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HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
NEW YORK, March 1, 1788.
MY DEAR SIR, -At the last meeting of our society for promoting the manumission of slaves, the case of the three negroes who were stolen from Boston was mentioned, and a committee directed to attend to that business. I think it probable that we shall hear more of it. I wish to hear what effect this matter has in your State.
The New Hampshire delegates seem to be pretty clear that the new Constitution will be adopted there, though there will be opposition to it.
Your letters were duly forwarded. I have not heard from Mr. Morse since. We expect him here soon to supply our vacant pulpit. We have no news. I must have done. Good-night. EBEN. HAZARD.
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
MY DEAR SIR,- The Magazine which accompanies this ought to have been sent before, but I could not attend to it, and can now only enclose it, and present you and Colonel Waters Mr. Wilson's farewell sermon, with fresh assurances of the regard of
BELKNAP TO HAZARD.
BOSTON, 2 March, 1788. And a dismal cold evening it is!
DEAR SIR, - Having nothing from you by last night's post, I have nothing in particular to say; but, as I have Mr. Morse's matter ready, I enclose it, with a copy (or
rather the original) of a petition to the General Court, now sitting, which is to be presented next Tuesday. It is signed by about 90, and will have more hands to it.
The negroes themselves have been put on preferring a petition to the same purpose. I read it last evening. It is a truly original and curious performance, written by the Grand Master of the Black Lodge. When I can get a copy of it (which I have in expectation), I will send it Yours affectionately,
To the Honourable the Senate, and the Honourable House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in General Court assembled. The Memorial and Petition of the Subscribers humbly sheweth:
That they have, in common with many of their fellow-citizens, long wished for a total abolition of that nefarious traffick which, to the disgrace of civilized nations, professing Christianity, has too long been permitted, from the coast of Africa to the West Indies, and other places, whereby the lives and liberty of thousands of innocent persons have been annually sacrificed to the lust of gain.
That though the Constitution and Laws of this Commonwealth, in their just construction and effect, have remedied this horrid evil, as far as it respects the introduction and continuance of the slavery of the negroes among ourselves, yet we still reflect, with the most poignant grief, on the want of a law which shall totally prohibit any of the citizens of this Commonwealth from engaging in the aforesaid traffic in foreign countries, and which shall effectually prevent the innocent blacks among ourselves from being decoyed on board outward bound vessells, for the purpose of being transported to foreign countries as articles of merchandise.
Your petitioners have been informed that it was in contemplation with your Honours, in a late session of the General Court, to put a final stop to this inglorious stain upon our national character; and it is now our most earnest petition and hope that you will again take the matter under your consideration, and pass a law which shall prohibit, under the severest penalties, the owning, fitting out, and insuring any vessells intended to be sent to the coast of Africa, or elsewhere, for the purpose of buying and selling slaves in foreign parts, and also the decoying and trepanning any of the peaceable inhabitants of this State, white or black, and transporting them abroad for sale; and that your Honours would prescribe such effectual
mode of conviction as that there shall be no possibility for offenders to evade the punishment due to their crimes. Your Honours will permit us to press this matter upon you with an earnestness proportioned to the importance of the cause which we wish to support, and to the strength of our feelings as the friends of humanity, and the consistent and avowed advocates of universal liberty. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever pray, &c.
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
NEW YORK, March 5, 1788.
MY DEAR SIR,I am glad to see that you are so much in favour with the Columbians, especially as you have the quid pro quo in your own power. That is a great matter in these hard times. Stick to them as long as you can. I think the Monarch* a literary puppy, from what little I have seen of him. He certainly does not want understanding, and yet there is a mixture of self-sufficiency, all-sufficiency, and at the same time a degree of insufficiency about him, which is (to me) intolerable. I do not believe that he is fit for a superintendent; that the persons mentioned will be his coadjutors; or that either the demand or the profits will be any way near equal to his expectations. His specimens already published (3 Nos.) are below mediocrity; and even in them he is too much the hero of the tale. His plan of a Federal publication, if sensible, judicious men could be engaged to execute it, and an editor of the same stamp could be procured, I think would do well. Considering circumstances, I would not advise you to engage with him, but I think you may avail yourself of his application with the Columbians; only take care to do it in such a way that you may not, between two stools, fall to the ground. I don't apprehend it will be worth while "to confer with R. upon
*The "Monarch" is Noah Webster. - EDS.
the subject." He is as all-sufficient and sanguine as the Monarch, and as fickle as the wind; all sail, no ballast. I have known him from his infancy.
It seems the New Hampshire Convention has adjourned; but Hastings tells me it is for good. Divine Providence will order matters rightly. I believe Jerry has given you Peabody's true character. Can it be possible that the Pennsylvania minority's protest has but just reached you! This surprises me. It was published long before any hints were thrown out about delays. You ask, "Has any detention been purposely made?" I answer, No. An infamous writer (Anti-federal) in Philadelphia, under the signature of "Centinel," asserted that "the of-c-rs of the p-t o-ce had prostituted their offices and integrity to the nefarious purpose of enslaving their countrymen." He made several attacks before any notice was taken of him, when a piece appeared in a Philadelphia paper, in which "the officers," &c., declared that every charge brought against them by Centinel was false, and should be proved to be such, if he would dare to make them with his real name subscribed, in which case he should know the real name of his antagonist; if he refused to do this, "he must be considered as making wanton attacks upon the characters of men who acted under the sanction of an oath; the public would be at no loss for the motives to his conduct, and the officers, &c., would treat with deserved contempt the ungenerous and unmanly assaults of so unprincipled an assassin." He has never appeared yet except sub Clypeo. The fact is, the office has nothing to do with newspapers; it is a matter merely between the printers and the riders, who have the carriage of them as a perquisite. The two Anti-federal printers in Philadelphia (Oswald & Bailey) and their coadjutor (the brainless Greenleaf) of New York, are the only ones who have published against the office, and neither of them was a printer before the war. In short,
the whole noise appears to me to be an Anti-federal manoeuvre, like the "bribery and corruption" at Boston. Mr. Wingate has called on me, and I must bid you adieu. EBEN. HAZARD.
BELKNAP TO HAZARD.
BOSTON, 9 March, 1788.
MY DEAR SIR, -I inclose you the letter open which came in yours of the 1st inst. sealed. By it you will see what are the prospects with regard to the Columbian Magazine, and be the better able to make up a judgment of what is best for me to do in regard of continuing with them, or accepting N. W.'s proposal. I wish I could talk with you; for this way of asking questions, and receiving answers a fortnight or three weeks afterward, is very tedious. Pray let me have your advice as soon as you can form any judgment upon the matter. In answer to what you desire about the carrying off the 3 negroes, I believe I have already told you all the effect it had on the minds of the people, the petitions which have been presented, &c. I now inclose you the negroes' petition. It is Prince Hall's own composition and handwriting, given me by himself. When you have made what use you think proper of it, please to return it to me.* The Court have, in consequence of this and the other petition, of which I sent you a copy, and one from the Quakers, appointed a committee to prepare a bill — and it is now preparing, and will be ready by Tuesday -to prohibit any vessell being owned, insured, or loaded for the African slave-trade, &c. You shall have a copy when it is passed. It meets with more opposition than I expected, but I hope will be got through. The fellow (Hammond), who was aiding in
* The negroes' petition is not preserved among Dr. Belknap's papers. It bore date 27th February, and is in the "Massachusetts Spy" for 24th April of this year. - EDS.