Imágenes de páginas

and there was at least, on the average, a vessel a week from that port the year round. Norfolk was a port about as lively, and Baltimore and Richmond were not far behind. Apparently two hundred vessels carried a hundred slaves each to a Southern market every year from the waters of Virginia.

In the Democratic Review, of New York, for July, 1858, in an article entitled "Visitation and Search of Vessels," wherein an argument is made in favor of reopening the over-sea slave-trade, the editor says of the over-sea and the coast trades:

"We aver that if one is wrong, then both are wrong; that if one is right, then both are right. We enter protest against such absurd definitions and distinctions as have been made by Congress."



A Cuban Coastwise Slaver that may have been Used to Smuggle Slaves into the United States-On the Way from Havana to Puerto Principe the Slaves Overpowered the Crew, and Started Back to Africa, but were Beguiled to Long Island-Judicially Decided that Slaves Unlawfully Held have a Right to Take Human Life in a Stroke for Liberty.

ON August 26, 1839, the United States brig Washington, Captain Thomas R. Gedney, was engaged in surveying the water between Gardiner's Island and Montauk Point, L. I., when a schooner was seen at anchor well in shore near Culloden Point. There were a number of people on the beach with carts and horses, and a boat was passing to and fro between the stranger and the shore.

Apparently here was a smuggler at work in broad daylight, and Captain Gedney at once sent a boat, with six armed men, in charge of Lieutenant Richard W. Meade and Passed Midshipman David D. Porter to investigate. They found her "a Baltimore-built vessel of matchless model for speed, about one hundred and twenty tons burden, and about six years old. On her deck were grouped, amid various goods and arms, the remnant of her Ethiope crew, some decked in the most fantastic manner in the silks and finery pil

fered from the cargo, while others in a state of nudity, emaciated to mere skeletons, lay coiled on the decks.

"Over the decks were scattered, in the most wanton and disorderly profusion, raisins, vermicelli, bread, rice, silk, and cotton goods. In the cabin and hold were the marks of the same wasteful destruction.

"Her cargo appeared to consist of silks, crepes, calicoes, fancy goods of various descriptions, glass and hardware, bridles, saddles, holsters, pictures, lookingglasses, books, fruits, olives, olive-oil, and other things too numerous to mention." So runs an old newspaper account.

As soon as the United States officers reached her deck two white men came to them, one begging for protection, while the other, an elderly man, threw his arms around Lieutenant Meade and held him in an embrace that made the lieutenant think the man intended violence. Drawing a pistol, Meade thrust it in his face, when the man retreated, and his companion, a young man of good address, who spoke English fluently, began an explanation.

He said his name was Jose Ruiz and that of the demonstrative elder was Pedro Montez. No offence was intended by Montez; on the contrary, his embrace was but a manifestation of gratitude. The queer little schooner, he continued, was the Amistad, of Havana, where she was owned and commanded by Captain Ramon Ferrar. She had sailed from Havana on June 27th, bound for Guanaja, in the Cuban state of Puerto Principe, but on the night of June 30th the slaves on the ship had mutinied, killed the captain and cook, sent the two sailors ashore in the boat, and ordered him (Ruiz) and Pedro Montez to navigate the ship to

Africa. Under fear of death the Amistad had been steered toward the east by day, but at night she had been headed for the United States. So it had happened that they had been for several days within a few miles of Long Island, and had finally anchored where found in order to get food and water.

As to the negroes, Ruiz said that one called Antonio was the property of the slain captain, three belonged to Pedro Montez, while the remainder, forty-nine in number, were his own property.

On hearing that, Meade sent Porter ashore with four men to round up the blacks there. The blacks on shore got into their boat and started rowing out to the schooner, but Porter stopped them with a pistol shot, and took them on board the schooner under guard. Once there, their leader, called Cinque, leaped overboard with a belt containing three hundred doubloons, and went "diving and swimming like a fish" for shore, but he was hauled back on board with a boat-hook in the hands of a grinning quartermaster.

Meantime Captain Gedney had brought the Washington alongside, and on hearing the reports of his officers decided to take the schooner to New London, where he libelled her for salvage. And then the trouble began.

Señor A. Calderon, who was then the Spanish Minister at Washington, at once demanded the vessel and cargo under the treaty with Spain dated 1795. One article of this treaty was quoted as exactly covering the case. It said:

"All ships and merchandise of what nature soever, which shall be rescued out of the hands of any pi rates or robbers on the high seas shall be brought into

some port of either State and shall be delivered to the custody of the officers of that port, in order to be taken care of and restored entire to the true proprietor as soon as due and sufficient proof shall be made concerning the property thereof.”

The words in italics were so emphasized when quoted in Señor Calderon's demand. Very naturally the Washington officials were entirely willing to grant the demand. Under our laws slaves were property, and here were negroes in charge of a ship which they had taken by force from its owner. Further than that, these negroes were, according to the papers of the ship and the passports of the two Spaniards Ruiz and Montez, slaves. Ruiz, for instance, produced a passport issued by the captain of the port of Havana, in due form, dated 26 de junio (June) de 1839, which read in Spanish thus: "Concedo licencia, á cuarenta y nueva negros ladinos, nombrados," etc. The names of the negroes followed.

The Spanish words are given because of their bearing on the case, as will appear further on. So far as the papers appeared, everything was in proper form.

Meantime, however, the negroes, who were put in jail at New London, had found friends who were willing to spend money to see that they had a fair trial, were that possible in the existing state of civilization. These friends saw the passport which Ruiz exhibited as proof of ownership of the forty-nine negroes, and they were able to translate it. The translation offered by Ruiz and accepted by our Government, and so printed in a message of the President on the subject, read as follows:

"I concede license to forty-nine sound negroes," la

« AnteriorContinuar »