Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Only the Royal company was named in the agreement, but all British traders were to participate in the trade. It was contracted on the part of the Spanish that they would take at least 4,800 negroes a year for thirty years, and that the company might sell as many more as it could for twenty-five years at any Spanish-American port except three. In return for this the company paid 200,000 crowns spot cash, a duty of 33 crowns on each slave landed, and a quarter of its profits each to the Spanish and the British kings.

This contract is found in Article 16 of the Treaty of Utrecht, which was signed on April 11, 1713. Although England obtained by this treaty the Hudson Bay Territory, Acadia, Newfoundland, and Gibraltar, this slave-trade article "was regarded as one of the greatest triumphs of the pacification of 1713."

At the time of this treaty London and Bristol were the slave-ship ports of England, and Newport was the chief one in America. Liverpool entered the slave trade previous to 1730, with "a single barque of thirty tons."

The vessel had half the capacity of one of the sailing lighters common to New York Harbor. An Erie Canal boat carries two hundred and forty tons. But the little bark was profitable, and the trade grew after 1731 until in 1752 Liverpool had eighty-seven vessels in the trade, Bristol one hundred and fifty-seven, and London one hundred and thirty-five. The Liverpool merchants built such sharp and swift ships for the trade that a special wet dock, that would keep them afloat during ebb tide while in that port, had to

be built for them. The present great dock system of Liverpool originated in the needs of the slavetraders.

In those days the ship-chandlers of Liverpool made special displays in their windows of such things as handcuffs, leg-shackles, iron collars, short and long chains, and furnaces and copper kettles designed for slavers' use. The newspapers were full of advertisements of slaves and slaver goods. "The young bloods of the town deemed it fine amusement to circulate handbills in which negro girls were offered for sale." An artist of wide repute-Stothard-painted "The voyage of the Sable Venus from Angola to the West Indies." The Merchants' Exchange, or Town Hall, as it was called, was ornamented in a way that was strikingly appropriate, for "between the capitals runs an entablature or fillet, on which are placed in base-relief the busts of blackamoors and elephants, with the teeth of the latter, with suchlike emblematical figures representing the African trade and commerce." The merchants of Liverpool needed no Ruskin to suggest "pendant purses" for decorating a frieze, or "pillars broad at the base, for the sticking of bills," when they were building a market-place.

In America the New England colonies took the lead in the slave-trade. Barefooted boys waded through the snow to find berths in the forecastles of the colony ships, and, hard as sailor life was then, they found more comforts afloat than on the farms they left behind. And once afloat the Yankee boy worked his way aft as readily as he climbed the ratlines when ordered to reef topsails.

"At the very birth of foreign commerce from New England ports," says one writer,* "the African slave trade became a regular business." The Desire, as already mentioned, was a slaver. "The ships which took cargoes of staves and fish to Madeira and the Canaries were accustomed to touch on the coast of Guinea to trade for negroes, who were carried generally to Barbadoes, or the other English islands of the West Indies."

The Massachusetts statute of 1705, which is curiously enough often quoted as showing that the people there were opposed to the slave-trade, was carefully worded to promote the trade. It did, indeed, lay a tax of four pounds on each negro imported, but "a drawback was allowed upon exportation." "The harbors of New England were thus offered as a free exchange-mart for slavers."

In Rhode Island "Governor Cranston, as early as 1708, reported that between 1698 and 1708 one hundred and three vessels were built in that State, all of which were trading to the West Indies and the Southern colonies. They took out lumber and brought back molasses" in the direct trade, but "in most cases made a slave voyage in between."

According to the "Reminiscences of Samuel Hopkins," Rhode Island had one hundred and fifty vessels in the African slave-trade in 1770. Hopkins wrote in that year saying: "Rhode Island has been more deeply interested in the slave-trade, and has enslaved more Africans than any other colony in New England."

In 1787 he wrote again: "This trade in human

* History of Slavery in Massachusetts, by Geo. H. Moore.

species has been the first wheel of commerce in Newport, on which every other movement in business has depended. That town has been built up, and flourished in times past" on the slave-trade, "and by it [the inhabitants] have gotten most of their wealth and riches."

CHAPTER II

OLD-TIME SLAVER CAPTAINS AND THEIR SHIPS

David Lindsay as a Typical American Slaver of the Eighteenth Century-With a Rotten Ship that Showed Daylight Through Her Seams "Al Round Her Bow Under Deck " He Reached the Slave Coast, Gathered His Cargo in Spite of Fevers, Deaths in the Crew, and Competition, and Finally Landed at Barbadoes with "All in Helth and Fatt "—An Astrologer's Chart for a Slaver's Voyage-Tales of the Slaver Vikings of Liverpool-Debt of Early American Commerce to the Slave Trade-John Paul Jones a Slaver.

DETAILS of the characters of the men and of the ships that were engaged in the American slave-trade during the eighteenth century are lamentably hard to find in these days, but fortunately such as remain to us are sufficiently graphic and significant.

For a type of the Yankee slavers of the day we may very well choose Captain David Lindsay, who hailed from Newport, R. I., in the middle of the eighteenth century, when that town was one of the liveliest of American ports. His story has been preserved in a considerable number of letters and documents that were printed in the American Historical Record some years ago.

The earliest mention of Captain Lindsay's existence is found in a letter that comes literally from the seaa letter that is dated "June ye 13 1740 at Sea Latt. 8°

« AnteriorContinuar »