considered as one of 
the most zealous, vigilant, and active advocates, 
which the cause of the oppressed Africans ever 
had. He seemed to have been born and to have 
lived for the promotion of it, and therefore he 
never omitted any the least opportunity of serving 
it. If a person called upon him who was going a 
journey, his first thoughts usually were, how he 
could make him an instrument in its favor; and 


he either gave him tracts to distribute, or he sent 
letters by him, or he gave him some commission 
on the subject, so that he was the means of em- 
ploying several persons at the same time, in vari- 
ous parts of America, in advancing the work he 
had undertaken. 

In the same manner he availed himself of every 
other circumstance, as far as he could, to the 
same end. When he heard that Mr. Granville 
Sharp had obtained, in the year 1772, the noble 
verdict in the cause of Somerset the slave, he 
opened a correspondence with him, which he kept 
up, that there might be an union of action between 
them for the future, as far as it could be effected, 
and that they might each give encouragement to 
the other to proceed. 

He opened also a correspondence with George 
Whitfield and John Wesley, that these might as- 
sist him in promoting the cause of the oppressed. 

He wrote also a letter to the Countess of Hun- 
tingdon on the following subject. She had found- 
ed a college, at the recommendation of George 
Whitfield, called the Orphan-house, near Savan- 
nah, in Georgia, and had endowed it. The ob- 
ject of this institution was, to furnish scholastic 
instruction to the poor, and to prepare some of them 
for the ministry. George Whitfield, ever attentive 
to the cause of the poor Africans, thought that 
this institution might have been useful to them 
also ; but soon after his death, they who succeeded 
him bought slaves, and these in unusual numbers, 
to extend the rice and indigo plantations belonging 

vol. i. 12 


to the college. The letter then in question was 
written by Anthony Benezet, in order to lay before 
the Countess, as a religious woman, the misery 
she was occasioning in Africa, by allowing the 
managers of her college in Georgia to give en- 
couragement to the Slave-trade. The Countess, 
replied, that such a measure should never have 
her countenance, and that she would take care 
to prevent it. 

On discovering that the Abbe Raynal had 
brought out his celebrated work, in which he 
manifested a tender feeling in behalf of the in- 
jured Africans, he entered into a correspondence 
with him, hoping to make him yet more useful 
to their cause. 

Finding, also, in the year 1783, that the 
Slave-trade, which had greatly declined during 
the American war, was reviving, he addressed 
a pathetic letter to our Queen, (as I mentioned 
in the last chapter) who, on hearing the high 
character of the writer of it from Benjamin West, 
received it with marks of peculiar condescension 
and attention. The following is a copy of it. 

" To Charlotte Queen of Great Britain. 

" Impressed with a sense of religious duty, 
and encouraged by the opinion generally enter- 
tained of thy benevolent disposition to succor 
the distressed, I take the liberty, very respect- 
fully, to offer to thy perusal some tracts, which, 
I believe faithfully describe the suffering condi- 
tion of many hundred thousands of our fellow- 


creatures of the African race, great numbers of 
whom, rent from every tender connexion in life, 
are annually taken from their native land, to 
endure, in the American islands and plantations, 
a most rigorous and cruel slavery ; whereby many, 
very many of them, are brought to a melancholy 
and untimely end. 

" When it is considered that the inhabitants of 
Great Britain, who are themselves so eminently 
blessed in the enjoyment of religious and civil 
liberty, have long been, and yet are, very deeply 
concerned in this flagrant violation of the com- 
mon rights of mankind, and that even its national 
authority is exerted in support of the African 
Slave-trade, there is much reason to apprehend, 
that this has been, and, as long as the evil ex- 
ists, will continue to be, an occasion of drawing 
down the Divine displeasure on the nation and 
its dependencies. May these considerations in- 
duce thee to interpose thy kind endeavors in be- 
half of this greatly injured people, whose abject 
situation gives them an additional claim to the 
pity and assistance of the generous mind, inas- 
much as they are altogether deprived of the means 
of soliciting effectual relief for themselves ; that 
so thou mayest not only be a blessed instrument 
in the hand of him * by whom kings reign and 
princes decree justice,' to avert the awful judg- 
ments by which the empire has already been so 
remarkably shaken, but that the blessings of 
thousands ready to perish may come upon thee, 
at a time when the superior advantages attendant 


on thy situation in this world will no longer be 
of any avail to thy consolation and support. 

" To the tracts on this subject to which I have 
thus ventured to crave thy particular attention, 
I have added some which at different times I 
have believed it my duty to publish,* and which, 
I trust, will afford thee some satisfaction, their 
design being for the furtherance of that universal 
peace and good will amongst men, which the 
Gospel was intended to introduce. 

" I hope thou wilt kindly excuse the freedom 
used on this occasion by an ancient man, whose 
mind, for more than forty years past, has been 
much separated from the common intercourse of 
the world, and long painfully exercised in the 
consideration of the miseries under which so large 
a part of mankind, equally with us the objects of 
redeeming love, are suffering the most unjust and 
grievous oppression, and who sincerely desires thy 
temporal and eternal felicity, and that of thy royal 

"Anthony Benezet." 

Anthony Benezet, besides the care he bestowed 
upon forwarding the cause of the oppressed Afri- 
cans in different parts of the world, found time to 
promote the comforts and improve the condition 
of those in the state in which he lived. Appre- 
hending that much advantage would arise both 
to them and the public, from instructing them 

* These related to the principles of the religious society of the 


in common learning, he zealously promoted the 
establishment of a school for that purpose. Much 
of the two last years of his life he devoted to a 
personal attendance on this school, being earnest- 
ly desirous that they who came to it might be 
better qualified for the enjoyment of that free- 
dom to which great numbers of them had been 
then restored. To this he sacrificed the superior 
emoluments of his former school, and his bodily 
ease also, although the weakness of his consti- 
tution seemed to demand indulgence. By his 
last will he directed, that, after the decease of his 
widow, his whole little fortune (the savings of the 
industry of fifty years), should, except a few very 
small legacies, be applied to the support of it. 
During his attendance upon it he bad the happi- 
ness to find, (and his situation enabled him to 
make the comparison), that Providence had been 
equally liberal to the Africans in genius and 
talents as to other people. 

After a few days illness, this excellent man 
died at Philadelphia in the spring of 1784. The 
interment of his remains was attended by several 
thousands of all ranks, professions, and parties, 
who united in deploring their loss. The mourn- 
ful procession was closed by some hundreds of 
those poor Africans, who had been personally 
benefited by his labors, and whose behavior on 
the occasion showed the gratitude and affection 
they considered to be due to him as their own 
private benefactor, as well as the benefactor of 
their whole race. 

vol. i. 12* 


Such, then, were the labors of the Quakers, in 
America, of individuals, from 1718 to 1784, and 
of the body at large, from 1696 to 1787, in this 
great cause of humanity and religion. Nor were 
the effects produced from these otherwise than 
corresponding with what might have been ex- 
pected from such an union of exertion in such a 
cause ; for both the evils, that is, the evil of buy- 
ing and selling, and the evil of using, slaves, 
ceased at length with the members of this benevo- 
lent Society. The leaving off all concern with 
the Slave-trade took place first. The abolition of 
slavery, though it followed, was not so speedily 
accomplished ; for, besides the loss of property, 
when slaves were manumitted without any pecu- 
niary consideration in return, their owners had to 
struggle, in making them free, against the laws 
and customs of the times. In Pennsylvania, 
where the law in this respect was the most favor- 
able, the parties wishing to give freedom to a 
slave were obliged to enter into a bond for the 
payment of thirty pounds currency, in case the 
said slave should become chargeable for main- 
tenance. In New Jersey the terms were far less 
favorable, as the estate of the owner remained 
liable to the consequences of misconduct in the 
slave, or even in his posterity. In the southern 
parts of America manumission was not permitted, 
but on terms amounting nearly to a prohibition. 
But, notwithstanding these difficulties, the Qua- 
kers could not be deterred, as they became con- 
vinced of the unlawfulness of holding men in 


bondage^ from doing that which they believed 
to be right. Many liberated their slaves, what- 
ever the consequences were, and some gave the 
most splendid example in doing it, not only by 
consenting, as others did, thus to give up their 
proper ty, and to incur the penalties of manumis- 
sion, but by calculating and giving what was due 
to them, over and above their food and clothingj 
for wages* from the beginning of their slavery 
to the day when their liberation commenced. 
Thus manumission went on, some sacrificing 
more, and others less ; some granting it sooner, 
and others later; till, in the year 17.87, f there 
was not a slave in the possession of an acknowl- 
edged Quaker. 

Having given to the reader the history of the 
third class of forerunners and coadjutors, as it con- 
sisted of the Quakers in America, I am now to 
continue it, as it consisted of an union of these 
with others on the same continent in the year 
1774, in behalf of the African race. To do this I 
shall begin with the causes which led to the pro- 
duction of this great event. 

And in the first place, as example is more 
powerful than precept, we cannot suppose that the 
Quakers could have shown these noble instances 

* One of the brightest instances was that afforded by Warner 
Mifflin. He gave unconditional liberty to his slaves. He paid all 
the adults, on their discharge, the sum, which arbitrators, mutually 
chosen, awarded them. 

t Previously to the year 1787, several of the states had made 
the terms^ of manumission more easy. 


of religious principle, without supposing also that 
individuals of other religious denominations would 
be morally instructed by them. They who lived 
in the neighborhood where they took place, must 
have become acquainted with the motives which 
led to them. Some of them must at least have 
praised the action, though they might not them- 
selves have been ripe to follow the example. 
Nor is it at all improbable that these might be 
led, in the course of the workings of their own 
minds, to a comparison between their own con- 
duct and that of the Quakers on this subject, in 
which they themselves might appear to be less 
worthy in their own eyes. And as there is some- 
times a spirit of rivalship among the individuals 
of religious sects, where the character of one is 
sounded forth as higher than that of another ; 
this, if excited by such a circumstance, would 
probably operate for good. It must have been 
manifest also to many, after a lapse of time, that 
there was no danger in what the Quakers had 
done, and that there was even sound policy in the 
measure. But whatever were the several causes, 
certain it is, that the example of the Quakers in 
leaving off all concern with the Slave-trade, and in 
liberating their slaves (scattered as they were over 
various parts of America) contributed to produce 
in many of a different religious denomination from 
themselves, a more tender disposition than had 
been usual towards the African race. 

But a similar disposition towards these op- 
pressed people was created in others by means of 


other circumstances or causes. In the early part 
of the eighteenth century, Judge Sewell of New 
England came forward as a zealous advocate for 
them. He addressed a memorial to the legisla- 
ture, which he called The Selling of Joseph, and 
in which he pleaded their cause both as a law- 
yer and a Christian. This memorial produced an 
effect upon many, but particularly upon those of 
his own persuasion ; and from this time the Pres- 
byterians appear to have encouraged a sympathy 
in their favor. 

In the year 1739, the celebrated George Whit- 
field became an instrument in turning the atten- 
tion of many others to their hard case, and of be- 
getting in these a fellow sympathy towards them. 
This laborious minister, having been deeply af- 
fected with what he had seen in the course of his 
religious travels in America, thought it his duty 
to address a letter from Georgia to the inhabitants 
of Maryland, Virginia, and North and South Car- 
olina. This letter was printed in the year above 
mentioned, and is in part as follows : — 

" As I lately passed through your provinces in 
my way hither, I was sensibly touched with a 
fellow-feeling for the miseries of the poor Negroes. 
Whether it be lawful for Christians to buy slaves, 
and thereby encourage the nations from whom 
they are bought to be at perpetual war with each 
otker, I shall not take upon me to determine. 
Sure I am it is sinful, when they have bought 
them, to use them as bad as though they were 
brutes, nay worse ; and whatever particular ex- 


ceptions there may be (as I would charitably 
hope there are some), I fear the generality of you. 
who own Negroes, are liable to such a charge ; 
for your slaves, I believe, work as hard, if not 
harder than the horses whereon you ride. These, 
after they have done their work, are fed and taken 
proper care of; but many Negroes when wearied 
with labor in your plantations, have been obliged 
to grind their corn after their return home. Your 
dogs are caressed and fondled at your table ; but 
your slaves, who are frequently styled dogs or 
beasts, have not an equal privilege. They are 
scarce permitted to pick up the crumbs which 
fall from their master's table. Not to mention 
what numbers have been given up to the inhu- 
man usage of cruel taskmasters who, by their un- 
relenting scourges have ploughed their backs, and 
made long furrows, and at length brought them 
even unto death. When passing along I have 
viewed your plantations cleared and cultivated, 
many spacious houses built, and the owners of 
them faring sumptuously every day, my blood has 
frequently almost run cold within me, to consider 
how many of your slaves had neither convenient 
food to eat nor proper raiment to put on, not- 
withstanding most of the comforts you enjoy were 
solely owing to their indefatigable labors." 

The letter, from which this is an extract, pro- 
duced a desirable effect upon many of those who 
perused it, but particularly upon such as began 
to be seriously disposed in these times. And as 
George Whitfield continued a firm friend to the 


poor Africans, never losing an opportunity of 
serving them, he interested, in the course of his 
useful life, many thousands of his followers in 
their favor. 

To this account it may be added, that from 
the year 1762, ministers, who were in the con- 
nection of John Wesley, began to be settled in 
America, and that as these were friends to the 
oppressed Africans also, so they contributed in 
their turn* to promote a softness of feeling towards 
them among those of their own persuasion. 

In consequence then of these and other causes, 
a considerable number of persons of various re- 
ligious denominations had appeared at different 
times in America, besides the Quakers, who, 
though they had not distinguished themselves by 
resolutions and manumissions as religious bodies, 
were yet highly friendly to the African cause. 
This friendly disposition began to manifest itself 
about the year 1770 : for when a few Quakers, as 
individuals, began at that time to form little asso- 
ciations in the middle provinces of North America, 
to discourage the introduction of slaves among 
people in their own neighborhoods, who were not 
of their own Society, and to encourage the manu- 

* It must not be forgotten that the example of the Moravians 
had its influence, also, in directing men to their duty towards these 
oppressed people ; for though, when they visited this part of the 
world for their conversion, they never meddled with the political 
state of things, by recommending it to masters to alter the condi- 
tion of their slaves, as believing religion could give comfort in the 
most abject situations in life, yet they uniformly freed those slaves, 
who came into their own possession. 


mission of those already in bondage, they were 
joined as colleagues by several persons of this de- 
scription,* who co-operated with them in the pro- 
motion of their design. 

This disposition, however, became more mani- 
fest in the year 1772 ; for the House of Burgesses 
of Virginia presented a petition to the King, be- 
seeching his majesty to remove all those restraints 
on his governors of that colony, which inhibited 
their assent to such laws, as might check that in- 
human and impolitic commerce, the Slave-trade : 
and it is remarkable, that the refusal of the British 
government to permit the Virginians to exclude 
slaves from among them by law, was enumerated 
afterwards among the public reasons for separat- 
ing from the mother country. 

But this friendly disposition was greatly in- 
creased in the year 1773, by the literary labors 
of Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia,")* who, I 
believe, is a member of the Presbyterian church. 
For in this year, at the instigation of Anthony 
Benezet, he took up the cause of the oppressed 
Africans in a little work, which he entitled, An 
Address to the Inhabitants of the British Settle- 
ments on the Slavery of the Negroes ; and soon 
afterwards in another, which was a vindication of 

* It then appeared that individuals among those of the church of 
England, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, and others, 
had begun in a few instances to liberate their slaves. 

•J- Dr. Rush has been better known since for his other literary 
works ; such as his Medical Dissertations, his Treatises on the Dis- 
cipline of Schools, Criminal Law, &c. 


the first, in answer to an acrimonious attack by a 
West Indian planter. These publications con- 
tained many new observations. They were writ- 
ten in a polished style ; and while they exhibited 
the erudition and talents, they showed the liber- 
ality and benevolence of the author. Having had 
a considerable circulation, they spread conviction 
among many, and promoted the cause for which 
they had been so laudably undertaken. Of the 
great increase of friendly disposition towards the 
African cause in this very year, we have this re- 
markable proof; that when the Quakers, living 
in East and West Jersey, wished to petition the 
legislature to obtain an act of assembly for the 
more equitable manumission of slaves in that 
province, so many others of different persuasions 
joined them, that the petition was signed by up- 
wards of three thousand persons. 

But in the next year, or in the year 1774,* the 
increased good will towards the Africans became so 
apparent, but more particularly in Pennsylvania, 
where the Quakers were more numerous than in 
any other state, that they, who considered them- 
selves more immediately as the friends of these 
injured people, thought it right to avail themselves 
of it ; and accordingly James Pemberton, one of 
the most conspicuous of the Quakers in Pennsyl- 
vania, and Dr. Rush, one of the most conspicuous 

* In this year, Elhanan Winchester, a supporter of the doctrine 
of universal redemption, turned the attention of .many of his hearers 
to this subject, both by private interference and by preaching ex- 
pressly upon it. 

VOL. I. 13 


of those belonging to the various other religious 
communities in that province, undertook, in con- 
junction with others, the important task of bring- 
ing those into a society who were friendly to this 
cause. In this undertaking they succeeded. And 
hence arose that union of the Quakers with others, 
to which I have been directing the attention of the 
reader, and by which the third class of forerun- 
ners and coadjutors becomes now complete. This 
society, which was confined to Pennsylvania, was 
the first ever formed in America, in which there 
was an union of persons of different religious de- 
nominations in behalf of the African race. 

But this society had scarcely begun to act, when 
the war broke out between England and America, 
which had the effect of checking its operations. 
This was considered as a severe blow upon it. 
But as those things which appear most to our dis- 
advantage, turn out often the most to our benefit, 
so the war, by giving birth to the independence of 
America, was ultimately favorable to its progress* 
For as this contest had produced during its con- 
tinuance, so it left, when it was over, a general 
enthusiasm for liberty. Many talked of little else 
but of the freedom they had gained. These were 
naturally led to the consideration of those among 
them, who were groaning in bondage. They be- 
gan to feel for their hard case. They began to 
think that they should not deserve the new bless- 
ing which they had acquired, if they denied it to 
others. Thus the discussions, which originated in 
this contest, became the occasion of turning the 


attention of many, who might not otherwise have 
thought of it, towards the miserable condition of 
the slaves. 

Nor were writers wanting, who, influenced by 
considerations on the war and the independence 
resulting from it, made their works subservient to 
the same benevolent end. A work, entitled, A 
Serious Address to the Rulers of America on the 
Inconsistency of their Conduct respecting Slavery, 
forming a Contrast between the Encroachments 
of England on American Liberty and American 
Injustice in tolerating Slavery, which appeared in 
1783, was particularly instrumental in producing 
this effect. This excited a more than usual atten- 
tion to the case of these oppressed people, and 
where most of all it could be useful. For the 
author compared in two opposite columns the ani- 
mated speeches and resolutions of the members of 
Congress in behalf of their own liberty with their 
conduct in continuing slavery to others. Hence 
the legislature began to feel the inconsistency of 
the practice ; and so far had the sense of this in- 
consistency spread there, that when the dele- 
gates met from each state, to consider of a federal 
union, there was a desire that the abolition of the 
Slave-trade should be one of the articles in it. 
This was, however, opposed by the delegates from 
North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, 
and Georgia, the five states which had the greatest 
concern in slaves. But even these offered to agree 
to the article, provided a condition was annexed 
to it, (which was afterwards done), that the power 


of such abolition should not commence in the 
legislature till the first of January 1808. 

In consequence then of these different circum- 
stances, the society of Pennsylvania, the object of 
which was " for promoting the abolition of slavery 
and the relief of free Negroes unlawfully held in 
bondage," became so popular, that in the year 1787 
it was thought desirable to enlarge it. Accord- 
ingly several new members were admitted into 
it. The celebrated Dr. Franklin, who had long 
warmly espoused the cause of the injured Afri- 
cans, was appointed president ; James Pemberton 
and Jonathan Penrose were appointed vice-presi- 
dents ; Dr. Benjamin Rush and Tench Coxe, sec- 
retaries ; James Star, treasurer ; William Lewis, 
John D. Coxe, Miers Fisher, and William Rawle, 
counsellors ; Thomas Harrison, Nathan Boys, 
James Whiteall, James Reed, John Todd, Thomas 
Armatt, Norris Jones, Samuel Richards, Francis 
Bayley, Andrew Carson, John Warner, and Jacob 
Shoemaker, Jr., an electing committee ; and 
Thomas Shields, Thomas Parker, John Oldden, 
William Zane, John Warner, and William M'El- 
henny, an acting committee for carrying on the 
purposes of the institution. 

I shall now only observe further upon this sub- 
ject, that as a society, consisting of an union of 
the Quakers, with others of other religious de- 
nominations, was established for Pennsylvania in 
behalf of the oppressed Africans, so different so- 
cieties, consisting each of a similar union of per- 
sons, were established in New York, Connecticut, 


New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and other states 
for the same object, and that these afterwards 
held a correspondence and personal communion 
with each other for the promotion of it. 


Observations on the three classes already introduced.— Coinci- 
dence op extraordinary circumstances. — Individuals in each of 
these classes, who seem to have had an education as it were to 
qualify them for promoting the cause of the abolition — sharp 
and Ramsay in the first — Dillwyn in the second — Femberton and 
Rush in the third. — These, with their respective classes, acted 
on motives of their own, and independently of each other — 
and yet, from circumstances neither foreseen nor known by 
them, they were in the way of being easily united in 1787. — 
William Dillwyn the great medium of connexion between 


If the reader will refer to his recollection, he 
will find, that I have given the history of three 
of the classes of the forerunners and coadjutors in 
the great cause of the abolition of the Slave-trade 
up to the time proposed. He will of course ex- 
pect that I should proceed with the history of the 
fourth. But, as 1 foresee that, by making certain 
observations upon the classes already introduced in 
the present rather than in any future place, I shall 
be able to give him clearer views on the subject, 
I shall postpone the history of the remaining class 
to the next chapter. 

The account, which I shall now give, will ex- 
hibit a concurrence of extraordinary and important 

VOL. I. 13 * 


circumstances. It will show, first, that in each of 
the three classes now introduced, there were indi- 
viduals in the year 1787, who had been educated 
as it were for the purpose of becoming peculiarly 
qualified to act together for the promotion of the 
abolition of the Slave-trade. It will show, second- 
ly, that these, with their respective classes, acted 
upon their own principles, distinctly and independ- 
ently of each other. And, lastly, that by means 
of circumstances, which they themselves had 
neither foreseen nor contrived, a junction between 
them was rendered easily practicable, and that 
it was beginning to take place at the period 

The first class of forerunners and coadjutors 
consisted principally, as it has appeared, of persons 
in England of various descriptions. These, I may 
observe, had no communication with each other 
as to any plan for the abolition of the Slave-trade. 
There were two individuals, however, among 
them, who were more conspicuous than the rest, 
namely, Granville Sharp, the first laborer, and 
Mr. Ramsay, the first controversial writer in the 

That Granville Sharp received an education as 
if to become qualified to unite with others, in the 
year 1787, for this important object, must have 
appeared from the history of his labors, as detailed 
in several of the preceding pages. The same 
may be said of Mr. Ramsay ; for it has already 
appeared that he lived in the island of St. Christo- 
pher, where he made his observations, and studied 


the laws, relative to the treatment of slaves, for 
nineteen years. 

That Granville Sharp acted on grounds distinct 
from those in any of the other classes is certain. 
For he knew nothing at this time either of the 
Quakers in England or of those in America, any 
more than that they existed by name. Had it not 
been for the case of Jonathan Strong, he might 
never have attached himself to the cause. A 
similar account may be given of Mr. Ramsay; for, 
if it had not been for what he had seen in the 
island of St. Christopher, he had never embarked 
in it. It was from scenes, which he had witnessed 
there, that he began to feel on the subject. These 
feelings he communicated to others on his return 
to England, and these urged him into action. 

With respect to the second class, the reader 
will recollect that it consisted of the Quakers in 
England : first, of George Fox ; then of the Qua- 
kers as a body ; then of individuals belonging to 
that body, who formed themselves into a com- 
mittee, independently of it, for the promotion of 
the object in question. This committee, it may be 
remembered, consisted of six persons, of whom one 
was William Dillwyn. 

That William Dillwyn became fitted for the sta- 
tion, which he was afterwards to take, will be seen 
shortly. He was born in America, and was a 
pupil of the venerable Benezet, who took pains 
very early to interest his feelings on this great sub- 
ject. Benezet employed him occasionally, I mean 
in a friendly manner, as his amanuensis, to copy 


his manuscripts for publication, as well as several 
of his letters written in behalf of the cause. This 
gave his scholar an insight into the subject^ who, 
living besides in the land where both the Slave- 
trade and slavery were established, obtained an 
additional knowledge of them, so as to be able to 
refute many of those objections, to which others 
for want of local observation could never have 

In the year 1772, Anthony Benezet introduced 
William Dillwyn by letter to several of the prin- 
cipal people of Carolina, with whom he had him- 
self before corresponded on the sufferings of the 
poor Africans, and desired him to have interviews 
with them on the subject. He charged him 
also to be very particular in making observations 
as to what he should see there. This journey 
was of great use to the latter in fixing him as the 
friend of these oppressed people, for he saw so 
much of their cruel treatment in the course of it, 
that he felt an anxiety ever afterwards, amounting 
to a duty, to do every thing in his power for their 

In the year 1773, William Dillwyn, in conjunc- 
tion with Richard Wells and Daniel Smith, two 
of his own Society, wrote a pamphlet in answer to 
arguments then prevailing, that the manumission 
of slaves would be injurious. This pamphlet, 
which was entitled, Brief Considerations on Sla- 
very, and the Expediency of its Abolition, with 
some Hints on the Means whereby it may be grad- 
ually effected, proved that in lieu of the usual 


security required, certain sums paid at the several 
periods of manumission would amply secure the 
public, as well as the owners of the slaves, from 
any future burdens. In the same year also, when 
the society, joined by several hundreds of others 
in New Jersey, presented a petition to the legisla- 
ture (as mentioned in the former chapter) to 
obtain an act of assembly for the more equitable 
manumission of slaves in that province, William 
Dillwyn was one of a deputation, which was heard 
at the bar of the assembly for that purpose. 

In 1774 he came to England, but his attention 
was still kept alive to the subject. For he was 
the person, by whom Anthony Benezet sent his 
letter to the Countess of Huntingdon, as before 
related. He was also the person, to whom the 
same venerable defender of the African race sent 
his letter before spoken of, to be forwarded to the 

That William Dillwyn and those of his own 
class in England acted upon motives very distinct 
from those of the former class may be said with 
truth, for they acted upon the constitutional prin- 
ciples of their own Society, as incorporated into 
its discipline, which principles would always have 
incited them to the subversion of slavery, as far 
as they themselves were concerned, whether any 
other persons had abolished it or not. To which 
it may be added, as a further proof of the origi- 
nality of their motives, that the Quakers have 
had ever since their institution as a religious body, 
but little intercourse with the world. 


The third class, to which I now come, consisted, 
as we have seen, first of the Quakers in America ; 
and secondly, of an union of these with others on 
the same continent. The principal individuals 
concerned in this union were James Pemberton 
and Dr. Rush. The former of these, having taken 
an active part in several of the yearly meetings of 
his own Society relative to the oppressed Africans, 
and having been in habits of intimacy and friend- 
ship with John Woolman and Anthony Benezet, 
with the result of whose labors he was acquainted, 
may be supposed to have become qualified to take 
a leading station in the promotion of their cause. 
Dr. Rush also had shown himself, as has appeared, 
an able advocate, and had even sustained a con- 
troversy in their favor. That the two last men- 
tioned acted also on motives of their own, or inde- 
pendently of those belonging to the other two 
classes when they formed their association in 
Pennsylvania, will be obvious from these circum- 
stances ; first, that most of those of the first class, 
Who contributed to throw the greatest light and 
odium upon the Slave-trade, had not then made 
their public appearance in the world. And, 
with respect to the second class, the little com- 
mittee belonging to it had neither been formed 
nor thought of. 

And as the individuals in each of the three 
classes, who have now been mentioned, had an 
education as it were to qualify them for acting to- 
gether in this great cause, and had moved inde- 
pendently of each other, so it will appear that, by 


means of circumstances which they themselves 
had neither foreseen nor contrived, a junction be- 
tween them was rendered easily practicable, and 
that it was beginning to take place at the period 

To show this, I must first remind the reader 
that Anthony Benezet, as soon as he heard of the 
result of the case of Somerset, opened a corres- 
pondence with Granville Sharp, which was kept 
up to the encouragement of both. In the year 
1774, when he learned that William Dillwyn was 
going to England, lie gave him letters to that 
gentleman-. Thus one of the most conspicuous of 
the second class was introduced, accidentally as it 
were, to one of the most conspicuous of the first. 
In the year 1775, William Dillwyn went back to 
America, but, on his return to England to settle, 
he renewed his visits to Granville Sharp. Thus 
the connexion was continued. To these observa-. 
tions I may now add ; that Samuel Hoare, of the 
same class as William Dillwyn, had, in conse^ 
quence of the Bishop of Chester's sermon, begun 
a correspondence in 1784, as before mentioned, 
with Mr. Ramsay, who was of the same class as 
Mr. Sharp. Thus four individuals of the two 
first classes were in the way of an union with one 

But circumstances equally natural contributed 
to render an union between the members of the 
second and the third classes easily practicable 
also. For what was more natural than that Wil- 
liam Dillwyn, who was born and who had resided 


long in America, should have connexions there 1 
He had long cultivated a friendship (not then 
knowing to what it would lead) with James 
Pemberton. His intimacy with him was like 
that of a family connexion. They corresponded 
together. They corresponded also as kindred 
hearts, relative to the Slave-trade. Thus two 
members of the second and third classes had 
opened an intercourse on the subject, and thus 
was William Dillwyn the great medium, through 
whom the members of the two classes now 
mentioned, as well as the members of all the 
three might be easily united also, if a fit occasion 
should offer. 


Fourth class of forerunners and coadjutors up to 1787. — Dr. 
Peckard, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, the 
first of these — gives out the slave-trade as the subject for 
one of the annual prizes. — author writes and obtains the first 
of these. — Reads his Dissertation in the Senate-house in the 
summer of 1785. — His feelings on the subject during his return 
home. — Is desirous of aiding the cause of the Africans, but sees 


Phillips, who introduces him to W. Dillwyn, the connecting 


Sharp, and Mr. Ramsay — and to R. Phillips. 

I proceed now to the fourth class of forerun- 
ners and coadjutors up to the year 1787, in the 
great cause of the abolition of the Slave-trade. 


The first of these was Dr. Peckard, This gen* 
tleman had distinguished himself in the earlier 
part of his life by certain publications on the inter- 
mediate state of the soul, and by others in favor 
of civil and religious liberty. To the latter cause 
he was a warm friend, seldom omitting any oppor- 
tunity of declaring his sentiments in its favor. 
In the course of his preferment he was appointed 
by Sir John Griffin, afterwards Lord Howard, of 
Walden, to the mastership of Magdalen College 
in the University of Cambridge. In this high 
office he considered it to be his duty to support 
those doctrines which he had espoused when in 
an inferior station ; and accordingly, when in the 
year 1784, it devolved upon him to preach a ser- 
mon before the University of Cambridge, he chose 
his favorite subject, in the handling of which he 
took an opportunity of speaking of the Slave- 
trade in the following nervous manner : — 

" Now, whether we consider the crime, with 
respect to the individuals concerned in this most 
barbarous and cruel traffic, or whether we consider 
it as patronized and encouraged by the laws of the 
land, it presents to our view an equal degree of 
enormity. A crime, founded on a dreadful pre- 
eminence in wickedness : a crime which, being 
both of individuals and the nation, must some 
time draw down upon us the heaviest judgment 
of Almighty God, who made of one blood ail the 
sons of men, and who gave to all equally a natural 
right to liberty j. and who, ruling all the kingdoms 
of the earth with equal providential justice, can- 
vol i. 14 


not suffer such deliberate, such monstrous iniquity, 
to pass long unpunished." 

But Dr. Peckard did not consider this delivery 
of his testimony, though it was given before a 
learned and religious body, as a sufficient discharge 
of his duty, while any opportunity remained of 
renewing it with effect. And, as such an one 
offered in the year 1785, when he was vice-chan- 
cellor of the University, he embraced it. In con- 
sequence of his office, it devolved upon him to 
give out two subjects for Latin dissertations, one 
to the middle bachelors, and the other to the senior 
bachelors of arts. They who produced the best 
were to obtain the prizes. To the latter, he pro- 
posed the following: " Anne liceat Invitos in Ser- 
vitutem dare ?" or, " Is it right to make slaves of 
others against their will'?" 

This circumstance of giving out the subjects for 
the prizes, though only an ordinary measure, be- 
came the occasion of my own labors, or of the 
real honor which I feel in being able to consider 
myself as the next coadjutor of this class in the 
cause of the injured Africans. For it happened 
in this year that, being of the order of senior bach- 
elors, I became qualified to write. I had gained 
a prize for the best Latin dissertation in the former 
year, and, therefore, it was expected that I should 
obtain one in the present, or I should be considered 
as having lost my reputation both in the eyes of 
the University and of my own College. It had 
happened also, that I had been honored with the 


first of the prizes* in that year, and therefore it 
was expected again, that I should obtain the first 
on this occasion. The acquisition of the second, 
however honorable, would have been considered 
as a falling off, or as a loss of former fame. I felt 
myself, therefore, particularly called upon to main- 
tain my post. And, with feelings of this kind, 1 
began to prepare myself for the question. 

In studying the thesis, I conceived it to point 
directly to the African Slave-trade, and more par- 
ticularly as I knew that Dr. Peckard, in the ser- 
mon which I have mentioned, had pronounced so 
warmly against it. At any rate, I determined to 
give it this construction. But, alas ! I was wholly 
ignorant of this subject ; and, what was unfortun- 
ate, a few weeks only were allowed for the com- 
position. I was determined, however, to make the 
best use of my time. I got access to the manu- 
script papers of a deceased friend, who had been in 
the trade. I was acquainted also with several 
officers who had been in the West Indies, and 
from these I gained something. But I still felt 
myself at a loss for materials, and I did not know 
where to get them ; when going by accident into 
a friend's house, I took up a newspaper then lying 
on his table. One of the articles, which attracted 
my notice, was an advertisement of Anthony Ben- 
ezet's Historical Account of Guinea. I soon left 
my friend and his paper, and, to lose no time, 

* There are two prizes on each subject, one for the best and the 
other for the second-best essays. 


hastened to London to buy it. In this precious 
book I found almost all I wanted. I obtained, by 
means of -it a knowledge of, and gained access to, 
the great authorities of Adanson, Moor, Barbot, 
Smith, Bosnian, and others. It was of great con- 
sequence to know what these persons had said 
upon this subject. For, having been themselves 
either long resident in Africa, or very frequently 
there, their knowledge of it could not be questioned. 
Having been concerned also in the trade, it was 
not likely that they would criminate themselves 
more than they could avoid. Writing too at a 
time, when the abolition was not even thought of, 
they could not have been biased with any view to 
that event. And, lastly, having been dead many 
years, they could not have been influenced, as liv- 
ing evidences may be supposed to have been, either 
to conceal or to exaggerate, as their own interest 
might lead them, either by being concerned in the 
continuance of the trade, or by supporting the 
opinions of those of their patrons in power, who 
were on the different sides of this question. 

Furnished then in this manner, I began my 
work. But no person can tell the severe trial, 
which the writing of it proved to me. I had ex- 
pected pleasure from the invention of the argu- 
ments, from the arrangement of them, from the 
putting of them together, and from the thought in 
the interim that I was engaged in an innocent con- 
test for literary honor. But all my pleasure was 
damped by the facts which were now continually 
before me. It was but one gloomy subject from 


morning to night. In the day-time I was uneasy. 
In the night I had little rest. I sometimes never 
closed my eyelids for grief. It became now not 
so much a. trial for academical reputation, as for 
the production of a work, which might be useful 
to injured Africa. And keeping this idea in my 
mind ever after the perusal of Benezet, I always 
slept with a candle in my room, that I might rise 
out of bed and put down such thoughts as might 
occur to me in the night, if I judged them valua- 
ble, conceiving that no arguments of any moment 
should be lost in so great a cause. Having at 
length finished this painful task, I sent my Essay 
to the vice-chancellor, and soon afterwards found 
myself honored as before, with the first prize. 

As it is usual to read these essays publicly in 
the senate-house soon after the prize is adjudged, 
I was called to Cambridge for this purpose. I 
went and performed my office. On returning how- 
ever to London, the subject of it almost wholly 
engrossed my thoughts. I became at times very 
seriously affected while upon the road. I stopped 
my horse occasionally, and dismounted and walk- 
ed. I frequently tried to persuade myself in these 
intervals that the contents of my Essay could not 
be true. The more however I reflected upon 
them, or rather upon the authorities on which they 
were founded, the more I gave them credit. Com- 
ing in sight of Wades Mill in Hertfordshire, I sat 
down disconsolate on the turf by the road-side 
and held my horse. Here a thought came into 
my mind, that if the contents of the Essay were 

vol. i. 14* 


true, it was time some person should see these 
calamities to their end. Agitated in this manner 
I reached home. This was in the summer of 

In the course of the autumn of the same year I 
experienced similar impressions. I walked fre- 
quently into the woods, that I might think on the 
subject in solitude, and find relief to my mind 
there. But there the question still recurred, 
" Are these things true V 9 Still the answer fol- 
lowed as instantaneously " They are." Still the 
result accompanied it, " Then surely some person 
should interfere." I then began to envy those 
who had seats in parliament, and who had great 
riches, and widely extended connexions, which 
would enable them to take up this cause. Find- 
ing scarcely any one at that time who thought of 
it, I was turned frequently to myself. But here 
many difficulties arose. It struck me, among 
others, that a young man of only twenty-four years 
of age could not have that solid judgment, or 
knowledge of men, manners, and things, which 
were requisite to qualify him to undertake a task 
of such magnitude and importance; and with 
whom was I to unite? I believed also that it 
looked so much like one of the feigned labors of 
Hercules, that my understanding would be sus- 
pected if I proposed it. On ruminating however 
on the subject, I found one thing at least practi- 
cable, and that this also was in my power. I 
could translate my Latin dissertation. I could 
enlarge it usefully. I could see how the public 


received it, or how far they were likely to favor 
any serious measures, which should have a ten- 
dency to produce the abolition of the Slave-trade. 
Upon this then I determined : and in the middle 
of the month of November 1785, I began my 

By the middle of January, I had finished half 
of it, though I had made considerable additions. 
I now thought of engaging with some bookseller 
to print it when finished. For this purpose I call- 
ed upon Mr. Cadell, in the Strand, and consulted 
him about it. He said, that as the original Essay 
had been honored by the University of Cambridge 
with the first prize, this circumstance would en* 
sure it a respectable circulation among persons of 
taste. I own I was not much pleased with his 
opinion. I wished the Essay to find its way 
among useful people, and among such as would 
think and act with me. Accordingly I left Mr. 
Cadell, after having thanked him for his civility, 
and determined, as I thought I had time sufficient 
before dinner, to call upon a friend in the city. 
In going past the Royal Exchange, Mr. Joseph 
Hancock, one of the religious society of the Qua- 
kers, and with whose family my own had been 
long united in friendship, suddenly met me. He 
first accosted me by saying that I was the person, 
whom he was wishing to see. He then asked 
me why I had not published my Prize Essay. I 
asked him in return what had made him think of 
that subject in particular. He replied, that his 
own Society had long taken it up as a religious 


body, and individuals among them were wish- 
ing- to find me out. I asked him who. He an- 
swered, James Phillips, a bookseller, in George- 
yard, Lombard-street, and William Dillwyn, of 
Walthamstow, and others. Having but little time 
to spare, I desired him to introduce me to one of 
them. In a few minutes he took me to James 
Phillips, who was then the only one of them in 
town : by whose conversation I was so much in- 
terested and encouraged, that without any further 
hesitation I offered him the publication of my work. 
This accidental introduction of me to James Phil- 
lips was, I found afterwards, a most happy circum- 
stance for the promotion of the cause, which I 
had then so deeply at heart, as it led me to the 
knowledge of several of those, who became after- 
wards material coadjutors in it. It was also of 
great importance to me with respect to the work 
itself. For he possessed an acute penetration, a 
solid judgment, and a literary knowledge, which 
he proved by the many alterations and additions 
he proposed, and which I believe I uniformly 
adopted, after mature consideration, from a sense 
of their real value. It was advantageous to me 
also, inasmuch as it led me to his friendship, 
which was never interrupted but by his death. 

On my second visit to James Phillips, at which 
time I brought him about half my manuscript for 
the press, I desired him to introduce me to Wil- 
liam Dillwyn, as he also had mentioned him to me 
on my first visit, and as I had not seen Mr. Han- 
cock since. Matters were accordingly arranged, 


and a day appointed before I left him. On this 
day I had my first interview with my new friend. 
Two or three others of his own religious society 
were present, but who they were I do not now re- 
collect. There seemed to be a great desire among 
them to know the motive by which I had been 
actuated in contending for the prize. I told them 
frankly, that I had no motive but that which 
other young men in the University had on such 
occasions; namely, the wish of being distinguish- 
ed, or of obtaining literary honor ; but that I had 
felt so deeply on the subject of it, that I had lately 
interested myself in it from a motive of duty. My 
conduct seemed to be highly approved by those 
present, and much conversation ensued, but it was 
of a general nature. 

As William Dillwyn wished very much to see 
me at his house at Walthamstow, I appointed the 
thirteenth of March to spend the day with him 
there. We talked for the most part, during my 
stay, on the subject of my Essay. I soon discov- 
ered the treasure I had met with in his local knowl- 
edge, both of the Slave-trade and of slavery, as 
they existed in the United States, and I gained 
from him several facts, which with his permission 
I afterwards inserted in my work. But how sur* 
prised was I to hear in the course of our conver- 
sation of the labors of Granville Sharp, of the 
writings of Ramsay, and of the controversy in 
which the latter was engaged, of all which I had 
hitherto known nothing ! How surprised was I to 
learn, that William Dillwyn himself, had two years 


before associated himself with five others lor the 
purpose of enlightening the public mind upon this 
great subject ! How astonished was I to find that 
a society had been formed in America for the 
same object, with some of the principal members 
of which he was intimately acquainted! And how 
still more astonished at the inference which in- 
stantly rushed upon my mind, that he was capable 
of being made the great medium of connexion 
between them all. These thoughts almost over- 
powered me. I believe that after this I talked 
but little more to my friend. My mind was over- 
whelmed with the thought that I had been provi- 
dentially directed to his house ; that the finger of 
Providence was beginning to be discernible; that 
the day-star of African liberty was rising, and that 
probably I might be permitted to become a hum- 
ble instrument in promoting it. 

In the course of attending to my work, as now 
in the press, James Phillips introduced me also to 
Granville Sharp, with whom I had afterwards 
many interesting interviews from time to time, 
and whom I discovered to be a distant relation by 
my father's side. 

He introduced me also by letter to a corres- 
pondence with Mr. Ramsay, who in a short time 
afterwards came to London to see me. 

He introduced me also to his cousin, Richard 
Phillips of Lincoln's Inn, who was at that time 
on the point of joining the religious society of the 
Quakers. In him I found much sympathy, and a 
willingness to co-operate with me; When dull 


and disconsolate, he encouraged me. When in 
spirits, he stimulated me further. Him I am now 
to mention as a new, but soon afterwards as an 
active and indefatigable coadjutor in the cause. 
But I shall say more concerning him in a future 
chapter. I shall only now add, that my work was 
at length printed ; that it was entitled, An Essay 
on the Slavery and Commerce of the human 
Species, particularly the African, translated from 
a Latin Dissertation, which was honored with the 
First Prize in the University of Cambridge, for 
the year 1785 ; with Additions ; and that it was 
ushered into the world in the month of June 1786, 
or in about a year after it had been read in the 
Senate-house in its first form. 


Continuation of the fourth class of forerunners and coadjutors 
up to 1787 — Bennet Langton — Dr. Baker— Lord and Lady Scars- 
dale. — Author visits Ramsay at Teston — Lady Middleton and 
Sir Charles (now Lord Barham). — Author declares himself at 
the house of the latter ready now to devote himself to the 
cause — reconsiders this declaration or pledge — his reasoning- 
and struggle upon it^persists in it — returns to london — and 
pursues the work as now a business of his life. 

I had purposed, as I said before, when I deter- 
mined to publish my Essay, to wait to see how the 
world would receive it, or what disposition there 
would be in the public to favor my measures for 
the abolition of the Slave-trade. But the convex 


sation, which I had held on the thirteenth of 
March with William Dillwyn, continued to make 
such an impression upon me, that I thought now 
there could be no occasion for waiting for such a 
purpose. It seemed now only necessary to go 
forward. Others I found had already begun the 
work. I had been thrown suddenly among these, 
as into a new world of friends. I believed also 
that a way was opening under Providence for 
support. And I now thought that nothing re- 
mained for me but to procure as many coadjutors 
as I could. 

I had long had the honor of the friendship of 
Mr. Bennet Langton, and I determined to carry 
him one of my books, and to interest his feelings 
in it, with a view of procuring his assistance in 
the cause. Mr. Langton was a gentleman of an 
ancient family, and respectable fortune in Lincoln- 
shire, but resided then in Qneen's-square, West- 
minster. He was known as the friend of Dr. 
Johnson, Jonas Hanway, Edmund Burke, Sir 
Joshua Reynolds, and others. Among his ac- 
quaintance indeed were most of the literary, and 
eminent professional, and public-spirited men of 
the times, At court also he was well known, and 
had the esteem of his present majesty, with whom 
he frequently conversed. His friends were nu- 
merous also in both houses of the legislature. As 
to himself, he was much noted for his learning, 
but most of all for the great example he gave 
with respect to the usefulness and integrity of 
his life. 


By introducing my work to the sanction of a 
friend of such high character and extensive con- 
nexions, I thought I should be doing great things. 
And so the event proved. For when I went to 
him after he had read it, I found that it had made 
a deep impression upon his mind. As a friend to 
humanity he lamented over -the miseries of the 
oppressed Africans, and over the crimes of their 
tyrants as a friend to morality and religion. He 
cautioned me, however, against being too san- 
guine in my expectations, as so many thousands 
were interested in continuing the trade. Justice, 
however, which he said weighed with him beyond 
all private or political interest, demanded a public 
inquiry, and he would assist me to the utmost 
of his power in my attempts towards it. From 
this time he became a zealous and active coadju- 
tor in the cause, and continued so to the end of 
his valuable life. 

The next person, to whom I gave my work with 
a like view, was Dr. Baker, a clergyman of the 
Establishment, and with whom I had been in 
habits of intimacy for some time. Dr. Baker was 
a learned and pious man. He had performed the 
duties of his profession from the time of his initia- 
tion into the church in an exemplary manner, 
not only by paying a proper attention to the cus- 
tomary services, but by the frequent visitation of 
the sick and the instruction of the poor. This he 
had done too to admiration in a particularly ex- 
tensive parish. At the time I knew him he had 
May-fair chapel, of which an unusual portion of 

VOL. I. 15 


the congregation consisted then of persons of rank 
and fortune. With most of these he had a per- 
sonal acquaintance. This was of great import- 
ance to me in the promotion of my views. Hav- 
ing left him my book for a month, 1 called upon 
him. The result was that which I expected from 
so good a man. He did not wait for me to ask 
him for his co-operation, but he offered his services 
in any way which I might think most eligible, 
feeling it his duty, as he expressed it, to become 
an instrument in exposing such a complication of 
guilt and misery to the world. Dr. Baker became 
from this time an active coadjutor also, and con- 
tinued so to his death. 

The person, to whom I sent my work next, was 
the late lord Scarsdale, whose family I had known 
for about two years. Both he and his lady read 
it with attention. They informed me, after the 
perusal of it, that both of them were desirous of 
assisting me in promoting the cause of the poor 
Africans. Lady Scarsdale lamented that she 
might possibly offend near and dear connexions, 
who had interests in the West Indies, by so do- 
ing ; but that conscious of no intention to offend 
these, and considering the duties of religion to be 
the first to be attended to, she should be pleased 
to become useful in so good a cause. Lord Scars- 
dale also assured me, that, if the subject should 
ever come before the House of Lords, it should 
have his constant support. 

While attempting to make friends in this man- 
ner, I received a letter from Mr. Ramsay, with an 


invitation to spend a month at his house at Teston, 
near Maidstone in Kent. This I accepted, that I 
might communicate to him the progress I had 
made, that I might gain more knowledge from 
him on the subject, and that 1 might acquire new 
strength and encouragement to proceed. On 
hearing my account of my proceedings, which I 
detailed to him on the first evening of our meeting, 
he seemed almost overpowered with joy. He said 
he had been long of opinion, that the release of 
the Africans from the scourges of this cruel trade, 
was within the determined views of Providence, 
and that by turning the public attention to their 
misery, we should be the instruments of beginning 
the good work. He then informed me how long he 
himself had had their cause at heart ; that com- 
municating his feelings to Sir Charles Middleton 
(now Lord Barham) and his lady, the latter had 
urged him to undertake a work in their behalf ; 
that her importunities were great respecting it ; 
and that he had on this account, and in obedience 
also to his own feelings, as has been before men- 
tioned, begun it ; but that, foreseeing the censure 
and abuse, which such a subject, treated in any 
possible manner, must bring upon the author, he 
had laid it aside for some time. He had, how- 
ever, resumed it at the solicitation of Dr. Porteus, 
then bishop of Chester, after which, in the year 
1784, it made its appearance in the world. 

I was delighted with this account on the first 
evening of my arrival ; but more particularly as I 
collected from it, that I might expect in the bishop 


of Chester and Sir Charles Middleton, two new 
friends to the cause. This expectation was after- 
wards fully realized, as the reader will see in its 
proper place. But I was still more delighted, 
when I was informed that Sir Charles and Lady 
Middleton, with Mrs. Bouverie, lived at Teston- 
hall, in a park, which was but a few yards from 
the house in which I then was. In the morning I 
desired an introduction to them, which accord- 
ingly took place, and I found myself much en- 
couraged and supported by this visit. 

It is not necessary, nor indeed is there room, 
to detail my employments in this village, or the 
lonely walks I took there, or the meditations of my 
mind at such seasons. I will therefore come at 
once to a particular occurrence. When at dinner 
one day with the family at Teston-hall, I was 
much pleased with the turn which the conversa- 
tion had taken on the subject, and in the joy of my 
heart, I exclaimed that, " I was ready to devote 
myself to the cause." This brought great com- 
mendation from those present ; and Sir Charles 
Middleton added, that if I wanted any information 
in the course of my future inquiries relative to 
Africa, which he could procure me as comptroller 
of the navy, such as extracts from the journals of 
the ships of war to that continent, or from other 
papers, I should have free access to his office. This 
offer I received with thankfulness, and it operated 
as a new encouragement to me to proceed. 

The next morning, when I awoke, one of the 
first things that struck me was, that I had given a 


pledge to the company the day before, that I would 
devote myself to the cause of the oppressed Afri- 
cans. I became a little uneasy at this. I ques- 
tioned whether I had considered matters suffi- 
ciently to be able to go so far with propriety. I 
determined therefore to give the subject a full 
consideration, and accordingly I walked to the 
place of my usual meditations, the woods. 

Having now reached a place of solitude, I be- 
gan to balance every thing on both sides of the 
question. I considered first, that I had not yet 
obtained information sufficient on the subject, to 
qualify me for the undertaking of such a work. 
But I reflected, on the other hand, that Sir Charles 
Middleton had just opened to me a new source of 
knowledge ; that I should be backed by the local 
information of Dillwyn and Ramsay, and that 
surely, by taking pains, I cou]d acquire more. 

I then considered, that I bad not yet a sufficient 
number of friends to support me. This occasioned 
me to review them. I had now Sir Charles 
Middleton, who was in the House of Commons. 
I was sure of Dr. Porteus, who was in the House 
of Lords. I could count upon Lord Scarsdale, 
who was a peer also. 1 had secured Mr. Langton, 
who had a most extensive acquaintance with mem- 
bers of both houses of the legislature. I had also 
secured Dr. Baker, who had similar connexions. 
I could depend upon Granville Sharp, James Phil- 
lips, Richard Phillips, Ramsay, Dillwyn, and the 
little committee to which he belonged, as well as 
the whole society of the Quakers. I thought 

VOL. I. 15* 


therefore upon the whole, that, considering the 
short time I had been at work, I was well off 
with respect to support. I believed also that 
there were still several of my own acquaintance, 
whom I could interest in the question, and I did 
not doubt that, by exerting myself diligently, 
persons, who were then strangers to me, would be 
raised up in time. 

I considered next, that it was impossible for 
a great cause like this to be forwarded without 
large pecuniary funds. I questioned whether some 
thousand pounds would not be necessary, and from 
whence was such a sum to come 1 In answer to 
this, I persuaded myself that generous people 
would be found, who would unite with me in con- 
tributing their mite towards the undertaking, and 
I seemed confident that, as the Quakers had taken 
up the cause as a religious body, they would not 
be behind hand in supporting it. 

I considered lastly, that, if I took up the ques- 
tion, I must devote myself wholly to it. I was 
sensible that a little labor now and then would be 
inadequate to the purpose, or that, where the in- 
terests of so many thousand persons were likely 
to be affected, constant exertion would be neces- 
sary. I felt certain that, if ever the matter were 
to be taken up, there could be no hope of success, 
except it should be taken up by some one, who 
would make it an object or business of his life. 
I thought too that a man's life might not be more 
than adequate to the accomplishment of the end. 
But I knew of no one who could devote such a por- 


tion of time to it. Sir Charles Middleton, though 
he was so warm and zealous, was greatly occupied 
in the discharge of his office. Mr. Langton spent 
a great portion of his time in the education of his 
children. Dr. Baker had a great deal to do in the 
performance of his parochial duty. The Quakers 
were almost all of them in trade. I could look 
therefore to no person but myself ; and the ques- 
tion was, whether I was prepared to make the 
sacrifice. In favor of the undertaking I urged 
to myself, that never was any cause, which had 
been taken up by man in any country or in any 
age, so great and important ; that never was there 
one in which so much misery was heard to cry 
for redress ; that never was there one, in which so 
much good could be done ; never one, in which 
the duty of Christian charity could be so exten- 
sively exercised ; never one, more worthy of the 
devotion of a whole life towards it ; and that, if a 
man thought properly, he ought to rejoice to have 
been called into existence, if he were only permit- 
ted to become an instrument in forwarding it in 
any part of its progress. Against these sentiments 
on the other hand I had to urge, that I had been 
designed for the church ; that I had already ad- 
vanced as far as deacon's orders in it ; that my 
prospects there on account of my connexions were 
then brilliant ; that, by appearing to desert my 
profession, my family Would be dissatisfied, if not 
unhappy. These thoughts pressed upon me, and 
rendered the conflict difficult. But the sacrifice 
of my prospects staggered me, I own, the most* 


When the other objections, which I have related, 
occurred to me, my enthusiasm instantly, like a 
flash of lightning, consumed them : but this stuck 
to me, and troubled me. 1 had ambition. I had 
a thirst after worldly interest and honors, and I 
could not extinguish it at once. I was more than 
two hours in solitude under this painful conflict. 
At length I yielded, not because I saw any reason- 
able prospect of success in my new undertaking, 
(for all cool headed and cool hearted men would 
have pronounced against it,) but in obedience, I 
believe, to a higher Power. And this I can say, 
that both on the moment of this resolution, and 
for some time afterwards, I had more sublime 
and happy feelings than at any former period of 
my life. 

Having now made up my mind on the subject, 
I informed Mr. Ramsay, that in a few days I 
should be leaving Teston, that I might begin my 
labors, according to the pledge I had given him. 



Continuation of the fourth class of forerunners and coadjutors 
up to 1787. — Author resolves upon the distribution of his book. — 
Mr. Sheldon — Sir Herbert Mackworth — Lord Newhaven — Lord 
Balgonie (now Leven) — Lord Hawke — Bishop Porteus. — Author 
visits African vessels in the Thames — and various persons for 
further information.— Visits also members of Parliament — Sir 
Richard Hill— Mr. Powys (late Lord Lilford) — Mr. Wilberforce 
and others — Conduct of the latter on this occasion. 

On my return to London, I called upon William 
Dillwyn, to inform him of the resolution I had 
made at Teston, and found him at his town lodg- 
ings in the Poultry. I informed him also, that I 
had a letter of introduction in my pocket from 
Sir Charles Middleton to Samuel Hoare, with 
whom I was to converse on the subject. The 
latter gentleman had interested himself the year 
before as one of the committee for the black poor 
in London, whom Mr. Sharp was sending under 
the auspices of government to Sierra Leone. He 
was also, as the reader may see by looking back, 
a member of the second class of coadjutors, or 
of the little committee which had branched out 
of the Quakers in England as before described. 
William Dillwyn said he would go with me and 
introduce me himself. On our arrival in Lombard- 
street, I saw my new friend, with whom we con- 
versed for some time. From thence I proceeded* 
accompanied by both, to the house of James Phil- 
lips in George-yard, to whom 1 was desirous o& 


communicating my resolution also. We found 
him at home, conversing with a friend of the 
same religious society, whose name was Joseph 
Gurney Bevan. I then repeated my resolution 
before them all. We had much friendly and satis- 
factory conversation together. I received much 
encouragement on every side, and I fixed to meet 
them again at the place where we then were in 
three days. 

On the evening of the same day 1 waited upon 
Granville Sharp to make the same communica- 
tion to him. He received it with great pleasure, 
and he hoped I should have strength to proceed. 
From thence I went to the Baptist-head coffee- 
house, in Chancery-lane, and having engaged 
with the master of the house, that I should always 
have one private room to myself when 1 wanted 
it, I took up my abode there, in order to be near 
my friend Richard Phillips of Lincoln's Inn, from 
whose advice and assistance I had formed con- 
siderable expectations. 

The first matter for our deliberation, after we 
had thus become neighbors, was Avhat plan I ought 
to pursue to give effect to the resolution I had 

After having discussed the matter two or three 
times at his chambers, it seemed to be our opin- 
ion, That as members of the legislature could do 
more to the purpose in this question than any 
other persons, it would be proper to circulate all 
the remaining copies of my work among these, in 
order that they might thus obtain information 


upon the subject. Secondly, That it would be 
proper that I should wait personally upon several 
of these also. And thirdly, That I should be 
endeavoring in the interim to enlarge my own 
knowledge, that I might thus be enabled to answer 
the various objections, which might be advanced 
on the other side of the question, as well as be- 
come qualified to be a manager of the cause. 

On the third day, or at the time appointed, I 
went with Richard Phillips to George-yard, Lom- 
bard-street, where I met all my friends as before. 
I communicated to them the opinion we had 
formed at Lincoln's Inn, relative to my future 
proceedings in the three different branches as now 
detailed. They approved the plan. On desiring 
a number of my books to be sent to me at my 
new lodgings for the purpose of distribution, 
Joseph Gurney Bevan, who was stated to have 
been present at the former interview, seemed 
uneasy, and at length asked me if I was going 
to distribute these at my own expense. I re- 
plied, I was. He appealed immediately to those 
present whether it ought to be allowed. He 
asked whether, when a young man was giving 
up his time from morning till night, they, who 
applauded his pursuit and seemed desirous of 
co-operating with him, should allow him to make 
such a sacrifice, or whether they should not at 
least secure him from loss ; and he proposed 
directly that the remaining part of the edition 
should be taken off by subscription, and in order 
that my feelings might not be hurt from any sup* 


posed stain arising from the thought of gaining 
any thing by such a proposal, they should be paid 
for only at the prime cost. I felt myself much 
obliged to him for this tender consideration about 
me, and particularly for the latter part of it, under 
which alone I accepted the offer. Samuel Hoare 
was charged with the management of the sub- 
scription, and the books were to be distributed as 
I had proposed, and in any way which I myself 
might prescribe. 

This matter having been determined upon, my 
first care was that the books should be put into 
proper hands. Accordingly I went round among 
my friends from day to day, wishing to secure 
this before I attended to any of the other objects. 
In this I was much assisted by my friend Richard 
Phillips. Mr. Langton began the distribution of 
them. He made a point either of writing to or 
of calling upon those, to whom he sent them. 
Dr. Baker took the charge of several for the same 
purpose. Lord and Lady Scarsdale of others. 
Sir Charles and Lady Middleton of others. Mr. 
Sheldon, at the request of Richard Phillips, intro- 
duced me by letter to several members of parlia- 
ment, to whom I wished to deliver them myself. 
Sir Herbert Mackworth, when spoken to by the 
latter, offered his services also. He seemed to be 
particularly interested in the cause. He went 
about to many of his friends in the House of Com- 
mons, and this from day to day, to procure their 
favor towards it. Lord Newhaven was applied 
to, and distributed some. Lord Balgonie (now 


Leven), took a similar charge. The late Lord 
Hawke, who told me that he had long felt for the 
sufferings of the injured Africans, desired to be 
permitted to take his share of the distribution 
among members of the House of Lords, and Dr. 
Porteus, now bishop of London, became another 
coadjutor in the same work. 

This distribution of my books having been con- 
signed to proper hands, I began to qualify myself, 
by obtaining further knowledge, for the manage- 
ment of this great cause. As 1 had obtained the 
principal part of it from reading, I thought I ought 
now to see what could be seen, and to know from 
living persons what could be known, on the sub- 
ject, with respect to the first of these points, the 
river Thames presented itself as at hand. Ships 
were going occasionally from the port of London 
to Africa, and why could I not get on board them 
and examine for myself 1 After diligent inquiry, 
I heard of one which had just arrived. I found 
her to be a little wood vessel, called the Live- 
ly, captain Williamson, or one which traded to 
Africa in the natural productions of the country, 
such as ivory, beeswax, Malaguetta pepper, palm- 
oil, and dyewoods. I obtained specimens of some 
of these, so that 1 now became possessed of some 
of those things of which I had only read before. 
On conversing with the mate, he showed me one 
or two pieces of the cloth made by the natives, 
and from their own cotton. L prevailed upon 
him to sell me a piece of each. Here new feel- 
ings arose, and particularly when I considered that 

VOL. I. 16 


persons of so much apparent ingenuity, and capa- 
ble of such beautiful work as the Africans, should 
be made slaves, and reduced to a level with the 
brute creation. My reflections here on the better 
use which might be made of Africa by the substi- 
tution of another trade, and on the better use 
which might be made of her inhabitants, served 
greatly to animate, and to sustain me amidst the 
labor of my pursuits. 

The next vessel I boarded was the Fly, captain 
Colley : Here I found myself for the first time on 
the deck of a slave-vessel. The sight of the 
rooms below and of the gratings above, and of 
the barricado across the deck, and the explanation 
of the uses of ail these, filled me both with mel- 
ancholy and horror. I found soon afterwards a 
fire of indignation kindling within me. I had 
now scarce patience to talk with those on board. 
I had not the coolness this first time to go leisurely 
over the places that were open tome. I got away 
quickly. But that which I thought I saw horrible 
in this vessel had the same effect upon me as that 
which I thought I had seen agreeable in the other, 
namely, to animate and to invigorate me in my 

But I will not trouble the reader with any fur- 
ther account of my water-expeditions, while at- 
tempting to perfect my knowledge on this subject. 
I was equally assiduous in obtaining intelligence 
wherever it could be had; and being now always 
on the watch, I was frequently falling in with in- 
dividuals, from whom I gained something. My 


object was to see all who had been in Africa, but 
more particularly those who had never been in- 
terested, or who at any rate were not then inter- 
ested, in the trade. I gained accordingly access 
very early to general Rooke ; to lieutenant Dal- 
rymple, of the army ; to captain Fiddes, of the 
engineers ; to the reverend Mr. Newton ; to Mr. 
Nisbett, a surgeon in the Minories ; to Mr. De- 
vaynes, who was then in parliament, and to many 
others ; and I made it a rule to put down in writ- 
ing, after every conversation, what had taken 
place in the course of it. By these means things 
began to unfold themselves to me more and more, 
and I found my stock of knowledge almost daily 
on the increase. 

While, however, I was forwarding this, I was 
not inattentive to the other objects of my pursuit, 
which was that of waiting upon members person- 
ally. The first I called upon was sir Richard 
Hill. At the first interview he espoused the cause. 
I waited then upon others, and they professed 
themselves friendly ; but they seemed to make 
this profession more from the emotion of good 
hearts, revolting at the bare mention of the Slave- 
trade than from any knowledge concerning it. 
One, however, whom I visited, Mr. Powys (the 
late lord Lilford), with whom I had been before 
acquainted in Northamptonshire, seemed to doubt 
some of the facts in my book, from a belief that 
human nature was not capable of proceeding to 
such a pitch of wickedness. I asked him to name 
his facts. He selected the case of the hundred 


and thirty-two slaves who were thrown alive into 
the sea to defraud the underwriters. I promised 
to satisfy him fully upon this point, and went 
immediately to Granville Sharp, who lent me 
his account of the trial, as reported at large from 
the notes of the short-hand writer, whom he had 
employed on the occasion. Mr. Powys read the 
account. He became, in consequence of it, con- 
vinced, as, indeed, he could not otherwise be, of 
the truth of what I had asserted, and he declared 
at the same time that, if this were true, there was 
nothing so horrible related of this trade, which 
might not immediately be believed. Mr. Powys 
had been always friendly to this question, but now 
he took a part in the distribution of my books. 

Among those whom I visited, was Mr. Wilber- 
force. On my first interview with him, he stated 
frankly, that the subject had often employed his 
thoughts, and that it was near his heart. He 
seemed earnest about it, and also very desirous 
of taking the trouble of inquiring further into it. 
Having read my book, which I had delivered to 
him in person, he sent for me. He expressed 
a wish that I would make him acquainted with 
some of my authorities for the assertions in it, 
which I did afterwards to his satisfaction. He 
asked me if I could support it by any other evi- 
dence. I told him I could. I mentioned Mr. 
Newton, Mr. Nisbett, and several others to him. 
He took the trouble of sending for all these. He 
made memorandums of their conversation, and, 
sending for me afterwards, showed them to me. 


On learning my intention to devote myself to the 
cause, he paid me many handsome compliments. 
He then desired me to call upon him often, and 
to acquaint him with my progress from time to 
time. He expressed also his willingness to afford 
me any assistance in his power in the prosecution 
of my pursuits. 

The carrying on of these different objects, 
together with the writing which was connected 
with them, proved very laborious, and occupied 
almost all my time. I was seldom engaged less 
than sixteen hours in the day. When I left Tes- 
ton to begin the pursuit as an object of my life, 
I promised my friend Mr. Ramsay a weekly ac- 
count of my progress. At the end of the first 
week my letter to him contained little more than 
a sheet of paper. At the end of the second it 
contained three ; at the end of the third six ; 
and at the end of the fourth I found it would 
be so voluminous, that I was obliged to decline 
writing it. 

VOL. V 16 




Continuation of the fourth class of forerunners and coadjutors 
up to 1787. — Author goes on to enlarge his knowledge in the 
different departments of the subject — communicates more fre- 
QUENTLY with Mr. Wilberforce. — Meetings now appointed at the 
house of the latter.— Dinner at Mr. Langton's — Mr. Wilber- 
force pledges himself there to take up the subject in Parlia- 
ment. — Remarkable junction, in consequence, of all the four 
classes of forerunners and coadjutors before mentioned. — Com- 
mittee formed out of these on the 22d of May, 1787, for the 
abolition of the slave-trade. 

The manner in which Mr. Wilberforce had 
received me, and the pains which he had taken, 
and was still taking, to satisfy himself of the truth 
of those enormities which had been charged upon 
the Slave-trade, tended much to enlarge my hope, 
that they might become at length the subject of a 
parliamentary inquiry. Richard Phillips also, to 
whom I made a report at his chambers almost 
every evening of the proceedings of the day, had 
begun to entertain a similar expectation. Of 
course, we unfolded our thoughts to one another. 
From hence a desire naturally sprung up in each 
of us to inquire, whether any alteration in conse- 
quence of this new prospect should be made in my 
pursuits. On deliberating upon this point, it 
seemed proper to both of us, that the distribution 
of the books should be continued ; that I should 
still proceed in enlarging my own knowledge ; and 
that I should still wait upon members of the legis- 
lature, but with this difference, that I should never 


lose sight of Mr. Wilberforce, but, on the other 
hand, that I should rather omit visiting some 
others, than paying a proper attention to him. 

One thing however appeared now to be neces- 
sary, which had not yet been done. This was to 
inform our friends in the city, upon whom I had 
all along occasionally called, that we believed the 
time was approaching, when it would be desirable 
that we should unite our labors, if they saw no 
objection to such a measure ; for, if the Slave- 
trade were to become a subject of parliamentary 
inquiry with a view to the annihilation of it, no 
individual could perform the work which would 
be necessary for such a purpose. This work must 
be a work of many ; and who so proper to assist 
in it as they, who had before so honorably la- 
bored in it ? In the case of such an event large 
funds also would be wanted, and who so proper to 
procure and manage them as these ? A meeting 
was accordingly called at the house of James 
Phillips, when these our views were laid open. 
When I stated that from the very time of my 
hopes beginning to rise I had always had those 
present in my eye as one day to be fellow -laborers. 
William Dillwyn replied, that from the time they 
had first heard of the Prize Essay, they also had 
had their eyes upon me, and, from the time they 
had first seen me, had conceived a desire of mak- 
ing the same use of me as I had now expressed 
a wish of making of them, but that matters did 
not appear ripe at our first interview. Our pro- 
posal, however, was approved, and an assurance 


was given, that an union should take place, as 
soon as it was judged to be seasonable. It was 
resolved also, that one day in the week* should 
be appointed for a meeting at the house of James 
Phillips, where as many might attend as had 
leisure, and that I should be there to make a 
report of my progress, by which we might all 
judge of the fitness of the time of calling our- 
selves an united body. Pleased now with the 
thought that matters were put into such a train, 
I returned to my former objects. 

It is not necessary to say any thing more of 
the first of these objects, which was that of the 
further distribution of my book, than that it was 
continued, and chiefly by the same hands. 

With respect to the enlargement of my knowl- 
edge, it was promoted likewise. I now gained 
access to the Custom-house in London, where 
I picked up much valuable information for my 

Having had reason to believe that the Slave- 
trade was peculiarly fatal to those employed in 
itj I wished much to get copies of many of the 
muster-rolls from the Custom-house at Liverpool 
for a given time. James Phillips wrote to his 
friend William Rathbone, who was one of his 
own religious society, and who resided there, to 

* At these weekly meetings I met occasionally Joseph "Woods, 
George Harrison, and John Lloyd, three of the other members, who 
belonged to the committee of the second class of forerunners and 
coadjutors as before described. I had seen all of them before) but 
I do not recollect the time when I first met them. 


procure them. They were accordingly sent up. 
The examination of these, which took place at 
the chambers of Richard Phillips, was long and 
tedious. We looked over them together. We 
usually met for this purpose at nine in the evening, 
and we seldom parted till one, and sometimes 
not till three in the morning. When our eyes 
were inflamed by the candle, or tired by fatigue, 
we used to relieve ourselves by walking out with- 
in the precincts of Lincoln's Inn, when all seemed 
to be fast asleep, and thus, as it werej in solitude 
and in stillness to converse upon them, as well 
as upon the best means of the further promotion 
of our cause. These scenes of our early friend- 
ship and exertions I shall never forget. I often 
think of them both with astonishment and with 
pleasure. Having recruited ourselves in this man- 
ner, we used to return to our work. From these 
muster-rolls I may now observe, that we gained 
the most important information. We ascertained 
beyond the power of contradiction, that more than 
half of the seamen, who went out with the ships 
in the Slave-trade, did not return with them, and 
that of these so many perished, as amounted to 
one-fifth of all employed. As to what became 
of the remainder, the muster-rolls did not inform 
us. This, therefore, was left to us as a subject 
for our future inquiry. 

In endeavoring to enlarge my knowledge, my 
thoughts were frequently turned to the West In- 
dian part of the question, and in this department 
my friend Richard Phillips gained me important 


intelligence. He put into my hands several doc- 
uments concerning estates in the West Indies, 
which he had mostly from the proprietors them- 
selves, where the slaves by mild and prudent usage 
had so increased in population, as to supersede 
the necessity of the Slave-trade. 

By attending to those and to various other parts 
of the subject, I began to see as it were with 
new eyes : I was enabled to make several neces- 
sary discriminations, to reconcile things before 
seemingly contradictory, and to answer many 
objections which had hitherto put on a formida- 
ble shape. But most of all was I rejoiced at 
the thought that I should soon be able to prove 
that which I had never doubted, but which had 
hitherto been beyond my power in this case, that 
Providence, in ordaining laws relative to the 
agency of man, had never made that to be wise 
which was immoral, and that the Slave-trade 
would be found as impolitic as it was inhuman 
and unjust. 

In keeping up my visits to members of parlia- 
ment, I was particularly attentive to Mr. Wilber- 
force, whom I found daily becoming more inter- 
ested in the fate of Africa. I now made to him 
a regular report of my progress, of the sentiments 
of those in parliament whom I had visited, of the 
disposition of my friends in the city of whom he 
had often heard me speak, of my discoveries from 
the Custom-houses of London and Liverpool, of 
my documents concerning West India estates, and 
of all, indeed, that had occurred to me worth 


mentioning. He had himself also been making 
his inquiries, which he communicated to me in 
return. Our intercourse had now become frequent, 
no one week elapsing without an interview. At 
one of these, I suggested to him the propriety 
of having occasional meetings at his own house, 
consisting of a few friends in parliament, who 
might converse on the subject. Of this he ap- 
proved. The persons present at the first meeting 
were Mr. Wilberforce, the honorable John Villiers, 
Mr. Powys, Sir Charles Middleton, Sir Richard- 
Hill, Mr. Granville Sharp, Mr. Ramsay, Dr. Gre- 
gory, (who had written on the subject, as before 
mentioned) and myself. At this meeting I read 
a paper, giving an account of the light I had 
collected in the course of my inquiries, with ob- 
servations as well on the impolicy as on the 
wickedness of the trade. Many questions arose 
out of the reading of this little essay. Many 
answers followed. Objections were started and 
eanvassed. In short, this measure was found so 
useful, that certain other evenings as well as 
mornings were fixed upon for the same purpose. 

On reporting my progress to my friends in the 
city, several of whom now assembled once in the 
week, as I mentioned before to have been agreed 
upon, and particularly on reporting the different 
meetings which had taken place at the house of 
Mr. Wilberforce, on the subject, they were of 
opinion that the time was approaching when we 
might unite, and that this union might prudently 
commence as soon as ever Mr. Wilberforce would 


give his word that he would take up the question 
in parliament. Upon this I desired to observe, 
that though the latter gentleman had pursued the 
subject with much earnestness, he had never yet 
dropped the least hint that he would proceed so 
far in the matter, but I would take care that the 
question should be put to him, and I would bring 
them his answer. 

In consequence of the promise I had now made, 
I went to Mr. Wilberforce. But when I saw 
him, I seemed unable to inform him of the object 
of my visit. Whether this inability arose from 
any sudden fear that his answer might not be 
favorable, or from a fear that I might possibly in- 
volve him in a long and arduous contest upon 
this subject, or whether it arose from an awful 
sense of the importance of the mission, as it re- 
lated to the happiness of hundreds of thousands 
then alive, and of millions then unborn, I cannot 
say. But I had a feeling within me for which I 
could not account, and which seemed to hinder 
me from proceeding. And I actually went away 
without informing him of my errand. 

In this situation I began to consider what to do, 
when I thought I would call upon Mr. Langton, 
tell him what had happened, and ask his advice. 
I found him at home. We consulted together. 
The result was, that he was to invite Mr. Wilber- 
force and some others to meet me at a dinner at 
his own house, in two or three days, when he said 
he had no doubt of being able to procure an an- 


swer, by some means or other, to the question 
which I wished to have resolved. 

On receiving a card from Mr. Langton, I went 
to dine with him. I found the party consist 
of Sir Charles Middleton, Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. 
Hawkins Browne, Mr. Windham, Sir Joshua 
Reynolds, and Mr. Boswell. The latter was then 
known as the friend of Dr. Johnson, and after- 
wards as the writer of his Tour to the Hebrides. 
After dinner the subject of the Slave-trade was 
purposely introduced. Many questions were put 
to me, and I dilated upon each in my answers, 
that I might inform and interest those present as 
much as I could. They seemed to be greatly im- 
pressed with my account of the loss of seamen in 
the trade, and with the little samples of African 
cloth, which I had procured for their inspection. 
Sir Joshua Reynolds gave his unqualified appro- 
bation of the abolition of this cruel traffic. Mr. 
Hawkins Browne joined heartily with him in 
sentiment ; he spoke with much feeling upon it, 
and pronounced it to be barbarous, and contrary 
to every principle of morality and religion. Mr. 
Boswell, after saying the planters would urge that 
the Africans were made happier by being car- 
ried from their own country to the West Indies, 
observed, " Be it so. But we have no right to 
make people happy against their will." Mr. 
Windham, when it was suggested that the great 
importance of our West Iudian islands, and the 
grandeur of Liverpool, would be brought against 
those who should propose the abolition of the 

vol. i. 17 


Slave-trade, replied " We have nothing to do with 
the policy of the measure. Rather let Liverpool 
and the islands be swallowed up in the sea, than 
this monstrous system of iniquity be carried on."* 
While such conversation was passing-, and when 
all appeared to be interested in the cause, Mr. 
Langton put the question, about the proposal of 
which I had been so diffident, to Mr. Wilberforce, 
in the shape of a delicate compliment. The latter 
replied, that he had no objection to bring forward 
the measure in Parliament, when he was better 
prepared for it, and provided no person more 
proper could be found. Upon this, Mr. Hawkins 
Browne and Mr. Windham both said they would 
support him there. Before I left the company, I 
took Mr. Wilberforce aside, and asked him if I 
might mention this his resolution to those of my 
friends in the city, of whom he had often heard 
me speak, as desirous of aiding him by becoming 
a committee for the purpose. He replied, I 
might. I then asked Mr. Langton, privately, if 
he had any objection to belong to a society of 
which there might be a committee for the abo- 
lition of the Slave-trade. He said he should be 
pleased to become a member of it. Having 
received these satisfactory answers, I returned 

The next day, having previously taken down 

* I do not know upon what grounds, after such strong expres- 
sions, Mr. Bos well, in the next year, and Mr. Windham, after 
having supported the cause for three or four years, became in- 
imical to it. 


the substance of the conversation at the dinner, I 
went to James Phillips, and desired that our friends 
might be called together as soon as they conve- 
niently could, to hear my report. In the interim I 
wrote to Dr. Peckard, and waited upon Lord 
Scarsdale, Dr. Baker, and others, to know (sup- 
posing a society were formed for the abolition of 
the Slave-trade) if I might say they would belong 
to it 1 All of them replied in the affirmative, and 
desired me to represent them, if there should be 
any meeting for this purpose. 

At the time appointed, I met my friends. I 
read over the substance of the conversation which 
had taken place at Mr. Langton's. No difficulty 
occurred. All were unanimous for the formation 
of a committee. On the next day we met by 
agreement for this purpose. It was then resolved 
unanimously, among other things, That the Slave- 
trade was both impolitic and unjust. It was 
resolved also, That the following persons be a 
committee for procuring such information and 
evidence, and publishing the same, as may tend 
to the abolition of the Slave-trade, and for direct- 
ing the application of such moneys as have been 
already, and may hereafter be collected for the 
above purpose : — 

Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson, 

William Dillwyn, Richard Phillips, 

Samuel Hoare, John Barton, 

George Harrison, Joseph Hooper, 

John Lloyd, James Phillips, 

Joseph Woods, Philip Sansom. 


All these were present. Granville Sharp, who 
stands at the head of the list, and who, as the 
father of the cause in England, was called to the 
chair, may be considered as representing the 
first class of forerunners and coadjutors, as it has 
been before described. The five next, of whom 
Samuel Hoare was chosen as the treasurer, were 
they who had been the committee of the second 
class, or of the Quakers in England, with the 
exception of Dr. Knowles, who was then dying, 
but who, having heard of our meeting, sent a 
message to us, to exhort us to proceed. The third 
class, or that of the Quakers in America, may 
be considered as represented by William Dillwyn, 
by whom they were afterwards joined to us in 
correspondence. The two who stand next, and 
in which I am included, may be considered as 
representing the fourth, most of the members of 
which we had been the means of raising. Thus, 
on the twenty-second of May 1787, the represen- 
tatives of all the four classes, of which I have 
been giving a history from the year 1516, met 
together, and were united in that committee, to 
which I have been all along directing the atten- 
tion of the reader ; a committee, which, laboring 
afterwards with Mr. Wilberforce as a parliamen- 
tary head, did, under Providence, in the space of 
twenty years, contribute to put an end to a trade 
which, measuring its magnitude by its crimes and 
sufferings, was the greatest practical evil that 
ever afflicted the human race. 

Xw-Ycrk,Pub. by John S. Taylor 



After the formation of the committee,* notice 
was sent to Mr. Wilberforce of the event, and a 
friendship began, which has continued uninter- 
ruptedly between them, from that to the present 


The preceding history of the different classes of the fore- 

As the preceding history of the different classes 
of the forerunners and coadjutors, to the time 
of their junction, or to the formation of the com- 
mittee, as just explained, may be thought inter- 
esting by many, I have endeavored, by means 
of the annexed map, so to bring it before the 
reader, that he may comprehend the whole of it 
at a single view. 

The figure beginning at A and reaching down 
to X represents the first class of forerunners, and 
coadjutors up to the year 1787, as consisting of so 
many springs or rivulets, which assisted in making 
and swelling the torrent which swept away the 

* All the members were of the society of the Quakers, except 
Messrs. Sharp, Sansom, and myself. Joseph Gurney Bevan was 
present on the day before this meeting. He desired to belong to 
the society, but to be excused from belonging to the committee. 
VOL. I. 17* 


The figure from B to C and from C to X repre- 
sents the second class, or that of the Quakers in 
England, up to the same time. The stream on 
the right hand represents them as a body, and that 
on the left, the six individuals belonging to them, 
who formed the committee in 1783. 

The figure from B to D represents the third 
class, or that of the Quakers in America when 
joined with others in 1774. The stream passing 
from D through E to X shows how this class was 
conveyed down, as it were, so as to unite witrl 
the second. That passing from D to Y shows its 
course in its own country, to its enlargement in 
1787. And here 1 may observe, that as the dif- 
ferent streams which formed a junction at X, 
were instrumental in producing the abolition of 
the Slave-trade in England, in the month of 
March 1807, so those, whose effects are found 
united at Y, contributed to produce the same 
event in America, in the same month of the same 

The figure from F to X represents the fourth 
class up to 1787. 

X represents the junction of all the four classes 
in the committee instituted in London on the 
twenty-second day of May, 1787. 

The parallel lines G, H, I, K, represent differ- 
ent periods of time, showing when the forerunners 
and coadjutors lived. The space between G and 
H includes the space of fifty years, in which we 
find but few laborers in this cause. That between 
H and I includes the same portion of time in 


which we find them considerably increased, or 
nearly doubled. That between I and K repre- 
sents the next thirty-seven years. But here we 
find their increase beyond all expectation, for we 
find four times more laborers in this short term, 
than in the whole of the preceding century. 

In looking over the map, as thus explained, a 
number of thoughts suggest themselves, some of 
which it may not be improper to detail. And 
first, in looking between the first and second paral- 
lel, we perceive, that Morgan Godwyn, Richard 
Baxter, and George Fox, the first a clergyman of 
the Established Church, the second a divine at the 
head of the Nonconformists, and the third the 
founder of the religious society of the Quakers, 
appeared each of them the first in his own class, 
and all of them about the same time, in behalf of 
the oppressed Africans. We see then this great 
truth first apparent, that the abolition of the Slave- 
trade took its rise, not from persons, who set up a 
cry for liberty, when they were oppressors them- 
selves, nor from persons who were led to it by 
ambition, or a love of reputation among men, but 
Where it was most desirable, namely, from the 
teachers of Christianity in those times. 

This account of its rise will furnish us with 
some important lessons. And first, it shows us 
the great value of religion. We see, when moral 
disorders become known, that the virtuous are 
they who rise up for the removal of them. Thus 
Providence seems to have appointed those who 
devote themselves most to his service, to the hon- 


orable office of becoming so many agents, under 
his influence, for the correction of the evils of life. 
And as this account of the rise of the abolition of 
the Slave-trade teaches us the necessity of a due 
cultivation of religion, so it should teach us to 
have a brotherly affection for those, who, though 
they may differ from us in speculative opinions 
concerning it, do yet show by their conduct that 
they have a high regard for it. For though God- 
wyn, and Baxter, and Fox, differed as to the arti- 
cles of their faith, we find them impelled by the 
spirit of Christianity, which is of infinitely more 
importance than a mere agreement in creeds, to 
the same good end. 

In looking over the different streams in the map, 
as they are discoverable both in Europe and Amer- 
ica, we are impressed with another truth on the 
same subject, which is, that the Christian religion 
is capable of producing the same good fruit in all 
lands. However men may differ on account of 
climate, or language, or government, or laws, or 
however they may be situated in different quarters 
of the globe, it will produce in them the same vir- 
tuous disposition, and make them instruments for 
the promotion of happiness in the world. 

In looking between the two first parallels, where 
we see so few laborers, and in contemplating the 
great increase of these between the others, we are 
taught the consoling lesson, that however small 
the beginning and slow the progress may appear 
in any good work which we may undertake, we 
need not be discouraged as to the ultimate result 


of our labors; for though our cause may appear 
stationary, it may only become so, in order that it 
may take a deeper root, and thus be enabled to 
stand better against the storms which may after- 
wards beat about it. 

In taking the same view again, we discover the 
manner in which light and information proceed 
under a free government in a good cause. An 
individual, for example, begins; he communicates 
his sentiments to others. Thus, while alive, he 
enlightens ; when dead, he leaves his works behind 
him. Thus, though departed, he yet speaks, and 
his influence is not lost. Of those enlightened 
by him, some become authors, and others actors 
in their turn. While living, they instruct, like 
their predecessors; when dead, they speak also. 
Thus a number of dead persons are encouraging 
us in libraries, and a number of living are convers- 
ing and diffusing zeal among us at the same 
time. This, however, is not true in any free and 
enlightened country with respect to the propaga- 
tion of evil. The living find no permanent en- 
couragement, and the dead speak to no purpose 
in such a case. 

This account of the manner in which light and 
information proceed in a free country, furnishes 
us with some valuable knowledge. It shows us, 
first, the great importance of education; for all 
they who can read may become enlightened. 
They may gain as much from the dead as from 
the living. They may see the sentiments of for- 
mer ages. Thus they may contract, by degrees^ 


habits of virtuous inclination, and become fitted 
to join with others in the removal of any of the 
evils of life. 

It shows us, secondly, how that encouraging- 
maxim may become true, That no good effort is 
ever lost. For if he, who makes the virtuous 
attempt, should be prevented by death from suc- 
ceeding in it, can he not speak, though in the 
tomb \ Will not his works still breathe his senti- 
ments upon it. ] May not the opinions, and the 
facts, which he has recorded, meet the approbation 
of ten thousand readers, of whom it is probable, 
in the common course of things, that some will 
branch out of him as authors, and others as actors 
or laborers, in the same cause ? 

And, lastly, it will show us the difficulty (if any 
attempt should be made) of reversing permanently 
the late noble act Of the legislature for the aboli- 
tion of the Slave-trade. For let us consider how 
many, both of the living and the dead, could be 
made to animate us. Let us consider too, that 
this is the cause of mercy, justice, and religion ; 
that as such, it will always afford renewed means 
of rallying ; and that the dead will always be 
heard with interest^ and the living with enthu- 
siasm, upon it. 



Author devotes this chapter to considerations relative to him 
self— fears that by the frequent introduction of himself to 
the notice of the reader he may incur the charge of osten 
TATioN. — Observations on such a charge. 

Having brought my History of the Abolition of 
the Slave-trade up to the month of May, 1787, I 
purpose taking the liberty, before I proceed with 
it, to devote this chapter to considerations relative 
to myself. This, indeed, seems to be now neces- 
sary : for 1 have been fearful for some pages past, 
and, indeed, from the time when 1 began to intro- 
duce myself to the notice of the reader, as one of 
the forerunners and coadjutors in this great cause, 
that I might appear to have put myself into a 
situation too prominent, so as even to have incur- 
red the charge of ostentation. But if there should 
be some, who, in consequence of what they have 
already read of this history, should think thus 
unfavorably of me, what must their opinion ulti- 
mately be, when unfortunately, I must become 
still more prominent in it ! Nor do I know in 
what manner I shall escape their censure. For 
if, to avoid egotism, I should write, as many have 
done, in the third person, what would this profit 
me? The delicate situation, therefore, in which I 
feel myself to be placed, makes me desirous of 
saying a few words to the reader on this subject. 

And first, I may observe, that several of my 


friends urged me from time to time, and this long 
before the abolition of the Slave-trade had been 
effected, to give a history of the rise and progress 
of the attempt, as far as it had been then made. 
But I uniformly resisted their application. 

When the question was decided last year, they 
renewed their request. They represented to me, 
that no person knew the beginning and progress 
of this great work so well as myself; that it was 
a pity that such knowledge should die with me ; 
that such a history would be useful ; that it would 
promote good feelings among men ; that it would 
urge them to benevolent exertions ; that it would 
supply them with hope in the midst of these; that 
it would teach them many valuable lessons ; these 
and other things were said to me. But, encour- 
aging as they were, I never lost sight of the ob- 
jection, which is the subject of this chapter ; nor 
did I ever fail to declare, that though, considering 
the part I had taken in this great cause, I might 
be qualified better than some others, yet it was a 
task too delicate for me to perform. I always 
foresaw that I could not avoid making myself too 
prominent an object in such a history, and that I 
should be liable, on that account, to the suspicion 
of writing it for the purpose of sounding my own 

With this objection my friends were not satis- 
fied. They answered, that I might treat the 
History of the Abolition of the Slave-trade as a 
species of biography, or as the history of a part of 
my own life : that people, who had much less 


weighty matters to communicate, wrote their own 
histories ; and that no one charged them with 
vanity for so doing. 

I own I was not convinced by this answer. I 
determined, however, in compliance with their 
wishes, to examine the objection more minutely, 
and to see if I could overcome it more satisfac- 
torily tomy own mind. With this view, I endeav- 
ored to anticipate the course which such a his- 
tory would take. I saw clearly, in the first place, 
that there were times, for months together, when 
the committee for the abolition of the Slave-trade 
was laboring without me, and when I myself for 
an equal space of time was laboring in distant 
parts of the kingdom without them. Hence I per- 
ceived that, if my own exertions were left out, 
there would be repeated chasms in this history, 
and, indeed, that it could not be completed with- 
out the frequent mention of myself. And I was 
willing to hope that this would be so obvious to 
the good sense of the reader, that if he should 
think me vain-glorious in the early part of it, he 
would afterwards, when he advanced in the peru- 
sal of it, acquit me of such a charge. This con- 
sideration was the first, which removed my objec- 
tion on this head. That there can be no ground 
for any charge of ostentation, as far as the origin 
of this history is concerned, so I hope to convince 
him there can be none, by showing him in what 
light I have always viewed myself in connexion 
with the committee, to which I have had the 
honor to belong. 

vol. i. 18 


I have uniformly considered our committee for 
the abolition of the Slave-trade, as we usually 
consider the human body, that is, as made up of 
a head and of various members, which had dif- 
ferent offices to perform. Thus, if one man was 
an eye, another was an ear, another an arm, and 
another a foot. And here I may say, with great 
truth, that I believe no committee was ever made 
up of persons, whose varied talents were better 
adapted to the work before them. Viewing" then 
the committee in this light, and myself as in con- 
nexion with it, I may deduce those truths, with 
which the analogy will furnish me. And first, it 
will follow, that if every member has performed 
his office faithfully, though one may have done 
something more than another, yet no one of them 
in particular has any reason to boast. With what 
propriety could the foot, though in the execution 
of its duty it had become weary, say to the finger, 
" Thou hast done less than I ;" when the finger 
could reply with truth, " I have done all that has 
been given me to do !" It will follow also, that 
as every limb is essentially necessary for the com- 
pletion of a perfect work ; so in the case before 
us, every one was as necessary in his own office, 
or department, as another. For what, for exam- 
ple, could I myself have done if I had not derived 
so much assistance from the committee ? What 
could Mr. Wilberforce have done in Parliament, 
if I, on the other hand, had not collected that 
great body of evidence, to which there was such 
a constant appeal ? And what could the com- 


mittee have done without the parliamentary aid 
of Mr. Wilberforce 1 And in mentioning this neces- 
sity of distinct offices and talents for the accom- 
plishment of the great work, in which we have 
been all of us engaged, I feel myself bound by the 
feelings of justice to deliver it as my opinion in 
this place, (for, perhaps, I may have no other 
opportunity,) that knowing, as I have done, so 
many members of both houses of our legislature, 
for many of whom I have had a sincere respect, 
there was never yet one, who appeared to me to 
be so properly qualified, in all respects, for the 
management of the great cause of the abolition 
of the Slave-trade, as he, whose name I have just 
mentioned. His connexions, but more particu- 
larly his acquaintance with the first minister of 
state, were of more service in the promotion of it, 
than they, who are but little acquainted with po- 
litical movements, can well appreciate. His habits 
also of diligent and persevering inquiry made him 
master of all the knowledge that was requisite 
for conducting it. His talents both in and out of 
Parliament made him a powerful advocate in its 
favor. His character, free from the usual spots 
of human imperfection, gave an appropriate lustre 
to the cause, making it look yet more lovely, and 
enticing others to its support. But most of all, 
the motive, on which he undertook it, insured 
its progress. For this did not originate in views 
of selfishness, or of party, or of popular applause, 
but in an awful sense of his duty as a Christian. 
It was this, which gave him alacrity and courage 


in his pursuit. It was this, which made him 
continue in his elevated situation of a legislator, 
though it was unfavorable, if not to his health, 
at least to his ease and comfort. It was this, 
which made him incorporate this great object 
among the pursuits of his life, so that it was daily 
in his thoughts. It was this, which, when year 
after year of unsuccessful exertion returned, oc- 
casioned him to be yet fresh and vigorous in 
spirit, and to persevere till the day of triumph. 

But to return : There is yet another considera- 
tion, which I shall offer to the reader on this 
subject, and with which I shall conclude it. It 
is this ; that no one ought to be accused of vanity 
until he has been found to assume to himself some 
extraordinary merit. This being admitted, I shall 
now freely disclose the view, which I have always 
been desirous of taking of my own conduct on 
this occasion, in the following words : — 

As Robert Barclay, the apologist for the Qua- 
kers, when he dedicated his work to Charles the 
Second, intimated to this prince, that any merit, 
which the work might have, would not be derived 
from his patronage of it, but from the Author 
of all spiritual good ; so I say to the reader, with 
respect to myself, that I disclaim all praise on 
account of any part I may have taken in the pro- 
motion of this great cause, for that I am desirous 
above all things to attribute my best endeavors 
in it to the influence of a superior Power ; of 
Him, I mean, who gave me a heart to feel ; who 
gave me courage to begin ; and perseverance to 


proceed ; and that I am thankful to Him, and 
this with the deepest feeling of gratitude and hu- 
mility, for having permitted me to become useful, 
in any degree, to my fellow creatures. 


Author returns to his history. — Committee formed as before 
mentioned — its proceedings. — author produces a summary view 
of the Slave-trade and of the probable consequences of its 
abolition.— Wrongs of Africa, by Mr. Roscoe, generously pre- 
sented to The committee. — Important discussion as to the object 
of the committee. — Emancipation declared to be no part of it. — 
Committee decides on its public title. — Author requested to 
go to Bristol, Liverpool and Lancaster, to collect further in- 
formation on the subject of the trade. 

I return now, after this long digression, to the 
continuation of my history. 

It was shown in the latter part of the tenth 
chapter, that twelve individuals, all of whom were 
then named, met together, by means which no one 
could have foreseen, on the twenty-second of May, 
1787 ; and that, after having voted the Slave-trade 
to be both unjust and impolitic, they formed them- 
selves into a committee for procuring such infor- 
mation and evidence, and for publishing the same, 
as might tend to the abolition of it, and for direct- 
ing the application of such money, as had been 
already and might hereafter be collected for that 
purpose. At this meeting it was resolved also, that 
no less than three members should form a quo- 

vol. i. 18* 


rum ; that Samuel Hoare should be the treasurer ; 
that the treasurer should pay no money but by 
order of the committee ; and that copies of these 
resolutions should be printed and circulated, in 
which it should be inserted that the subscriptions 
of all such as were willing to forward the plans 
of the committee, should be received by the trea- 
surer or any member of it. 

On the twenty-fourth of May, the committee 
met again to promote the object of its institution. 

The treasurer reported at this meeting, that the 
subscriptions already received, amounted to one 
hundred and thirty-six pounds. 

As I had foreseen, long before this time, that 
my Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the 
Human Species was too large for general circula- 
tion, and yet that a general circulation of knowl- 
edge on this subject was absolutely necessary, I 
determined, directly after the formation of the 
committee, to write a short pamphlet consisting 
only of eight or ten pages for this purpose. I 
called it A Summary View of the Slave-trade, and 
of the probable Consequences of its Abolition. It 
began by exhibiting to the reader the various un- 
justifiable ways in which persons living on the 
coast of Africa became slaves. It then explained 
the treatment which these experienced on their 
passage, the number dying in the course of it, and 
the treatment of the survivors in the colonies of 
those nations to which they were carried. It then 
announced the speedy publication of a work on the 
Impolicy of the Trade, the contents of which, as 


far as I could then see, I gave generally under the 
following heads : Part the first, it was said, would 
show, that Africa was capable of offering to us a 
trade in its own natural productions as well as in 
the persons of men ; that the trade in the persons 
of men was profitable but to a few ; that its value 
was diminished from many commercial consid- 
erations ; that it was also highly destructive to 
our seamen ; and that the branch of it, by which 
we supplied the island of St. Domingo with slaves, 
was peculiarly impolitic on that account. Part 
the second, it was said, would show, that, if the 
slaves were kindly treated in our colonies, they 
would increase ; that the abolition of the trade 
would necessarily secure such a treatment to them, 
and that it would produce many other advantages 
which would be then detailed. 

This little piece I presented to the committee at 
this their second meeting. It was then duly read 
and examined ; and the result was, that, after 
some little correction, it was approved, and that 
two thousand copies of it were ordered to be 
printed, with lists of the subscribers and of the 
committee, and to be sent to various parts of the 

On June the seventh the committee met again 
for the dispatch of business, when, among other 
things, they voted their thanks to Dr. Baker, of 
Lower Grosvenor-street, who had been one of my 
first assistants, for his services to the cause. 

At this committee, John Barton, one of the 
members of it, stated that he was commissioned 


by the author of a poem, entitled, The Wrongs of 
Africa, to offer the profits, which might arise from 
the sale of that work, to the committee, for the 
purpose of enabling them to pursue the object of 
their institution. This circumstance was not only 
agreeable, inasmuch as it showed us, that there 
were others who felt with us for the injured Afri- 
cans, and who were willing to aid us in our de- 
signs, but it was rendered still more so, when we 
were given to understand that the poem was writ- 
ten by Mr. Roscoe of Liverpool, and the preface 
to it by the late Dr. Currie, who then lived in the 
same place. To find friends to our cause rising 
up from a quarter, where we expected scarcely 
any thing but opposition, was very consolatory and 
encouraging. As this poem was well written, but 
cannot now be had, I shall give the introductory 
part of it, which is particularly beautiful, to the 
perusal of the reader. It begins thus : 

" Offspring of Love divine, Humanity ! 
To whom, his eldest born, th' Eternal gave 
Dominion o'er the heart ; and taught to touch 
Its varied stops in sweetest unison ; 
And strike the string that from a kindred breast 
Responsive vibrates ! from the noisy haunts 
Of mercantile confusion, where thy voice 
Is heard not ; from the meretricious glare 
Of crowded theatres, where in thy place 
Sits Sensibility, with wat'ry eye, 
Dropping o'er fancied woes her useless tear ; — 
Come thou, and weep with me substantial ills ; 
And execrate the wrongs, that Afric's sons, 
Torn from their natal shore, and doom'd to bear 
The yoke of servitude in foreign climes, 
Sustain. Nor vainly let our sorrows flow, 


Nor let the strong emotion rise in vain ; 
But may the kind contagion widely spread, 
Till in its flame the unrelenting heart 
Of avarice melt in softest sympathy — 
And one bright blaze of universal love 
In grateful incense rises up to Heaven ! 

u Form'd with the same capacity of pain, 
The same desire of pleasure and of ease, 
Why feels not man for man ! When nature shrinks 
From the slight puncture of an insect's sting, 
Faints, if not screen'd from sultry suns, and pines 
Beneath the hardship of an hour's delay 
Of needful nutriment ; — when Liberty 
Is priz'd so dearly, that the slightest breath. 
That ruffles but her mantle, can awake 
To arms un warlike nations, and can rouse 
Confed'rate states to vindicate her claims: — 
How shall the suff'rer man his fellow doom 
To ills he mourns or spurns at ; tear with stripes 
His quiv'ring flesh ; with hunger and with thirst 
Waste his emaciate frame ; in ceaseless toils 
Exhaust his vital powers ; and bind his limbs 
In galling chains ! Shall he, whose fragile form 
Demands continual blessing to support 
Its complicated texture, air, and food, 
Raiment, alternate rest, and kindly skies, 
And healthful seasons, dare with impious voice 
To ask those mercies, whilst his selfish aim 
Arrests the general freedom of their course ; 
And, gratified beyond his utmost wish, 
Debars another from the bounteous store !" 

In this manner was the subject of this beautiful 
poem introduced to the notice of the public. But 
I have no room for any further extracts, nor time 
to make any further comment upon it. I can 
only add, that the committee were duly sensible as 
well of its merits, as of the virtuous and generous 


disposition of the author, and that they requested 
John Barton to thank him in an appropriate man- 
ner for his offer, which he was to say they ac- 
cepted gratefully. 

At this sitting, at which ten members were 
present out of the twelve, a discussion unexpect- 
edly arose on a most important subject. The 
committee, finding that their meetings began to 
be approved by many, and that the cause under 
their care was likely to spread, and foreseeing 
also the necessity there would soon be of making 
themselves known as a public body throughout 
the kingdom, thought it right that they should 
assume some title, which should be a permanent 
one, and which should be expressive of their future 
views. This gave occasion to them to reconsider 
the object for which they had associated, and to 
fix and define it in such a manner, that there 
should be no misunderstanding about it in the 
public mind. In looking into the subject, it ap- 
peared to them that there were two evils, quite 
distinct from each other, which it might become 
their duty to endeavor to remove. The first was 
the evil of the Slave-trade, in consequence of 
which many thousand persons were every year 
fraudulently and forcibly taken from their country, 
their relations, and friends, and from all that they 
esteemed valuable in life. The second was the 
evil of slavery itself, in consequence of which the 
same persons were forced into a situation, where 
they were deprived of the rights of men, where 
they were obliged to linger out their days subject 


to excessive labor and cruel punishments, and 
where their children were to inherit the same 
hard lot. Now the question was, which of the 
two evils the committee should select as that, to 
which they should direct their attention with a 
view of the removal of it ; or whether, with the 
same view, it should direct its attention to both 
of them. 

It appeared soon to be the sense of the com*- 
mittee, that to aim at the removal of both would 
be to aim at too much, and that by doing this we 
might lose all. 

The question then was, which of the two they 
were to take as their object. Now in considering 
this question it appeared that it did not matter 
where they began, or which of them they took, 
as far as the end to be produced was the thing 
desired. For, first, if the Slave-trade should be 
really abolished, the bad usage of the slaves in 
the colonies, that is, the hard part of their slavery, 
if not the slavery itself, would fall. For, the 
planters and others being unable to procure more 
slaves from the coast of Africa, it would follow 
directly, whenever this great event should take 
place, that they must treat those better, whom 
they might then have. They must render mar- 
riage honorable among them. They must estab- 
lish the union of one man with one wife. They 
must give the pregnant women more indulgences. 
They must pay more attention to the rearing of 
their offspring. They must work and punish the 
adults with less rigor. Now it was to be appre- 


hended that they could not do these things, with- 
out seeing the political advantages which would 
arise to themselves from so doing ; and that, rea- 
soning upon this, they might be induced to go 
on to give them greater indulgences, rights, and 
privileges in time. But how would every such 
successive improvement of their condition operate, 
but to bring them nearer to the state of freemen 1 
In the same manner it was contended, that the bet- 
ter treatment of the slaves in the colonies, or that 
the emancipation of them there, when fit for it, 
would of itself lay the foundation for the abolition 
of the Slave-trade. For, if the slaves were kindly 
treated, that is, if marriage were encouraged 
among them; if the infants who should be born 
were brought up with care ; if the sick were 
properly attended to ; if the young and the adult 
were well fed and properly clothed, and not over- 
worked, and not worn down by the weight of 
severe punishments, they would necessarily in- 
crease, and this on an extensive scale. But if the 
planters were thus to get their laborers from the 
births on their own estates, then the Slave-trade 
would in time be no longer necessary to them, 
and it would die away as an useless and a noxious 
plant. Thus it was of no consequence, which 
of the two evils the committee were to select as 
the object for their labors ; for, as far as the end 
in view only was concerned, that the same end 
would be produced in either case. 

But in looking further into this question, it 
seemed to make a material difference which of the 


two they selected, as far as they had in view the 
due execution of any laws, which might be made 
respecting them, and their own prospect of success 
in the undertaking. For, by aiming at the aboli- 
tion of the Slave-trade, they were laying the axe 
at the very root. By doing this, and this only, 
they would not incur the objection, that they were 
meddling with the property of the planters, and 
letting loose an irritated race of beings, who, in 
consequence of all the vices and infirmities, which 
a state of slavery entails upon those who undergo 
it, were unfit for their freedom. By asking the 
government of the country to do this, and this 
only, they were asking for that, which it had an 
indisputable right to do ; namely, to regulate or* 
abolish any of its branches of commerce ; whereas 
it was doubtful, whether it could interfere with 
the management of the internal affairs of the colo- 
nies, or whether this was not wholly the province 
of the legislatures established there. By asking 
the government, again, to do this and this only, 
they were asking what it could really enforce. It 
could station its ships of war, and command its 
custom-houses, so as to carry any act of this kind 
into effect. But it could not ensure that an act 
to be observed in the heart of the islands should 
be enforced.* To this it was added, that if the 

* The late correspondence of the governors of our colonies with 
Lord Camden in his official situation, but particularly the state- 
ments made by Lord Seaforth and General Prevost, have shown 
the wisdom of this remark, and that no dependence was to be 
had for the better usage of the slaves but upon the total abolition, 
of the trade, 

VOL. I. 19 


committee were to fix upon the annihilation of 
slavery as the object of their labors, the Slave- 
trade would not fall so speedily as it would by a 
positive law for the abolition ; because, though 
the increase from the births might soon supply 
all the estates now in cultivation with laborers, 
yet new plantations might be opened from time to 
time in different islands, so that no period could 
be fixed upon, when it could be said that it would 

Impressed by these arguments, the committee 
were clearly of opinion, that they should define 
their object to be the abolition of the Slave-trade, 
and not of the slavery which sprung from it. 
Hence from this time, and in allusion to the 
month when this discussion took place, they styled 
themselves in their different advertisements, and 
reports, though they were first associated in the 
month of May, The committee instituted in June 
1787, for effecting the Abolition of the Slave- 
trade. Thus, at the very outset, they took a 
ground which was for ever tenable. Thus they 
were enabled also to answer the objection, which 
was afterwards so constantly and so industriously 
circulated against them, that they were going to 
emancipate the slaves. And I have no doubt that 
this wise decision contributed greatly to their suc- 
cess ; for I am persuaded that, if they had adopted 
the other object, they could not for years to come, 
if ever, have succeeded in their attempt. 

Before the committee broke up, I represented 
to them the necessity there was of obtaining 


further knowledge on all those individual points, 
which might be said to belong to the great subject 
of the abolition of the Slave-trade. In the first 
place, this knowledge was necessary for me, if I 
were to complete my work on the Impolicy of 
this Trade, which work the Summary View, just 
printed, had announced to the world. It would 
be necessary also, in case the Slave-trade should 
become a subject of parliamentary inquiry ; for 
this inquiry could not proceed without evidence, 
And if any time was peculiarly fit for the procur- 
ing of such information or evidence, it was the 
present. At this time the passions of men had 
not been heated by any public agitation of the 
question, nor had interest felt itself biased to 
conceal the truth. But as soon as ever it should 
be publicly understood, that a parliamentary in- 
quiry was certain, (which we ourselves believed 
would be the case, but which interested men did 
not then know,) we should find many of the ave- 
nues to information closed against us. I proposed 
therefore that some one of the committee should 
undertake a journey to Bristol, Liverpool, and 
Lancaster, where he should reside for a time to 
collect further light upon this subject ; and that 
if others should feel their occupations or engage- 
ments to be such as would make such a journey 
unsuitable, I would undertake it myself. I beg- 
ged therefore the favor of the different members 
of the committee, to turn the matter over in their 
minds by the next meeting, that we might then 


talk over and decide upon the propriety of the 

The committee held its fourth meeting on the 
twelfth of June. Among the subjects which were 
then brought forward, was that of the journey 
before mentioned. The propriety, and indeed even 
the necessity of it was so apparent, that I was 
requested by all present to undertake it, and a 
minute for that purpose was entered upon our 
records. Of this journey, as gradually unfolding 
light on the subject, and as peculiarly connected 
with the promotion of our object, I shall now give 
an account ; after which I shall return to the pro-^ 
ceedings of the committee. 


Author arrives at Bristol. — Introduction to Quaker families 
there. — Objects of his inquiry. — III usage of seamen on board 
the ship Brothers. — Obtains a knowledge of several articles of 
African produce. — DR. Camplin— Dean Tucker — Mr. Henry Sul- 
gar. — Procures an authenticated account of the treacherous 
massacre at Calebar. — III usage of the seamen of the ship Al- 
fred. — Painful feelings of the author on this occasion. 

Having made preparations for my journey, I 
took my leave of the different individuals of the 
committee. I called upon Mr. Wilberforce, also, 
with the same design. He was then very ill, and 
in bed. Sir Richard Hill and others were sitting 
by his bed-side. After conversing as much as he 


well could in his weak state, he held out his 
hand to me, and wished me success. When I 
left him, I felt much dejected. It appeared to 
me as if it would be in this case, as it is often 
in that of other earthly things, that we scarcely 
possess what we repute a treasure, when it is 
taken from us. 

I determined to take this journey on horse- 
back, not only on account of the relaxed state in 
which I found myself, after such close and con- 
stant application, but because I wished to have all 
my time to myself upon the road, in order the 
better to reflect upon the proper means of promot- 
ing this great cause. The first place I resolved 
to visit was Bristol. Accordingly 1 directed my 
course thither. On turning a corner, within about 
a mile of that city, at about eight in the evening, 
I came within sight of it. The weather was 
rather hazy, which occasioned it to look of un- 
usual dimensions. The bells of some of the 
churches were then ringing ; the sound of them 
did not strike me,- till I had turned the corner 
before mentioned, when it came upon me at once. 
It filled me almost directly, with a melancholy 
for which I could not account. I began now to 
tremble, for the first time, at the arduous task I 
had undertaken, of attempting to subvert one of 
the branches of the commerce of the great place 
which was then before me. I began to think of 
the host of people I should have to encounter in 
it. I anticipated much persecution in it also ; and 
I questioned whether I should even get out of it 

VOL. I. 19* 


alive, But in journeying on, I became more calm 
and composed. My spirits began to return. In 
these latter moments I considered my first feelings 
as useful, inasmuch as they impressed upon me 
the necessity of extraordinary courage, and activity, 
and perseverance, and of watchfulness, also, over 
my own conduct, that I might not throw any stain 
upon the cause I had undertaken. When, there- 
fore, I entered the city, I entered it with an un- 
daunted spirit, determining that no labor should 
make me shrink, nor danger, nor even persecution, 
deter me from my pursuit. 

My first introduction was by means of a letter 
to Harry Gandy, who had then become one of the 
religious society of the Quakers. This introduc- 
tion to him was particularly useful to me, for he 
had been a seafaring man. In his early youth he 
had been of a roving disposition ; and, in order 
to see the world, had been two voyages in the 
Slave-trade, so that he had known the nature and 
practices of it. This enabled him to give me 
much useful information on the subject ; and as 
he had frequently felt, as he grew up, deep afflic- 
tion of mind for having been concerned in it, he 
was impelled to forward my views as much as 
possible under an idea that he should be thus 
making some reparation for the indiscreet and 
profane occupations of his youth. 

I was also introduced to the families of James 
Harford, John Lury, Matthew Wright, Philip De- 
bell Tucket, Thomas Bonville, and John Waring ; 
all of whom were of the same religious society. I 


gained an introduction, also, soon afterwards, to 
George Fisher. These were my first and only 
acquaintance at Bristol for some time. I derived 
assistance in the promotion of my object from all 
of them ; and it is a matter of pleasing reflection, 
that the friendships then formed have been kept 
alive to the present time. 

The objects I had marked down as those to be 
attended to, were : to ascertain what were the na- 
tural productions of Africa, and, if possible, to ob- 
tain specimens of them, with a view of forming a 
cabinet or collection ; to procure as much infor- 
mation as I could, relative to the manner of ob- 
taining slaves on the continent of Africa, of trans- 
porting them to the West Indies, and of treating 
them there ; to prevail upon persons, having a 
knowledge of any or all of these circumstances, 
to come forward to be examined as evidences 
before parliament, if such an examination should 
take place ; to make myself still better acquainted 
with the loss of seamen in the Slave-trade ; also 
with the loss of those who were employed in the 
other trades from the same port ; to know the 
nature, and quantity, and value of the imports and 
exports of goods in the former case : there were 
some other objects, which I classed under the 
head of Miscellaneous. 

In my first movements about this city, I found 
that people talked very openly on the subject of 
the Slave-trade. They seemed to be well ac- 
quainted with the various circumstances belonging 
to it. There were facts, in short, in every body's 


mouth, concerning it ; and every body seemed to 
execrate it, though no one thought of its abolition. 
In this state of things I perceived that my course 
was obvious ; for I had little else to do, in pursu- 
ing two or three of my objects, than to trace the 
foundation of those reports which were in cir- 

On the third of July I heard that the ship Bro- 
thers,* then lying in King-road for Africa, could 
not get her seamen, and that a party which had 
been put on board, becoming terrified by the pros^> 
pect of their situation, had left her on Sunday 
morning. On inquiring further, I found that those 
who had navigated her on her last voyage, thirty- 
two of whom had died, had been so dreadfully 
used by the captain, that he could not get hands 
in the present. It was added, that the treatment 
of seamen was a ciying evil in this trade, and 
that consequently few would enter into it, so that 
there was at all times a great difficulty in procur- 
ing them, though they were ready enough to 
enter into other trades. 

The relation of these circumstances made me 
acquainted with two things, of which I had not 
before heard : namely, the aversion of seamen to 
engage, and the bad usage of them when engaged, 
in this cruel trade ; into both which, I determined 
immediately to inquire. 

* I abstain from mentioning the names of the captain of this or 
of other vessels, lest the recording of them should give pain to rela- 
tives who can have had no share in their guilt, 


1 conceived that it became me to be very cau- 
tious about giving ear too readily to reports; and 
therefore, as I cOuld easily learn the truth of one 
of the assertions which had been made to me, I 
thought it prudent to ascertain this, and to judge, 
by the discovery I should make concerning it, 
what degree of credit might be due to the rest. 
Accordingly, by means of my late friend, Truman 
Harford, the eldest son of the respectable family 
of that name, to which I have already mentioned 
myself to have been introduced, I gained access to 
the muster-roll of the ship Brothers. On looking 
Over the names of her last crew, I found the mel- 
ancholy truth confirmed, that thirty-two of them 
had been placed among the dead. 

Having ascertained this circumstance, I became 
eager to inquire into the truth of the others, but 
more particularly of the treatment of one of the 
seamen, which, as it was reported to me, exceeded 
all belief. His name was John Dean ; he was a 
black man, but free. The report was, that for a 
trifling circumstance, for which he was in nowise 
to blame, the captain had fastened him with his 
belly to the deck, and that, in this situation, he 
had poured hot pitch upon his back, and made 
incisions in it with hot tongs. 

Before, however, I attempted to learn the truth 
of this barbarous proceeding, I thought I Would 
look into the ship's muster-roll, to see if I could 
find the name of such a man. On examination 
I found it to be the last on the list. John Dean, it 
appeared, had been one of the original crew, hav*. 


ing gone on board, from Bristol, on the twenty- 
second day of July, 1785. 

On inquiring where Dean was to be found, my 
informant told me that he had lately left Bristol for 
London. I was shown, however, to the house 
where he had lodged. The name of his landlord 
was Donovan. On talking with him on the sub- 
ject, he assured me that the report which I had 
heard was true ; for that while he resided with 
him he had heard an account of his usage from 
some of his ship-mates, and that he had often 
looked at his scarred and mutilated back. 

On inquiring of Donovan if any other person in 
Bristol could corroborate this account, he referred 
me to a reputable tradesman living in the Market- 
place. Having been introduced to him, he told 
me that he had long known John Dean to be a 
sober and industrious man ; that he had seen the 
terrible indentures on his back ; and that they 
were said to have been made by the captain, in 
the manner related, during his last voyage. 

While I was investigating this matter further, I 
was introduced to Mr. S} 7 denham Teast, a respect- 
able ship-builder in Bristol, and the owner of ves- 
sels trading to Africa in the natural productions 
of that country. I mentioned to him by accident 
what I had heard relative to the treatment of 
John Dean. He said it was true. An attorney* 

* I afterwards found out this attorney. He described the trans- 
action to me, as by report, it had taken place> and informed me 
that he had made the captain of the Brothers pay for his barbarity. 


in London had then taken up his cause, in conse- 
quence of which the captain had been prevented 
from sailing, till he could find persons who would 
be answerable for the damages which might be 
awarded against him in a court of law. Mr. 
Teast further said, that, not knowing, at that time, 
the cruelty of the transaction to its full extent, 
he himself had been one of the securities for the 
captain at the request of the purser* of the ship. 
Finding, however, afterwards, that it was as the 
public had stated 3 he was sorry that he had ever 
interfered in such a barbarous case. 

This transaction, which I now believed to be 
true, had the effect of preparing me for crediting 
whatever I might hear concerning the barbarities 
said to be practised in this trade. It kindled also 
a fire of indignation within me, and produced in 
me both anxiety and spirit to proceed. But that 
which excited these feelings the most, was the 
consideration, that the purser of this ship, know- 
ing, as he did, of this act of cruelty, should have 
sent out this monster again. This, I own, made 
me think that there was a system of bad usage to 
be deliberately practised upon the seamen in this 
employment, for some purpose or other which I 
could then neither comprehend nor ascertain. 

But while I was in pursuit of this one object, I 
was not unmindful of the others which I had 

* The purser of a ship, at Bristol, is the person who manages 
the out-fit, as well as the trade, and who is often in part owner of 


marked out for myself. I had already procured 
an interview, as I have mentioned, with Mr. Sy- 
denham Teast. I had done this with a view of 
learning from him what were the different produc- 
tions of the continent of Africa, as far as he had 
been able to ascertain from the imports by his own 
vessels. He was very open and communicative. 
He had imported ivory, red-wood, cam-wood, and 
gum-copal. He purposed to import palm oil. 
He observed that bees-wax might be collected also 
upon the coast. Of his gum-copal he gave me a 
specimen. He furnished me also with two differ- 
ent specimens of unknown woods, which had the 
appearance of being useful. One of his captains, 
he informed me, had been told by the natives, that 
cotton, pink in the pod, grew in their country. 
He was of opinion, that many valuable produc- 
tions might be found upon this continent. 

Mr. Biggs, to whom I gained an introduction 
also, was in a similar trade with Mr. Teast ; that 
is, he had one or two vessels, which skimmed, as 
it were, the coast and rivers, for what they could 
get of the produce of Africa, without having any 
concern in the trade for slaves. Mr. Biggs gave 
me a specimen of gum Senegal, of yellow wood, 
and of Mailaguetta and Cayenne pepper. He 
gave me also small pieces of cloth made and dyed 
by the natives, the colors of which they could 
only have obtained from materials in their own 
country. Mr. Biggs seemed to be assured, that 
if proper persons were sent to Africa on discovery, 
they would find a rich mine of wealth in the nat- 


ural productions of it, and in none more advan- 
tageous to this as a manufacturing nation, than in 
the many beautiful dyes which it might furnish. 

From Thomas Bonville I collected two speci- 
mens of cloth made by the natives, and from others 
a beautiful piece of tulip-wood, a small piece of 
wood similar to mahogany, and a sample of fine 
rice, all of which had been brought from the same 

Among the persons whom I found out at Bris- 
tol, and from whom I derived assistance, were 
Dr. Camplin, and the celebrated Dean Tucker. 
The former was my warm defender ; for the West- 
Indian and African merchants, as soon as they 
discovered my errand, began to calumniate me. 
The Dean, though in a very advanced age, felt 
himself much interested in my pursuit. He had 
long moved in the political world himself, and 
was desirous of hearing of what was going for- 
ward that was new in it, but particularly about so 
desirable a measure as that of the abolition of the 
Slave-trade.* He introduced me to the Custom- 
house at Bristol. He used to call upon me at the 
Merchant's Hall, while I was transcribing the 
muster-rolls of the seamen there. In short, he 
seemed to be interested in all my movements. 
He became also a warm supporter both of me and 
of my cause. 

* Dean Tucker, in his Reflections on the Disputes between 
Great Britain and Ireland, published in 1785, had passed a severe 
censure on the British planters for the inhuman treatment of their 

vol. i. 20 


Among others, who were useful to me in my 
pursuit, was Mr. Henry Sulgar, an amiable min- 
ister of the gospel belonging to the religious soci- 
ety of the Moravians in the same city. From him 
I first procured authentic documents relative to 
the treacherous massacre at Calabar. This cruel 
transaction had been frequently mentioned to me ; 
but as it had taken place twenty years before, I 
could not find one person who had been engaged 
in it, nor could I come, in a satisfactory manner, 
at the various particulars belonging to it. My 
friend, however, put me in possession of copies of 
the real depositions which had been taken in the 
ease of the King against Lippincott and others 
relative to this event, namely, of captain Floyd, of 
the city of Bristol, who had been a witness to the 
scene, and of Ephraim Robin John, and of Anco- 
na Robin Robin John, two African chiefs, who 
had been sufferers by it. These depositions had 
been taken before Jacob Kirby, and Thomas Sy- 
mons, esquires, commissioners at Bristol for taking 
affidavits in the court of King's Bench. The 
tragedy, of which they gave a circumstantial ac- 
count, I shall present to the reader in as concise a 
manner as I can. 

In the year 1767, the ships Indian Queen, Duke 
of York, Nancy, and Concord, of Bristol, the Ed- 
gar, of Liverpool, and the Canterbury, of London, 
lay in Old Calabar river. 

It happened at this time that a quarrel subsisted 
between the principal inhabitants of Old Town 
and those of New Town, Old Calabar, which had: 


originated in a jealousy respecting slaves. The 
captains of the vessels now mentioned joined in 
sending several letters to the inhabitants of Old 
Town, but particularly to Ephraim Robin John, 
who was at that time a grandee or principal inhab- 
itant of the place. The tenor of these letters 
was, that they were sorry that any jealousy or 
quarrel should subsist between the two parties ; 
that if the inhabitants of Old Town would come 
on board, they would afford them security and 
protection ; adding at the same time, that their 
intention in inviting them was, that they might 
become mediators, and thus heal their disputes. 

The inhabitants of Old Town, happy to find 
that their differences were likely to be accom- 
modated, joyfully accepted the invitation. The 
three brothers of the grandee just mentioned, the 
eldest of whom was Amboe Robin John, first en- 
tered their canoe, attended by twenty-seven others^ 
and, being followed by nine canoes, directed their 
course to the Indian Queen. They were dispatch- 
ed from thence the next morning to the Edgar, 
and afterwards to the Duke of York, on board of 
which they went, leaving their canoe and attend- 
ants by the side of the same vessel. In the mean 
time the people on board the other canoes were 
either distributed on board, or lying close to, the 
other ships. 

This being the situation of the three brothers^ 
and of the principal inhabitants of the place, the 
treachery now began to appear. The crew of 
the Duke of York, aided by the captain and matesj 


and armed with pistols and cutlasses, rushed into 
the cabin, with an intent to seize the persons 
of their three innocent and unsuspicious guests. 
The unhappy men, alarmed at this violation of the 
rights of hospitality, and struck with astonish- 
ment at the behaviour of their supposed friends, 
attempted to escape through the cabin windows, 
but being wounded were obliged to desist, and to 
submit to be put in irons. 

In the same moment, in which this atrocious 
attempt had been made, an order had been given 
to fire upon the canoe, which was then lying by 
the side of the Duke of York. The canoe soon 
filled and sunk, and the wretched attendants were 
either seized, killed, or drowned. Most of the 
other ships followed the example. Great numbers 
were additionally killed and drowned on the occa- 
sion, and others were swimming to the shore. 

At this juncture the inhabitants of New Town, 
who had concealed themselves in the bushes by 
the water side, and between whom and the com- 
manders of the vessels the plan had been pre- 
viously concerted, came out from their hiding 
places, and, embarking in their canoes, made for 
such as were swimming from the fire of the ships. 
The ships' boats also were manned, and joined in 
the pursuit. They butchered the greatest part 
of those whom they caught. Many dead bodies 
were soon seen upon the sands, and others were 
floating upon the water ; and including those who 
were seized and carried off, and those who were 
drowned and killed, either by the firing of the 


ships or by the people of New Town, three hun- 
dred were lost to the inhabitants of Old Town on 
that day. 

The carnage, which I have been now describ- 
ing, was scarcely over, when a canoe, full of the 
principal people of New Town, who had been the 
promoters of the scheme, dropped along-side of 
the Duke of York. They demanded the person 
of Amboe Robin John, the brother of the grandee 
of Old Town, and the eldest of the three on 
board. The unfortunate man put the palms of 
his hands together, and beseeched the commander 
of the vessel, that he would not violate the rights 
of hospitality by giving up an unoffending stranger 
to his enemies. But no entreaties could avail. 
The commander received from the New Town 
people a slave, of the name of Econg, in his stead, 
and then forced him into the canoe, where his 
head was immediately struck off in the sight 
of the crew, and of his afflicted and disconsolate 
brothers. As for them, they escaped his fate ; but 
they were carried off with their attendants to the 
West Indies, and sold for slaves. 

The knowledge of this tragical event now fully 
confirmed me in the sentiment, that the hearts of 
those, who were concerned in this traffic, became 
unusually hardened, and that I might readily be- 
lieve any atrocities, however great, which might 
be related of them. It made also my blood boil 
as it were within me. It gave a new spring to 
my exertions. And I rejoiced, sorrowful as I 
otherwise was, that I had visited Bristol, if it had 

vol. i. 20* 


been only to gain an accurate statement of this 
one fact. 

In pursuing my objects, I found that reports 
were current, that the crew of the Alfred slave- 
vessel, which had just returned, had been barbar- 
ously used, but particularly a young man of the 
name of Thomas, who had served as the surgeon's 
mate on board her. The report was, that he had 
been repeatedly knocked down by the captain ; 
that he had become in consequence of his ill 
usage so weary of his life, that he had three times 
jumped overboard to destroy it ; that on being 
taken up the last time he had been chained to 
the deck of the ship, in which situation he had 
remained night and day for some time ; that in 
consequence of this his health had been greatly 
impaired ; and that it was supposed he could not 
long survive this treatment. 

It was with great difficulty, notwithstanding all 
my inquiries, that I could trace this person. I dis- 
covered him, however, at last. He was confined 
to his bed when I saw him, and appeared to me 
to be delirious. I could collect nothing from him- 
self relative to the particulars of his treatment. 
In his intervals of sense, he exclaimed against 
the cruelty both of the captain and of the chief 
mate, and pointing to his legs, thighs and body, 
which were all wrapped up in flannel, he endeav- 
ored to convince me how much he had suffered 
there. At one time he said he forgave them. 
At another he asked, if I came to befriend him. 


At another he looked wildly, and asked if I meant 
to take the captain's part and to kill him. 

I was greatly affected by the situation of this 
poor man, whose image haunted me both night 
and day, and I was meditating how most effectu- 
ally to assist him, when I heard that he was 

I was very desirous of tracing something fur- 
ther on this subject, when Walter Chandler, of 
the society of the Quakers, who had been daily 
looking out for intelligence for me, brought a 
young man to me of the name of Dixon. He had 
been one of the crew of the same ship. He told 
me the particulars of the treatment of Thomas, 
with very little variation from those contained in 
the public report. After cross-examining him in 
the best manner I was able, I could find no incon- 
sistency in his account. 

I asked Dixon how the captain came to treat 
the surgeon's mate in particular so ill. He said 
he had treated them all much alike. A person 
of the name of Bulpin, he believed, was the only 
one who escaped bad usage in the ship. With 
respect to himself, he had been cruelly used so 
early as in the outward bound passage, which 
had occasioned him to jump overboard. When 
taken up he was put into irons, and kept in these 
for a considerable time. He was afterwards ill 
used at different times, and even so late as within 
three or four days of his return to port. For just 
before the Alfred made the island of Lundy, he 


was struck by the captain, who cut his under lip 
into two. He said that it had bled so much, that 
the captain expressed himself as if much alarmed ; 
and having the expectation of arriving 1 soon at 
Bristol, he had promised to make him amends, if 
he would hold his peace. This he said he had 
hitherto done, but he had received no recompense. 
In confirmation of his own usage, he desired me 
to examine his lip, which I had no occasion to do, 
having already perceived it, for the wound was 
apparently almost fresh. 

I asked Dixon, if there was any person in Bris- 
tol, besides himself, who could confirm to me this 
his own treatment, as well as that of the other un- 
fortunate man who was now dead. He referred 
me to a seaman of the name of Matthew Pyke. 
This person, when brought to me, not only related 
readily the particulars of the usage in both cases, 
as I have now stated them, but that which he re- 
ceived himself. He said that his own arm had 
been broken by the chief mate in Black River, 
Ja,maica, and that he had also by the captain's 
orders, though contrary to the practice in merchant 
vessels, been severely flogged. His arm appeared 
to be then in pain. And I had a proof of the 
punishment by an inspection of his back. 

I asked Matthew Pyke, if the crew in general 
had been treated in a cruel manner. He replied, 
they had, except James Bulpin. I then asked 
where James Bulpin was to be found. He told 
me where he had lodged, but feared he had gone 


home to his friends in Somersetshire, I think some- 
where in the neighborhood of Bridgewater. 

I thought it prudent to institute an inquiry into 
the characters of Thomas, Dixon, and Matthew 
Pyke, before I went further. The two former I 
found were strangers in Bristol, and I could collect 
nothing about them. The latter was a native of 
the place, had served his time as a seaman from 
the port, and was reputed of fair character. 

My next business was to see James Bulpin. I 
found him just setting off for the country. He 
stopped, however, to converse with me. He was a 
young man of very respectable appearance and of 
mild manners. His appearance, indeed, gave me 
reason to hope that I might depend upon his state- 
ments ; but I was most of all influenced by the 
consideration, that, never having been ill used 
himself, he could have no inducement to go be* 
yond the bounds of truth on this occasion. He 
gave me a melancholy confirmation of all the 
three cases. He told me also that one Joseph 
Cunningham had been a severe sufferer, and that 
there was reason to fear that Charles Horselerj 
another of the crew, had been so severely beaten 
over the breast with a knotted end of a rope 
(which end was of the size of a large ball, and 
had been made on purpose) that he died of it. 
To this he added, that it was now a notorious 
fact, that the captain of the Alfred, when mate 
of a slave-ship, had been tried at Barbadoes for 
the murder of one of the crew, with whom he 


had sailed* but that he had escaped by bribing the 
principal witness to disappear.* 

The reader will see, the further I went into the 
history of this voyage, the more dismal it became. 
One miserable account, when examined, only 
brought up another. I saw no end to inquiry. 
The great question was, what was I to do ? I 
thought the best thing would be to get the captain 
apprehended, and make him stand his trial either 
for the murder of Thomas or of Charles Horseler. 
I communicated with the late Mr. Bulges, an emi- 
nent attorney and the deputy town-clerk, on this 
occason. He had shown an attachment to me on 
account of the cause I had undertaken, and had 
given me, privately, assistance in it. I say pri- 
vately ; because, knowing the sentiments of many 
of the corporate body at Bristol, under whom he 
acted, he was fearful of coming forward in an open 
manner. His advice to me was, to take notes of 
the case for my own private conviction, but to take 
no public cognizance of it. He said that seamen, 
as soon as their wages were expended, must be off 
to sea again. They could not generally, as lands- 
men do, maintain themselves on shore. Hence I 
should be obliged to keep the whole crew at my 
own expense till the day of trial, which might not 
be for months to come. He doubted not that, in 
the interim, the merchants and others would in- 

* Mr. Sampson, who was surgeon's mate of the ship, in which 
the captain had thus served as a mate, confirmed to me afterwards 
this assertion, having often heard him boast in the cabin, " how he 
had tricked the law on that occasion." 


veigle many of them away by making them boat- 
swains and other inferior officers in some of their 
ships ; so that, when the day of trial should come, 
I should find my witnesses dispersed and gone. 
He observed moreover, that, if any of the officers 
of the ship had any notion of going out again 
under the same owners,* I should have all these 
against me. To which he added that, if I were 
to make a point of taking up the cause of those 
whom I found complaining of hard usage in this 
trade, I must take up that of nearly all who sailed 
in it ; for that he only knew of one captain from 
the port in the Slave-trade, who did not deserve 
long ago to be hanged. Hence I should get into 
a labyrinth of expense, and difficulty, and uneasi-*. 
ness of mind, from whence I should not easily find 
a clew to guide me. 

This advice, though it was judicious, and 
founded on a knowledge of law proceedings, I 
found it very difficult to adopt. My own disposi- 
tion was naturally such, that whatever I engaged 
in I followed with more than ordinary warmth. 

* The seamen of the Alfred informed the purser of their ill usage. 
Matthew Pyke not only showed him his arm and his back, but 
acquainted him with the murder of Charles Horseler, stating that 
he had the instrument of his death in his possession. The purser 
seemed more alive to this than to any other circumstance, and 
wished to get it from him. Pyke, however, had given it to me. 
Now what will the reader think, when he is informed that the 
purser, after all this knowledge of the captain's cruelty, sent him 
out again, and that he was the same person who was purser of 
the Brothers, and who had also sent out the captain of that ship a 
second time, as has been related, notwithstanding his barbarities in 
£brmer voyages ! 


I could not be supposed therefore, affected and 
interested as I then was, to be cool and tranquil 
on this occasion. And yet what would my worthy 
friend have said, if in this first instance I had 
opposed him ? I had a very severe struggle in my 
own feelings on this account. At length, though 
reluctantly, I obeyed. But as the passions, which 
agitate the human mind, when it is greatly in- 
flamed, must have a vent somewhere, or must 
work off as it were, or in working together must 
produce some new passion or effect ; so I found 
the rage, which had been kindling within me, 
subsiding into the most determined resolutions 
of future increased activity and perseverance. I 
began now to think that the day was not long 
enough for me to labor in. I regretted often the 
approach of night, which suspended my work, 
and I often welcomed that of the morning, which 
restored me to it. When I felt myself weary, I 
became refreshed by the thought of what I was 
doing ; when disconsolate, I was comforted by it. 
I lived in hope that every day's labor would fur- 
nish me with that knowledge, which would bring 
this evil nearer to its end ; and I worked on, 
under these feelings, regarding neither trouble nor 
danger in the pursuit. 



Author confers with the inhabitants of Bridgewater relative 
to a petition to parliament in behalf of the abolition — re- 
TURNS to Bristol — discovers a scandalous mode of procuring sea- 
men for the Slave-trade — and of paying them — makes a com- 
parative VIEW of their loss in this and in other trades — 

GRIM— OF Arnold of the Ruby — some particulars of the latter 


Having heard by accident, that the inhabitants 
of the town of Bridgewater had sent a petition to 
the House of Commons, in the year 1785, for the 
abolition of the Slave-trade, as has been related 
in a former part of the work, I determined, while 
my feelings were warm, to go there, and to try to 
find out those who had been concerned in it, and 
to confer with them as the tried friends of the 
cause. The time seemed to me to be approaching, 
when the public voice should be raised against 
this enormous evil. I was sure that it was only 
necessary for the inhabitants of this favored island 
to know it, to feel a just indignation against it. 
Accordingly I set off. My friend George Fisher, 
who was before mentioned to have been of the 
religious society of the Quakers, gave me an in- 
troduction to the respectable family of Ball, which 
was of the same religious persuasion. I called 
upon Mr. Sealey, Anstice, Crandon, Chubb, and 
others. I laid open to those, whom 1 saw, the 

vol. i. 21 


discoveries I had made relative to the loss and ill 
treatment of seamen ; at which they seemed to 
be much moved ; and it was agreed, that, if it 
should be thought a proper measure, (of which I 
would inform them when I had consulted the 
committee,) a second petition should be sent to 
Parliament from the inhabitants, praying for the 
abolition of the Slave-trade. With this view I 
left them several of my Summary Views, before 
mentioned, to distribute, that the inhabitants 
might know more particularly the nature of the 
evil, against which they were going to complain. 
On my return to Bristol, I determined to inquire 
into the truth of the reports that seamen had an 
aversion to enter, and that they were inveigled, 
if not often forced, into this hateful employment. 
For this purpose 1 was introduced to a landlord 
of the name of Thompson, who kept a public 
house called the Seven Stars. He was a very 
intelligent man, was accustomed to receive sailors, 
when discharged at the end of their voyages, and 
to board them till their vessels went out again, 
or to find them births in others. He avoided, 
however, all connexion with the Slave-trade, de- 
claring that the credit of his house would be 
ruined, if he were known to send those, who put 
themselves under his care, into it. 

From him I collected the truth of all that had 
been stated to me on this subject. But I told 
him I should not be satisfied until I had beheld 
those scenes myself, which he had described to 
me ; and I entreated him to take me into them> 


saying that I would reward him for all his time 
and trouble, and that I would never forget him 
while I lived. To this he consented ; and as 
three or four slave-vessels at this time were pre- 
paring for their voyages, it was time that we 
should begin our rounds. At about twelve at 
night we generally set out, and were employed till 
two and sometimes three in the morning. He led 
me from one of those public houses to another, 
which the mates of the slave-vessels used to 
frequent to pick up their hands. These houses 
were in Marsh-street, and most of them were 
then kept by Irishmen. The scenes witnessed in 
these houses were truly distressing to me ; and 
yet, if I wished to know practically what I had 
purposed, I could not avoid them. Music, dan- 
cing, rioting, drunkenness, and profane swearing, 
were kept up from night to night. The young 
mariner, if a stranger to the port, and unacquaint- 
ed with the nature of the Slave-trade, was sure 
to be picked up. The novelty of the voyages, 
the superiority of the wages in this over any 
other trade, and the privileges of various kinds, 
were set before him. Gulled in this manner he 
was frequently enticed to the boat, which was 
waiting to carry him away. If these prospects 
did not attract him, he was plied with liquor till 
he became intoxicated, when a bargain was made 
over him between the landlord and the mate. 
After this his senses were kept in such a constant 
state of stupefaction by the liquor, that in time 
the former might do with him what he pleased. 


Seamen also were boarded in these houses, who, 
Avhen the slave-ships were going out, but at no 
other time, were encouraged to spend more than 
they had money to pay for ; and to these, when 
they had thus exceeded, but one alternative was 
given, namely, a slave-vessel, or a jail. These dis- 
tressing scenes I found myself obliged frequently 
to witness, for I was no less than nineteen times 
occupied in making these hateful rounds. And 
I can say from my own experience, and all the 
information I could collect from Thompson and 
others, that no such practices were in use to obtain 
seamen for other trades. 

The treatment of the seamen employed in the 
Slave-trade had so deeply interested me, and now 
the manner of procuring them, that I was deter- 
mined to make myself acquainted with their 
whole history ; for I found by report, that they 
were not only personally ill-treated, as I have 
already painfully described, but that they were 
robbed by artifice of those wages, which had been 
held up to them as so superior in this service. 
All persons were obliged to sign articles, that, in 
case they should die or be discharged during the 
voyage, the wages then due to them should be 
paid in the currency where the vessel carried her 
slaves, and that half of the wages due to them 
on their arrival there should be paid in the same 
manner, and that they were never permitted to 
read over the articles they had signed. By means 
of this iniquitous practice the wages in the Slave- 
trade, though nominally higher in order to induce 


seamen to engage in it, were actually lower than 
in other trades. All these usages I ascertained 
in such a manner, that no person could doubt the 
truth of them. I actually obtained possession of 
articles of agreement belonging to these vessels, 
which had been signed and executed in former 
voyages. I made the merchants themselves, by 
sending those seamen, who had claims upon 
them, to ask for their accounts current with their 
respective ships, furnish me with such documents 
as would have been evidence against them in any 
court of law. On whatever branch of the system 
I turned my eyes, I found it equally barbarous. 
The trade was, in short, one mass of iniquity from 
the beginning to the end. 

I employed myself occasionally in the Mer- 
chant's Hall, in making copies of the muster-rolls 
of ships sailing to different parts of the world, that 
I might make a comparative view of the loss of 
seamen in the Slave-trade, with that of those in 
the other trades from the same port. The result 
of this employment showed me the importance of 
it : for, when I considered how partial the inhabit- 
ants of this country were to their fellow citizens, 
the seamen belonging to it, and in what estima- 
tion the members of the legislature held them, 
by enforcing the Navigation Act, which they con- 
sidered to be the bulwark of the nation, and by 
giving bounties to certain trades, that these might 
become so many nurseries for the marine, I 
thought it of great importance to be able to prove, 
as I was then capable of doing, that more persons 

vol. i. 21 * 


would be found dead in three slave-vessels from 
Bristol, in a given time, than in all the other ves- 
sels put together, numerous as they were, belong- 
ing to the same port. 

I procured, also, an account of the exports and 
imports for the year 1786, by means of which I 
was enabled to judge of the comparative value of 
this and the other trades. 

In pursuing another object, which was that of 
going on board the slave-ships, and learning their 
construction and dimensions, I was greatly struck, 
and indeed affected, by the appearance of two 
little sloops, which were fitting out for Africa, the 
one of only twenty-five tons, which was said to be 
destined to carry seventy ; and the other of only 
eleven, which was said to be destined to carry 
thirty slaves. I was told also that which was 
more affecting, namely, that these were not to act 
as tenders on the coast, by going up and down 
the rivers, and receiving three or four slaves at a 
time, and then carrying them to a large ship, 
which was to take them to the West Indies, but 
that it was actually intended, that they should 
transport their own slaves themselves ; that one 
if not both of them were, on their arrival in the 
West Indies, to be sold as pleasure vessels, and 
that the seamen belonging to them were to be 
permitted to come home by what is usually called 
the run. 

This account of the destination of these little 
vessels, though it was distressing at first, appeared 
to me afterwards, on cool reasoning, to be incred- 


ifole. I thought that my informants wished to im- 
pose upon me, in order that I might make state- 
ments which would carry their own refutation 
with them, and that thus I might injure the great 
cause which I had undertaken. And I was much 
inclined to be of this opinion, when I looked again 
at the least of the two : for any person, who was 
tall, standing upon dry ground by the side of her, 
might have overlooked every thing upon her deck. 
I knew also that she had been built as a pleasure 
boat for the accommodation of only six persons 
upon the Severn. I determined, therefore, to sus- 
pend my belief till I could take the admeasure- 
ment of each vessel. This I did ; but lest, in the 
agitation of my mind on this occasion, I should 
have made any mistake, I desired my friend 
George Fisher to apply to the builder for his ad- 
measurement also. With this he kindly complied. 
When he obtained it he brought it me. This 
account, which nearly corresponded with my own, 
was as follows : — In the vessel of twenty-five tons, 
the length of the upper part of the hold, or roof, 
of the room where the seventy slaves were to be 
stowed, was but little better than ten yards, or 
thirty-one feet. The greatest breadth of the bot- 
tom, or floor, was ten feet four inches, and the 
least five. Hence, a grown person must sit down 
all the voyage, and contract his limbs within the 
narrow limits of three square feet. In the vessel 
of eleven tons, the length of the room for the 
thirty slaves was twenty-two feet. The greatest 
breadth of the floor was eight, and the least four, 


The whole height from the keel to the beam was 
but five feet eight inches, three feet of which were 
occupied by ballast, cargo, and provisions, so that 
two feet eight inches remained only as the height 
between the decks. Hence, each slave would 
have only four square feet to sit in, and, when in 
this posture, his head, if he were a full-grown per- 
son, would touch the ceiling, or upper deck. 

Having now received this admeasurement from 
the builder, which was rather more favorable than 
my own, I looked upon the destination of these 
little vessels as yet more incredible than before. 
Still the different persons, whom 1 occasionally 
saw on board them, persisted in it that they were 
going to Africa for slaves, and also for the num- 
bers mentioned, which they were afterwards to 
carry to the West Indies themselves. I desired, 
however, my friends, George Fisher, Truman 
Harford, Harry Gandy, Walter Chandler, and 
others, each to make a separate inquiry for me 
on this subject ; and they all agreed that, im- 
probable as the account both of their destination, 
and of the number they were to take, might ap- 
pear, they had found it to be too true. I had 
soon afterwards the sorrow to learn from official 
documents from the Custom-house, that these 
little vessels actually cleared out for Africa, and 
that now nothing could be related so barbarous 
of this traffic, which might not instantly be be- 

In pursuing my different objects there was one, 
which, to my great vexation, I found it extremely 


difficult to attain. This was the procuring of any 
assurance from those, who had been personally- 
acquainted with the horrors of this trade, that they 
would appear, if called upon, as evidence against 
it. My friend, Harry Gandy, to whom I had 
been first introduced, had been two voyages, as I 
before mentioned ; and he was willing, though at 
an advanced age, to go to London, to state pub- 
licly all he knew concerning them. But with 
respect to the many others in Bristol, who had 
been to the coast of Africa, I had not yet found 
one, who would come forward for this purpose. 
There were several old Slave-captains living there, 
who had a great knowledge of the subject. I 
thought it not unreasonable, that I might gain 
one or two good evidences out of these, as they 
had probably long ago left the concern, and were 
not now interested in the continuance of it. But 
all my endeavors were fruitless. I sent messages 
to them by different persons, i met them in all 
ways. I stated to them, that if there was nothing 
objectionable in the trade, seeing it labored under 
such a stigma, they had an opportunity of coming 
forward and of wiping away the stain. If, on 
the other hand, it was as bad as represented, then 
they had it in their power, by detailing the crimes 
which attached to it, of making some reparation, 
or atonement, for the part they had taken in it. 
But no representations would do. All intercourse 
was positively forbidden between us ; and when- 
ever they met me in the street, they shunned me 
as if I had been a mad dog. I could not for some 


time account for the strange disposition which 
they thus manifested towards me ; but my friends 
helped me to unravel it, for I was assured that 
one or two of them, though they went no longer 
to Africa as captains, were in part owners of 
vessels trading there ; and, with respect to all of 
them, it might be generally said, that they had 
been guilty of such enormities, that they would be 
afraid of coming forward in the way I proposed, 
lest any thing should come out by which they 
might criminate themselves. I was obliged then 
to give up all hope of getting any evidence from 
this quarter, and I saw but little prospect of 
getting it from those, who were then actually de- 
riving their livelihood from the trade. And yet 
I was determined to persevere. For I thought 
that some might be found in it, who were not yet 
so hardened as to be incapable of being awakened 
on this subject. I thought that others might be 
found in it, who wished to leave it upon princi- 
ple, and that these would unbosom themselves to 
me. And I thought it not improbable that I 
might fall in with others, who had come unex- 
pectedly into a state of independence, and that 
these might be induced, as their livelihood would 
be no longer affected by giving me information, 
to speak the truth. 

I persevered for weeks together under this hope, 
but could find' no one of all those, who had been 
applied to, who would have any thing to say to 
me. At length Walter Chandler had prevailed 
upon a young gentleman, of the name of Gardi* 


ner, who was going out as surgeon of the Pilgrim, 
to meet me. The condition was, that we were to 
meet at the house of the former, but that we were 
to enter in and go out at different times, that is, 
we were not to be seen together. 

Gardiner, on being introduced to me said at 
once, that he had often wished to see me on the 
subject of my errand, but that the owner of the 
Pilgrim had pointed me out to him as a person, 
whom he would wish him to avoid. He then 
laid open to me the different methods of obtain^ 
ing slaves in Africa, as he had learned from those 
on board his own vessel in his first, or former, 
voyage. He unfolded also the manner of their 
treatment in the Middle Passage, with the various 
distressing scenes which had occurred in it. He 
stated the barbarous usage of the seamen as he 
had witnessed it, and concluded by saying, that 
there never was a subject, which demanded so 
loudly the interference of the legislature as that 
of the Slave-trade. 

When he had finished his narrative, and an- 
swered the different questions which I had pro- 
posed to him concerning it, I asked him in as 
delicate a manner as I could, How it happened, 
that seeing the trade in this horrible light, he had 
consented to follow it again 1 He told me frankly, 
that he had received a regular medical education, 
but that his relations, being poor, had not been 
able to set him up in his profession. He had 
saved a little money in his last voyage. In that, 
which he was now to perform, he hoped to save a 


little more. With the profits of both voyages 
together, he expected he should be able to furnish 
a shop in the line of his profession, when he would 
wipe his hands of this detestable trade. 

I then asked him, Whether upon the whole he 
thought he had judged prudently, or whether the 
prospect of thus enabling himself to become in- 
dependent, would counterbalance the uneasiness 
which might arise in future *? He replied, that he 
had not so much to fear upon this account. The 
trade, while it continued, must have surgeons. 
But it made a great difference both to the crew 
and to the slaves, whether these discharged their 
duty towards them in a feeling manner, or not. 
With respect to himself, he was sure that he 
should pay every attention to the wants of each. 
This thought made his continuance in the trade 
for one voyage longer more reconcileable. But he 
added, as if not quite satisfied, " Cruel necessity !" 
and he fetched a deep sigh. 

We took our leave, and departed, the one a few 
minutes after the other. The conversation of this 
young man was very interesting. I was much 
impressed both by the nature and the manner of 
it. I wished to secure him, if possible, as an evi- 
dence for Parliament, and thus save him from his 
approaching voyage : but I knew not what to do» 
At first, I thought it would be easy to raise a sub- 
scription to set him up. But then, I was aware 
that this might be considered as bribery, and make 
his testimony worth nothing. I then thought that 
the committee might detain him as an evidence^ 


and pay him, in a reasonable manner, for his sus- 
tenance, till his testimony should be called for. 
But I did not know how long it would be before 
his examination might take place. It might be 
a year or two. I foresaw other difficulties also ; 
and I was obliged to relinquish what otherwise 
I should have deemed a prize. 

On reviewing the conversation which had pass- 
ed between us after my return home, I thought, 
considering the friendly disposition of Gardiner 
towards us, I had not done all I could for the 
cause ; and, communicating my feelings to Walter 
Chandler, he procured me another interview. At 
this, I asked him if he would become an evidence, 
if he lived to return. He replied, very heartily, 
that he would. I then asked him, if he would 
keep a journal of facts during his voyage, as it 
would enable him to speak more correctly, in case 
he should be called upon for his testimony. He 
assured me, he would, and that he would make 
up a little book for that purpose. I asked him, 
lastly, When he meant to sail. He said, As soon 
as the ship could get all her hands. It was the 
intention to sail to-morrow, but that seven men, 
whom the mates had brought drunk out of Marsh- 
street the evening before, were so terrified when 
they found they were going to Africa, that they 
had seized the boat that morning, and had put 
themselves on shore. I took my leave of him, 
entreating him to follow his resolutions of kindness 
both to the sailors and the slaves, and wished him 
a speedy and a safe return. 

VQL. I, %% 


On going one day by the Exchange, after this 
interview with Gardiner, I overheard a young 
gentleman say to another, " that it happened on 
the coast, last year, and that he saw it." I wish- 
ed to know who he was, and to get at him if I 
could. I watched him at a distance for more 
than half an hour, when I saw him leave his com- 
panion. I followed him till he entered a house. 
I then considered whether it would be proper, and 
in what manner, to address him when he should 
come out of it. But I waited three hours, and I 
never saw him. I then concluded that he either 
lodged where I saw him enter, or that he had gone 
to dine with some friend. I therefore took notice 
of the house, and, showing it afterwards to several 
of my friends, desired them to make him out for 
me. In a day or two I had an inteiview with him. 
His name was James Arnold. He had been two 
voyages to the coast of Africa for slaves ; one 
as surgeon's mate in the Alexander, in the year 
1785, and the other as surgeon in the Little Pearl, 
in the year 1786, from which he had not then 
very long returned. 

I asked him if he was willing to give me any 
account of these voyages, for that I was making 
an inquiry into the nature of the Slave-trade. 
He replied, he knew that I was. He had been 
cautioned about falling in with me. He had, 
however, taken no pains to avoid me. It was a 
bad trade, and ought to be exposed. 

I went over the same ground as I had gone with 
Gardiner relative to the first of these voyages, or 


that in the Alexander. It is not necessary to de- 
tail the particulars. It is impossible, however, not 
to mention, that the treatment of the seamen on 
board this vessel was worse than I had ever before 
heard of. No less than eleven of them, unable to 
bear their lives, had deserted at Bonny on the 
coast of Africa, which is a most unusual thing", 
choosing all that could be endured, though in a 
most inhospitable climate, and in the power of the 
natives, rather than to continue in their own ship. 
Nine others also, in addition to the loss of these, 
had died in the same voyage. As to the rest, he 
believed, without any exception, that they had 
been badly used. 

In examining him with respect to his second 
voyage, or that in the Little Pearl, two circum- 
stances came out with respect to the slaves, which 
I shall relate in few words. 

The chief mate used to beat the men-slaves on 
very trifling occasions. About eleven one even- 
ing, the ship then lying off the coast, he heard a 
noise in their room. He jumped down among 
them with a lanthorn in his hand. Two of those, 
who had been ill-used by him, forced themselves 
out of their irons, and, seizing him, struck him 
with the bolt of them, and it was with some diffi- 
culty that he was extricated from them by the 

The men-slaves, unable now to punish him, and 
finding they had created an alarm, began to pro- 
ceed to extremities. They endeavored to force 
themselves up the gratings, and to pull down a 


partition which had been made for a sick-birth ; 
when they were fired upon and repressed. The 
next morning they were brought up one by one ; 
when it appeared that a boy had been killed, who 
was afterwards thrown into the sea. 

The two men, however, who had forced them- 
selves out of irons, did not come up with the rest, 
but found their way into the hold, and armed 
themselves with knives from a cask, which had 
been opened for trade. One of them being called 
to in the African tongue by a black trader, who 
was then on board, came up, but with a knife in 
each hand ; when one of the crew, supposing him 
yet hostile, shot him in the right side, and killed 
him on the spot. 

The other remained in the hold for twelve 
hours. Scalding water mixed with fat was poured 
down upon him, to make him come up. Though 
his flesh was painfully blistered by these means, 
he kept below. A promise was then made to him 
in the African tongue by the same trader, that 
no injury should be done him, if he would come 
among them. To this at length he consented. 
But on observing, when he was about half way 
up, that a sailor was armed between decks, he 
flew to him, and clasped him, and threw him 
down. The sailor fired his pistol in the scuffle, 
but without effect. He contrived, however, to 
fracture his skull with the butt-end of it, so that 
the slave died on the third day. 

The second circumstance took place after the 
arrival of the same vessel at St. Vincent's. There 


was a boy-slave on board, who was very ill and 
emaciated. The mate, who, by his cruelty, had 
been the author of the former mischief, did not 
choose to expose him to sale with the rest, lest 
the small sum he would fetch in that situation 
should lower the average price, and thus bring 
down* the value of the privileges of the officers 
of the ship. This boy was kept on board, and 
no provisions allowed him. The mate had sug- 
gested the propriety of throwing him overboard, 
but no one would do it. On the ninth day he ex- 
pired, having never been allowed any sustenance 
during that time. 

I asked Mr. Arnold if he was willing to give 
evidence of these facts in both cases. He said 
he had only one objection, which was, that in two 
or three days he was to go in the Ruby, on his 
third voyage : but on leaving me, he said that he 
would take an affidavit before the mayor of the 
truth of any of those things which he had related 
to me, if that would do ; but, from motives of 
safety, he should not choose to do this till within 
a few hours before he sailed. 

In two or three days after this, he sent for me. 
He said the Ruby would leave King-road the 
next day, and that he was ready to do as he had 

* Officers are said to be allowed the privilege of one or more 
slaves, according to their rank. When the cargo is sold, the sum 
total fetched is put down, and this being divided by the number of 
slaves sold, gives the average price of each. Such officers, then, 
receive this average price for one or more slaves, according to their 
privileges, but never the slaves themselves. 

vol. i. 22* 


promised. Depositions were accordingly made 
out from his own words. I went with him to the 
residence of George Daubeny, esquire, who was 
then chief magistrate of the city, and they were 
sworn to in his presence, and witnessed as the law 

On taking my leave of him, I asked him how 
he could go a third time in such a barbarous em- 
ploy. He said he had been distressed. In his 
voyage in the Alexander he had made nothing ; 
for he had been so ill used, that he had solicited 
his discharge in Grenada, where, being paid in 
currency, he had but little to receive. When he 
arrived in Bristol from that island, he was quite 
penny less ; and finding the Little Pearl going out, 
he was glad to get on board her as her surgeon, 
which he then did entirely for the sake of bread. 
He said, moreover, that she was but a small ves- 
sel, and that his savings had been but small in 
her. This occasioned him to apply for the Ruby, 
his present ship ; but if he survived this voyage 
he would never go another. I then put the same 
question to him as to Gardiner, and he promised to 
keep a journal of facts and to give his evidence, 
if called upon, on his return. 

The reader will see, from this account, the dif- 
ficulty I had in procuring evidence from this port. 
The owners of vessels employed in the trade 
there, forbad all intercourse with me. The old 
captains, Avho had made their fortunes in it, would 
not see me. The young, who were making them, 
could not be supposed to espouse my cause, to 


the detriment of their own interest. Of those 
whose necessities made them go into it for a 
livelihood^ I could not get one to come forward, 
without doing so much for him as would have 
amounted to bribery. Thus, when I got one of 
these into my possession, I was obliged to let him 
go again. I was, however, greatly consoled by 
the consideration, that I had procured two senti- 
nels to be stationed in the enemy's camp, who 
keeping a journal of different facts, would bring me 
some important intelligence at a future period. 


Author goes to Monmouth — confers relative to a petition from 
that place — returns to bristol — is introduced to alexander 
Falconbridge— takes cne of the mates of the Africa out of 
that ship — visits disabled seamen from the ship thomas — puts 
a chief mate into prison for the murder of wllliam llnes. — 
ill usage of seamen in various other slave-vessels — secures 
Crutwell's Bath paper in favor of the abolition — lays the 
foundation of a committee at bristol — and of a petition from 
thence also — takes his leave of that city. 

By this time I began to feel the effect of my 
labors upon my constitution. It had been my 
practice to go home in the evening to my lodg- 
ings, about twelve o'clock, and then to put down 
the occurrences of the day* This usually kept me 
up till one, and sometimes till nearly two in the 
morning. When I went my rounds in Marsh- 
street, I seldom got home till two, and into bed 


till three. My clothes, also, were frequently wet 
through with the rains. The cruel accounts I was 
daily in the habit of hearing, both with respect to 
the slaves, and to the seamen employed in this 
wicked trade, from which, indeed, my mind had 
no respite, often broke my sleep in the night, and 
occasioned me to awake in an agitated state. All 
these circumstances concurred in affecting my 
health. I looked thin ; my countenance became 
yellow. I had also rheumatic feelings. My 
friends, seeing this, prevailed upon me to give 
myself two or three days relaxation. And as a 
gentleman, of whom I had some knowledge, was 
going into Carmarthenshire, I accompanied him 
as far as Monmouth. 

After our parting at this place, I became rest- 
less and uneasy, and longed to get back to my 
work. I thought, however,, that my journey ought 
not to be wholly useless to the cause ; and hear- 
ing that Dr. Davis, a clergyman at Monmouth, 
was a man of considerable weight among the in- 
habitants, I took the liberty of writing him a let- 
ter, in which I stated who I was, and the way in 
which I had lately employed myself, and the great 
wish I had to be favored with an interview with 
him ; and I did not conceal that it would be very 
desirable, if the inhabitants of the place could 
have that information on the subject which would 
warrant them in so doing, that they should peti- 
tion the legislature for the abolition of the Slave- 
trade. Dr. Davis returned me an answer, and 
received me. The questions which he put to me 


Were judicious. He asked me, first, whether, if 
the slaves were emancipated, there would not be 
much confusion in the islands ? I told him that 
the emancipation of them was no part of our plan. 
We solicited nothing but the stopping of all future 
importations of them into the islands. He then 
asked what the planters would do for laborers. 
I replied, they would find sufficient from an in- 
crease of the native population, if they were obliged 
to pay attention to the latter means. We dis* 
coursed a long time upon this last topic. I have 
not room to give the many other questions he pro- 
posed to me. No one was ever more judiciously 
questioned. In my turn, I put him into posses- 
sion of all the discoveries I had made. He ac- 
knowledged the injustice of the trade. He con- 
fessed, also, that my conversation had enlightened 
him as to the impolicy of it ; and taking some 
of my Summary Views to distribute, he said, he 
hoped that the inhabitants would, after the pe- 
rusal of them, accede to my request. 

On my return to Bristol, my friends had pro*, 
cured for me an interview with Mr. Alexander 
Falconbridge, who had been to the coast of Africa, 
as a surgeon, for four voyages ; one in the Tartar, 
another in the Alexander, and two in the Emilia, 

On my introduction to him, I asked him if he 
had any objection to give me an account of the 
cruelties, which were said to be connected with 
the Slave-trade. He answered, without any re*, 
serve, that he had not ; for that he had now done 


with it. Never were any words more welcome 
to my ears than these, " Yes ; I have done with 
the trade," and he said also, that he was free to 
give me information concerning it. Was he not, 
then, one of the very persons, whom I had so long 
been seeking, but in vain 1 

To detail the accounts which he gave me at 
this and at subsequent interviews, relative to the 
different branches of this trade, would fill no ordi- 
nary volume. Suffice it to say in general terms, 
as far as relates to the slaves, that he confirmed 
the various violent and treacherous methods of pro- 
curing them in their own country ; their wretched 
condition, in consequence of being crowded to- 
gether, in the passage ; their attempts to rise in 
defence of their own freedom, and when this was 
impracticable, to destroy themselves by the refusal 
of sustenance, by jumping overboard into the sea, 
and in other ways ; the effect also of their situa- 
tion upon their minds, by producing insanity and 
various diseases ; and the cruel manner of dis- 
posing of them in the West Indies, and of separa- 
ting relatives and friends. 

With respect to the seamen employed in this 
trade, he commended captain Frazer for his kind 
usage to them, under whom he had so long serv- 
ed. The handsome way in which he spoke of 
the latter pleased me much, because I was wil- 
ling to deduce from it his own impartiality, and 
because I thought I might infer from it also his 
regard to truth as to other parts of his narrative. 
Indeed I had been before acquainted with this cir- 


eumstance. Thompson, of the Seven Stars, had 
informed me that Frazer was the only man sail- 
ing out of that port for slaves, who had not been 
guilty of cruelty to his seamen : and Mr. Burges 
alluded to it, when he gave me advice not to pro- 
ceed against the captain of the Alfred ; for he then 
said, as I mentioned in a former chapter, " that 
he knew but one captain in the trade, who did not 
deserve long ago to be hanged." Mr. Falcon- 
bridge, however, stated, that though he had been 
thus fortunate in the Tartar and Emilia, he had 
been as unfortunate in the Alexander ; for he be- 
lieved there were no instances upon naval record, 
taken altogether, of greater barbarity, than of that 
which had been exercised towards the seamen in 
this voyage. In running over these, it struck me 
that I had heard of the same from some other 
quarter, or at least that these were so like the 
others, that I was surprised at their coincidence. 
On taking out my notes, I looked for the names 
of those whom I recollected to have been used in 
this manner ; and on desiring Mr. Falconbridge 
to mention the names of those also to whom he 
alluded, they turned out to be the same. The 
mystery, however, was soon cleared up, when I 
told him from whom I had received my intelli- 
gence : for Mr. Arnold, the last-mentioned person 
in the last chapter, had been surgeon's mate under 
Mr. Falconbridge in the same vessel. 

There was one circumstance of peculiar impor- 
tance, but quite new to me, which I collected 
from the information which Mr. Falconbridge had 


given me. This was, that many of the seamen, 
who left the slave-ships in the West Indies were 
in such a weak, ulcerated, and otherwise dis- 
eased state, that they perished there. Several 
also of those who came home with the vessels, 
were in the same deplorable condition. This was 
the case, Mr. Falcoubridge said, with some who 
returned in the Alexander. It was the case also 
w x ith many others ; for he had been a pupil, for 
twelve months, in the Bristol Infirmary, and had 
had ample means of knowing the fact. The 
greatest number of seamen, at almost all times, 
who were there, were from the slave-vessels. 
These, too, were usually there on account of dis- 
ease, whereas those from other ships were usually 
there on account of accidents. The health of 
some of the former was so far destroyed, that they 
were never wholly to be restored. This informa- 
tion was of great importance ; for it showed that 
they who were reported dead upon the muster- 
rolls, were not all that were lost to the country by 
the prosecution of this wicked trade. Indeed, it 
was of so much importance, that in all my future 
interviews with others, which were for the purpose 
of collecting evidence, I never forgot to make it a 
subject of inquiry. 

I can hardly say how precious I considered the 
facts with which Mr. Falconbridge had furnished 
me from his own experience, relative to the dif- 
ferent branches of this commerce. They were so 
precious, that I began now to be troubled lest I 
should lose them. For, though he had thus pri- 


vately unbosomed himself to me, it did not fol- 
low that he would come forward . as a public evi- 
dence. I was not a little uneasy on this account. 
I was fearful lest, when I should put this question 
to him, his future plan of life, or some little nar- 
row consideration of future interest, would pre- 
vent him from giving his testimony, and I delayed 
asking him for many days. During this time, 
however, I frequently visited him ; and at length, 
when I thought I was better acquainted, and 
probably in some little estimation, with him, I 
ventured to open my wishes on this subject. He 
answered me boldly, and at once, that he had left 
the trade upon principle, and that he would state 
all he knew concerning it, either publicly or pri- 
vately, and at any time when he should be called 
upon to do it. This answer produced such an 
effect upon me, after all my former disappoint- 
ments, that I felt it all over my frame. It ope- 
rated like a sudden shock, which often disables 
the impressed person for a time. So the joy I 
felt rendered me quite useless, as to business, for 
the remainder of the day. 

I began to perceive in a little time the advan- 
tage of having cultivated an acquaintance with 
Thompson of the Seven Stars. For nothing could 
now pass in Bristol, relative to the seamen em- 
ployed in this trade, but it was soon brought to 
me. If there was any thing amiss, I had so 
arranged matters that I was sure to hear of it, 
He sent for me one day to inform me that several 
qf the seamen, who had been sent out of Marsh- 

vol. i. 23 


street into the Prince, which was then at King- 
road, and on the point of sailing to Africa for 
slaves, had, through fear of ill usage on the voy- 
age, taken the boat and put themselves on shore. 
He informed me at the same time that the sea- 
men of the Africa, which was lying there also and 
ready to sail on a like voyage, were not satisfied, 
for that they had been made to sign their articles 
of agreement, without being permitted to see 
them. To this he added that Mr. Sheriff, one of 
the mates of the latter vessel, was unhappy also 
on this account. Sheriff had been a mate in the 
West India trade, and was a respectable man in 
his line. He had been enticed by the captain of 
the Africa, under the promise of peculiar advan- 
tages, to change his voyage. Having a wife and 
family at Bristol, he was willing to make a sacri- 
fice on their account. But when he himself was 
not permitted to read the articles, he began to sus- 
pect bad work, and that there would be nothing 
but misery in the approaching voyage. Thomp- 
son entreated me to extricate him, if I could. 
He was sure, he said, if he went to the Coast with 
that man, meaning the captain, that he would 
never return alive. 

I was very unwilling to refuse any thing to 
Thompson. I was deeply bound to him in grati- 
tude for the many services he had rendered me, 
but I scarcely saw how I could serve him on this 
occasion. I promised, however, to speak to him 
in an hour's time. I consulted my friend Truman 
Harford in the interim ; and. the result was, that 


he and I should proceed to King-road in a boat, 
go on board the Africa, and charge the captain in 
person with what he had done, and desire him to 
discharge Sheriff, as no agreement, where fraud 
or force was used in the signatures, could be 
deemed valid. If we were not able to extricate 
Sheriff by these means, we thought that at least 
we should know, by inquiring of those whom we 
should see on board, whether the measure of hin- 
dering the men from seeing their articles on sign- 
ing them had been adopted. It would be useful 
to ascertain this, because such a measure had 
been long reported to be usual in this, but was 
said to be unknown in any other trade. 

Having passed the river's mouth and rowed 
towards the sea, we came near the Prince first, 
but pursued our destination to the Africa. Mr. 
Sheriff was the person who received us on board. 
I did not know him till I asked his name. I then 
told him my errand, with which he seemed to be 
much pleased. On asking him to tell the captain 
that I wished to speak with him, he replied that he 
was on shore. This put me to great difficulty, as 
I did not know then what to do. I consulted with 
Truman Harford, and it was our opinion, that we 
should inquire of the seamen, but in a very quiet 
manner, by going individually to each, if they had 
ever demanded to see the articles on signing them, 
and if they had been refused. We proposed this 
question to them. They replied, that the captain 
had refused them in a savage manner, making use 
of threats and oaths. There was not one contra- 


dictory voice on this occasion. We then asked 
Mr. Sheriff what we were to do. He entreated 
vis by all means to take him on shore. He was 
sure that under such a man as the captain, and 
particularly after the circumstance of our coming 
on board should be made known to him, he would 
never come from the coast of Africa alive. Upon 
this, Truman Harford called me aside, and told 
me the danger of taking an officer from the ship ; 
for that, if any accident should happen to her, the 
damage might all fall upon me. I then inquired 
of Mr. Sheriff if there was any officer on board, 
who could manage the ship. He pointed one out 
to me, and I spoke to him in the cabin. This 
person told me I need be under no apprehension 
about the vessel, but that every one would be 
sorry to lose Mr. Sheriff. Upon this ground, Tru- 
man Harford, who had felt more for me than for 
himself, became now easy. We had before con- 
cluded, that the obtaining any signature by fraud 
or force would render the agreement illegal. We 
therefore joined in opinion, that we might take 
away the man. His chest was accordingly put 
into our boat. We jumped into it with our rowers, 
and he followed us, surrounded by the seamen, 
all of whom took an affectionate leave of him, and 
expressed their regret at parting. Soon after this 
there was a general cry of " Will you take me 
too V*. from the deck ; and such a sudden move- 
ment appeared there, that we were obliged to push 
off directly from the side, fearing that many would 
jump into our boat and go with us. 


After having left the ship, Sheriff corroborated 
the desertion of the seamen from the Prince, as be- 
fore related to me by Thompson. He spoke also 
of the savage disposition of his late captain, which 
he had even dared to manifest though lying in an 
English port. I was impressed by this account of 
his rough manners ; and the wind having risen 
before and the surf now rolling heavily, I began 
to think what an escape I might have had ; how 
easy it would have been for the savage captain, if 
he had been on board, or for any one at his insti- 
gation, to have pushed me over the ship's side. 
This was the first time I had ever considered the 
peril of the undertaking. But we arrived safe ; 
and though on the same evening I left my name 
at the captain's house, as that of the person who 
had taken away his mate, I never heard more 
about it. 

In pursuing my inquiries into the new topic 
suggested by Mr. Falconbridge, I learnt that two 
or three of the seamen of the ship Thomas, which 
had been arrived now nearly a year from the 
Coast, were in a very crippled and deplorable 
state. I accordingly went to see them. One of 
them had been attacked by a fever, arising from 
circumstances connected with these voyages. The 
inflammation, which had proceeded from it, had 
reached his eyes. It could not be dispersed ; and 
the consequence was, that, he was then blind. The 
second was lame. He had badly ulcerated legs, 
and appeared to be very weak. The third was a 
mere spectre. I think he was the most pitiable 

vol. i. 23 * 


object I ever saw. I considered him as irrecover- 
ably gone. They all complained to me of their 
bad usage on board the Thomas. They said they 
had heard of my being in Bristol, and they hoped 
I would not leave it, without inquiring into the 
murder of William Lines. 

On inquiring who William Lines was, they in- 
formed me that he had been one of the crew of the 
same ship, and that all on board believed that he 
had been killed by the chief mate ; but they them- 
selves had not been present when the blows were 
given him. They had not seen him till after- 
wards ; but their shipmates had told them of his 
cruel treatment, and they knew that soon after- 
wards he had died. 

In the course of the next day, the mother of 
Lines, who lived in Bristol, came to me and re- 
lated the case. I told her there was no evidence 
as to the fact, for that I had seen three seamen, 
who could not speak to it from their own knowl- 
edge. She said there were four others then in 
Bristol who could. I desired her to fetch them. 
When they arrived I examined each separately, 
and cross-examined them in the best manner I 
was able. I could find no variation in their ac- 
count, and I was quite convinced that the murder 
had taken place. The mother was then importu- 
nate that I should take up the case. I was too 
much affected by the narration I had heard to re- 
fuse her wholly, and yet I did not promise that I 
would. I begged a little time to consider of it. 
During this I thought of consulting my friend 


Burges. Bat I feared he would throw cold water 
upon it, as he had done in the case of the captain 
of the Alfred. I remembered well what he had 
then said to me, and yet I felt a strong disposition 
to proceed. For the trade was still going on. 
Every day, perhaps, some new act of barbarity 
was taking place. And one example, if made, 
might counteract the evil for a time. I seemed 
therefore to incline to stir in this matter, and 
thought, if I should get into any difficulty about 
it, it would be better to do it without consulting 
Mr. Burges, than, after having done it, to fly as 
it were in his face. I then sent for the woman, 
and told her, that she might appear with the wit- 
nesses at the Common Hall, where the magis- 
trates usually sat on a certain day. 

We all met at the time appointed, and I deter- 
mined to sit as near to the mayor as I could get. 
The hall was unusually crowded. One or two 
slave-merchants, and two or three others, who 
were largely concerned in the West India trade, 
were upon the bench. For I had informed the 
mayor the day before of my intention, and he, it 
appeared, had informed them. I shall never for- 
get the savage looks which these people gave me ; 
which indeed were so remarkable, as to occasion 
the eyes of the whole court to be turned upon 
me. They looked as if they were going to speak 
to me, and the people looked as if they expected 
me to say something in return. They then got 
round the mayor, and began to whisper to him, as 
I supposed, on the business before it should come 


on. One of them, however, said aloud to the for- 
mer, but fixing his eyes upon me, and wishing me 
to overhear him, " Scandalous reports had lately 
been spread, but sailors were not used worse in 
Guineamen than in other vessels." This brought 
the people's eyes upon me again. I was very 
much irritated, but I thought it improper to say 
any thing. Another, looking savagely at me, 
said to the mayor, " that he had known captain 
Vicars a long time ; that he was an honorable 
man,* and would not allow such usage in his 
ship. There were always vagabonds to hatch up 
things :" and he made a dead point at me, by put- 
ting himself into a posture which attracted the 
notice of those present, and by staring me in the 
face. I could now no longer restrain myself, and 
I said aloud in as modest a manner as 1 could, 
"You, sir, may know many things which 1 do not. 
But this I know, that if you do not do your duty, 
you are amenable to a higher court." The mayor 
upon this looked at me, and directly my friend 
Mr. Burges, who was sitting as the clerk to the 
magistrates, went to him and whispered some- 
thing in his ear ; after which all private conver- 

* "We may well imagine what this person's notion of another 
man's honor was ; for he was the purser of the Brothers and of the 
Alfred, who, as before mentioned, sent the captains of those ships 
out a second voyage, after knowing their barbarities in the former. 
And he was also the purser of this very ship Thomas, where the 
murder had been committed. I by no means, however, wish by 
these observations to detract from the character of captain Vicars^ 
as he had no concern in the cruel deed* 


sation between the mayor and others ceased, and 
the hearing was ordered to come on. 

I shall not detain the reader by giving an ac- 
count of the evidence which then transpired. The 
four witnesses were examined, and the case was 
so far clear. Captain Vicars, however was sent 
for. On being questioned, he did not deny that 
there had been bad usage, but said that the young 
man had died with the flux. But this assertion 
went for nothing when balanced against the facts 
which had come out ; and this was so evident, 
that an order was made out for the apprehension 
of the chief mate. He was accordingly taken up. 
The next day, however, there was a rehearing of 
the case, when he was returned to the jail, where 
he was to lie till the Lords of the Admiralty 
should order a sessions to be held for the trial of 
offences committed on the high seas. 

This public examination of the case of William 
Lines, and the way in which it ended, produced 
an extraordinary result ; for after this time the 
slave-captains and mates, who used to meet me 
suddenly, used as suddenly to start from me, in- 
deed to the other side of the pavement, as if I had 
been a wolf, or tiger, or some dangerous beast 
of prey. Such of them as saw me before hand, 
used to run up the cross streets or lanes, which 
were nearest to them, to get away. Seamen, too, 
came from various quarters to apply to me for 
redress. One came to me, who had been treated 
ill in the Alexander, when Mr. Falconbridge had 
been the surgeon of her. Three came to me, who 


had been ill used in the voyage which followed, 
though she had then sailed under a new captain. 
Two applied to me from the Africa, who had been 
of her crew in the last voyage. Two from the 
Fly. Two from the Wasp. One from the Little 
Pearl, and three from the Pilgrim or Princess, 
when she was last upon the coast. 

The different scenes of barbarity, which these 
represented to me, greatly added to the affliction 
of my mind. My feelings became now almost 
insupportable. I was agonized to think that this 
trade should last another day. I was in a state 
of agitation from morning till night. I determined 
I would soon leave Bristol. I saw nothing but 
misery in the place. I had collected now, I be- 
lieved, all the evidence it would afford ; and to 
stay in it a day longer than was necessary, would 
be only an interruption for so much time both of 
my happiness and of my health. I determined 
therefore to do only two or three things, which 
I thought to be proper, and to depart in a few 

And first I went to Bath, where I endeavored 
to secure the respectable paper belonging to that 
city in favor of the abolition of the Slave-trade. 
This I did entirely to my satisfaction, by relating 
to the worthy editor all the discoveries I had 
made, and by impressing his mind in a forcible 
manner on the subject. And it is highly to the 
honor of Mr. Crutwell, that from that day he 
never ceased to defend our cause ; that he never 
made a charge for insertions of any kind ; but that 


he considered all he did upon this occasion in the 
light of a duty, or as his mite given in charity to 
a poor and oppressed people. 

The next attempt was to lay the foundation of 
a committee in Bristol, and of a petition to Par- 
liament from it for the abolition of the Slave- 
trade. I had now made many friends. A gen- 
tleman of the name of Paynter had felt himself 
much interested in my labors. Mr. Joseph Har- 
ford, a man of fortune, of great respectability of 
character, and of considerable influence, had at- 
tached himself to the cause. Dr. Fox had as- 
sisted me in it. Mr. Hughes, a clergyman of the 
Baptist church, was anxious and ready to serve it. 
Dr. Camplin, of the Establishment, with several of 
his friends, continued steady. Matthew Wright, 
James Harford, Truman Harford, and all the 
Quakers to a man, were strenuous, and this on 
the best of principles, in its support. To all 
these I spoke, and I had the pleasure of seeing 
that my wishes were likely in a short time to be 
gratified in both these cases. 

It was now necessary that I should write to the 
committee in London. I had written to them only 
two letters, during my absence ; for I had devoted 
myself so much to the great object I had under- 
taken, that I could think of little else. Hence 
some of my friends among them were obliged to 
write to different persons at Bristol, to inquire if I 
was alive. I gave up a day or two, therefore, to 
this purpose. I informed the committee of all my 
discoveries in the various branches to which my 


attention had been directed, and desired them in 
return to procure me various official documents 
for the port of London, which I then specified. 
Having done this, I conferred with Mr. Falcon- 
bridge, relative to being with me at Liverpool. I 
thought it right to make him no other offer than 
that his expenses should be paid. He acceded 
to my request on these disinterested terms ; and 
I took my departure from Bristol, leaving him to 
follow rne in a few days. 








Hints to Parents on the Early Reli- 
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, 4 

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From the New-York Observer. 

Christian's Pocket- Companion, — This very small but 
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The Practical Thoughts consists of forty-six articles on 
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