WHAT is it that constitutes the vital force of the institution of slavery in this country? Slavery being an unnatural and unhealthful condition of society, being a most wasteful and impoverishing mode of cultivating the soil, would speedily run itself out in a community, and become so unprofitable as to fall into disuse, were it not kept alive by some unnatural process.
What has that process been in America? Why has that healing course of nature which cured this awful wound in all the Northern States stopped short on Mason and Dixon's line? In Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky, slave labour long ago impoverished the soil almost beyond recovery, and became entirely unprofitable. In all these States it is well known that the question of emancipation has been urgently presented. It has been discussed in legislatures, and Southern men have poured forth on the institution of slavery such anathemas as only Southern men can pour forth. All that has ever been said of it at the North has been said in fourfold thunders in these Southern discussions. The State of Kentucky once came within one vote, in her legislature, of taking measures for gradual emancipation. The State of Virginia has come almost equally near; and Maryland has long been waiting at the door. There was a time when no one doubted that all these States would soon be free States; and what is now the reason that they are not? Why are these discussions now silenced, and why does this noble determination now retrograde? The answer is in a word. It is the extension of slave territory, the opening of a great Southern slave-market, and the organisation of a great internal slave-trade, that has arrested the progress of emancipation.
While these States were beginning to look upon the slave as one who might
possibly yet become a man, while they meditated giving to him and his wife
and children the inestimable blessings of liberty, this great Southern slave-mart
was opened. It began by the addition of Missouri as slave territory, and the
votes of two Northern men were those which decided this great question.
Then, by the assent and concurrence of Northern men, came in all the immense acquisition of slave territory which now opens so boundless a market to tempt the avarice and cupidity of the Northern slave-raising States.
This acquisition of territory has deferred perhaps for indefinite ages the emancipation of a race. It has condemned to sorrow and heart-breaking separation, to groans and wailings, hundreds of thousands of slave families; it has built, through all the Southern States, slave warehouses, with all their ghastly furnishings of gags, and thumb-screws, and cowhides; it has organised unnumbered slave-coffles, clanking their chains and filing in mournful march through this land of liberty.
This accession of slave territory hardened the heart of the master. It changed what was before, in comparison, a kindly relation, into the most horrible and inhuman of trades.
The planter whose slaves had grown up around him, and whom he had learned to look upon almost as men and women, saw on every sable forehead now nothing but its market value. This man was a thousand dollars, and this eight hundred. The black baby in its mother's arms was a hundred-dollar bill, and nothing more. All those nobler traits of mind and heart which should have made the slave a brother, became only so many stamps on his merchandise. Is the slave intelligent?—Good! that raises his price two hundred dollars. Is he conscientious and faithful? Good! stamp it down in his certificate; it's worth two hundred dollars more. Is he religious? Does that Holy Spirit of God, whose name we mention with reverence and fear, make that despised form His temple?—Let that also be put down in the estimate of his market value, and the gift of the Holy Ghost shall be sold for money. Is he a minister of God?—Nevertheless, he has his price in the market. From the church and from the communion-table the Christian brother and sister are taken to make up the slave-coffle. And woman, with her tenderness, her gentleness, her beauty—woman, to whom mixed blood of the black and the white have given graces perilous for a slave—what is her accursed lot in this dreadful commerce? The next few chapters will disclose facts on this subject which ought to wring the heart of every Christian mother, if, indeed, she be worthy of that holiest name.
But we will not deal in assertions merely. We have stated the thing to be proved; let us show the facts which prove it.
The existence of this fearful traffic is known to many, the particulars and dreadful extent of it realised but by few.
Let us enter a little more particularly on them. The slave-
exporting States are Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Missouri. These are slave-raising States, and the others are slave-consuming States. We have shown, in the preceding chapters, the kind of advertisements which are usual in those States; but as we wish to produce on the minds of our readers something of the impression which has been produced on our own mind by their multiplicity and abundance, we shall add a few more here. For the State of VIRGINIA, see all the following:
Kanawha Republican, Oct. 20, 1852, Charleston, Va. At the head—Liberty, with a banner, “Drapeau sans Tache.”
CASH FOR NEGROES.
The subscriber wishes to purchase a few young NEGROES, from 12 to 25 years of age, for which the highest market price will be paid in cash. A few lines addressed to him through the Post Office, Kanawha C. H., or a personal application, will be promptly attended to.
Oct. 20, '53.—3t. JAS. L. FICKLIN.
Alexandria Gazette, Oct. 28:
CASH FOR NEGROES.
I wish to purchase immediately, for the South, any number of NEGROES from 10 to 30 years of age, for which I will pay the very highest cash price. All communications promptly attended to.
West End, Alexandria, Va., Oct. 26.—tf. JOSEPH BRUIN.
Lynchburg Virginian, Nov. 18:
The subscriber, having located in Lynchburg, is giving the highest cash prices for negroes, between the ages of 10 and 30 years. Those having negroes for sale may find it to their interest to call on him at the Washington Hotel, Lynchburg, or address him by letter.
All communications will receive prompt attention.
J. B. MC LENDON.
Rockingham, Register, Nov. 13:
CASH FOR NEGROES.
I wish to purchase a number of NEGROES of both sexes and all ages, for the Southern market, for which I will pay the highest cash prices. Letters addressed to me at Winchester, Virginia, will be promptly attended to.
H. J. MC DANIEL, Agent for Wm. Crow.
Nov. 24, 1846.—tf.
Richmond Whig, Nov. 16:
PULLIAM AND DAVIS, AUCTIONEERS FOR THE SALE OF NEGROES.
D. M. PULLIAM. HECTOR DAVIS.
The subscribers continue to sell Negroes, at their office, on Wall-street. From their experience in the business they can safely insure the highest prices for all negroes intrusted to their care. They will make sales of negroes in estates, and would say to Commissioners, Executors, and Administrators, that they will make their sales on favourable terms. They are prepared to board and lodge negroes comfortably at 25 cents. per day.
NOTICE—CASH FOR SLAVES.
Those who wish to sell slaves in Buckingham and the adjacent counties in Virginia, by application to ANDERSON D. ABRAHAM, Sr., or his son, ANDERSON D. ABRAHAM, Jr., they will find sale, at the highest cash prices, for one hundred and fifty to two hundred slaves. One or the other of the above parties will be found, for the next eight months, at their residence in the aforesaid county and State. Address ANDERSON D. ABRAHAM, Sr., Maysville Post Office, White Oak Grove, Buckingham County, Va.
Winchester Republican, June 29, 1852:
The subscriber, having located himself in Winchester, Va., wishes to purchase a large number of SLAVES of both sexes, for which he will give the highest price in cash. Persons wishing to dispose of Slaves will find it to their advantage to give him a call before selling.
All communications addressed to him at the Taylor Hotel, Winchester, Va., will meet with prompt attention.
ELIJAH MC DOWEL, Agent for B. M. and Wm. L. Campbell, Of Baltimore.
Dec. 27, 1851.—1y.
Port Tobacco Times, October, 1852:
The subscriber is permanently located at MIDDLEVILLE, Charles County (immediately on the road from Port Tobacco to Allen's Fresh), where he will be pleased to buy any SLAVES that are for sale. The extreme value will be given at all times, and liberal commissions paid for information leading to a purchase. Apply personally, or by letter addressed to Allen's Fresh, Charles County.
JOHN G. CAMPBELL.
Middleville, April 14, 1852.
Cambridge (Md.) Democrat, October 27., 1852:
I wish to inform the slaveholders of Dorchester and the adjacent counties that I am again in the market. Persons having negroes that are slaves for life to dispose of will find it to their interest to see me before they sell, as I am determined to pay the highest price in cash that the Southern market will justify. I can be found at A. HALL'S Hotel, in Easton, where I will remain until the first day of July next. Communications addressed to me at Easton, or information given to Wm. Bell, in Cambridge, will meet with prompt attention.
I will be at John Bradshaw's Hotel, in Cambridge, every Monday.
Oct. 6, 1852.—3m. WM. HARKER.
The Westminster Carroltonian, October 22, 1852:
TWENTY-FIVE NEGROES WANTED.
The undersigned wishes to purchase 25 LIKELY YOUNG NEGROES, for which the highest cash prices will be paid. All communications addressed to me in Baltimore will be punctually attended to.
Jan. 2.—tf. LEWIS WINTERS.
For TENNESSEE the following:—
Nashville True Whig, October 20, '52:
21 likely Negroes, of different ages.
Oct. 6. A. A. MC LEAN, Gen. Agent.
I want to purchase, immediately, a Negro man, Carpenter, and will give a good price.
Oct. 6. A. A. MC LEAN, Gen. Agent.
Nashville Gazette, October 22:
SEVERAL likely girls from 10 to 18 years old, a woman 24, a very valuable woman 25 years old, with three very likely children.
Oct. 16, 1852. WILLIAMS & GLOVER, A. B. U.
I want to purchase Twenty-five LIKELY NEGROES, between the ages of 18 and 25 years, male and female, for which I will pay the highest price in CASH.
Oct. 20. A. A. MC LEAN, Cherry-street.
The Memphis Daily Eagle and Enquirer:
FIVE HUNDRED NEGROES WANTED.
We will pay the highest cash price for all good negroes offered. We invite all those having negroes for sale to call on us at our mart, opposite the lower steam-boat landing. We will also have a large lot of Virginia negroes for sale in the fall. We have as safe a jail as any in the country, where we can keep negroes safe for those that wish them kept.
je 13—d & w. BOLTON, DICKINS & Co.
LAND AND NEGROES FOR SALE.
A good bargain will be given in about 400 acres of Land; 200 acres are in a fine state of cultivation, fronting the railroad about ten miles from Memphis. Together with 18 or 20 likely negroes, consisting of men, women, boys, and girls. Good time will be given on a portion of the purchase money.
Oct. 18.—1m. J. M. PROVINE.
Clarksville Chronicle, December 3, 1852:
We wish to hire 25 good steam-boat hands for the New Orleans and Louisville trade. We will pay very full prices for the season, commencing about the 15th November.
MC CLURE & CROZIER, Agents. S. B. Bellpoor.
Sept. 10, 1852.—1m.
The Daily St. Louis Times, October 14, 1852:
On Chesnut, between Sixth and Seventh streets, near the city jail, will pay the highest price in cash for all good negroes offered. There are also other buyers to be found in the office very anxious to purchase, who will pay the highest prices given in cash.
Negroes boarded at the lowest rates.
BLAKELY and McAFEE having dissolved copartnership by mutual consent, the subscriber will at all times pay the highest cash prices for negroes of every description. Will also attend to the sale of negroes on commission, having a jail and yard fitted up expressly for boarding them.
Negroes for sale at all times.
3 A. B. MC AFEE, 93 Olive-street.
ONE HUNDRED NEGROES WANTED.
Having just returned from Kentucky, I wish to purchase, as soon as possible, one hundred likely negroes, consisting of men, women, boys and girls, for which I will pay at all times from fifty to one hundred dollars on the head more money than any other trading man in the city of St. Louis, or the State of Missouri. I can at all times be found at Barnum's City Hotel, St. Louis, Mo.
je 12d&wly. JOHN MATTINGLY.
From another St. Louis paper:—
I will pay at all times the highest price in cash for all good negroes offered. I am buying for the Memphis and Louisiana markets, and can afford to pay, and will pay, as high as any trading man in this State. All those having negroes to sell will do well to give me a call at No. 210, corner of Sixth and Wash streets, St. Louis, Mo.
THOS. DICKINS, of the firm of Bolton, Dickins, & Co.
ONE HUNDRED NEGROES WANTED.
Having just returned from Kentucky, I wish to purchase one hundred likely negroes, consisting of men and women, boys and girls, for which I will pay in cash from fifty to one hundred dollars more than any other trading man in the city of St. Louis or the State of Missouri. I can at all times be found at Barnum's City Hotel, St. Louis, Mo.
je 14d&wly. JOHN MATTINGLY.
B. M. LYNCH, No. 104, Locust St., St. Louis, Missouri,
Is prepared to pay the highest prices in cash for good and likely negroes, or will furnish boarding for others, in comfortable quarters and under secure fastenings. He will also attend to the sale and purchase of negroes on commission.
* Negroes for sale at all times.
We ask you, Christian reader, we beg you to think, what sort of scenes are going on in Virginia under these advertisements? You see that they are carefully worded so as to take only the young people; and they are only a specimen of the standing season advertisements, which are among the most common things in the Virginia papers. A succeeding chapter will open to the reader the interior of these slave-prisons, and show him something of the daily incidents of this kind of trade. Now, let us look at the corresponding advertisements in the Southern States. The coffles made up in Virginia and other States are thus announced in the Southern market.
From the Natchez (Mississippi) Free Trader, November 20:—
NEGROES FOR SALE.
The undersigned have just arrived, direct from Richmond, Va., with a large and likely lot of Negroes, consisting of Field Hands, House Servants, Seamstresses, Cooks, Washers and Ironers, a first-rate brick mason, and other mechanics, which they now offer for sale at the Forks of the Road, near Natchez (Miss.), on the most accommodating terms.
They will continue to receive fresh supplies from Richmond, Va., during the season, and will be able to furnish to any order any description of negroes sold in Richmond.
Persons wishing to purchase would do well to give us a call before purchasing elsewhere.
Nov. 20—6m. MATTHEWS, BRANTON, & Co.
TO THE PUBLIC. NEGROES BOUGHT AND SOLD.
ROBERT S. ADAMS & MOSES J. WICKS have this day associated themselves under the name and style of ADAMS & WICKS, for the purpose of buying and selling Negroes, in the city of Aberdeen, and elsewhere. They have an agent who has been purchasing Negroes for them in the Old States for the last two months. One of the firm, Robert S. Adams, leaves this day for North Carolina and Virginia, and will buy a large number of negroes for this market. They will keep at their depot in Aberdeen, during the coming fall and winter, a large lot of choice Negroes, which they will sell low for cash, or for bills on Mobile.
ROBERT S. ADAMS, MOSES J. WICKS.
Aberdeen, Miss., May 7, 1852.
SLAVES! SLAVES! SLAVES!
FRESH ARRIVALS WEEKLY.—Having established ourselves at the Forks of the Road, near Natchez, for a term of years, we have now on hand, and intend to keep throughout the entire year, a large and well selected stock of Negroes, consisting of field-hands, house-servants, mechanics, cooks, seamstresses, washers, ironers, &c., which we can sell, and will sell, as low or lower than any other house here or in New Orleans.
Persons wishing to purchase would do well to call on us before making purchases elsewhere, as our regular arrivals will keep us supplied with a good and general assortment. Our terms are liberal. Give us a call.
GRIFFIN & PULLUM.
Natchez, Oct. 16, 1852.—6m
NEGROES FOR SALE.
I have just returned to my stand, at the Forks of the Road, with fifty likely young NEGROES for sale.
Sept. 22. R. H. ELAM.
The undersigned would respectfully state to the public that he has leased the stand in the Forks of the Road, near Natchez, for a term of years, and that he intends to keep a large lot of NEGROES on hand during the year. He will sell as low or lower than any other trader at this place or in New Orleans.
He has just arrived from Virginia, with a very likely lot of field men and women and house-servants, three cooks, a carpenter, and a fine buggy horse, and a saddle-horse and carryall. Call and see.
THOS. G. JAMES.
Daily Orleanian, October 19, 1852:—
W. F. TANNEHILL. No. 159, GRAIER STREET. SLAVES! SLAVES! SLAVES!
Constantly on hand, bought and sold on commission, at most reasonable prices.—Field hands, cooks, washers and ironers, and general house-servants. City references given, if required.
DEPOT D'ESCLAVES. DE LA NOUVELLE ORLEANS. No. 68, RUE BARONNE.
WM. F. TANNEHILL & Co. ont constamment en mains un assortiment complet d'ESCLAVES bien choisis A VENDRE. Aussi, vente et achat d'esclaves par commission.
Nous avons actuellement en mains un grand nombre de NEGRES à louer aux mois, parmi lesquels se trouvent des jeunes gargons, domestiques de maison, cuisinières, blanchisseuses et repasseuses, nourices, &c.
New Orleans Daily Crescent, October 21, 1852:—
JAMES WHITE, No. 73, Baronne-street, New Orleans, will give strict attention to receiving, boarding, and selling SLAVES consigned to him. He will also buy and sell on commission. References: Messrs. Robson & Allen, McRea, Coffman & Co., Pregram, Bryan & Co.
Fifteen or twenty good Negro Men wanted to go on a Plantation. The best of wages will be given until the 1st of January, 1853.
THOMAS G. MACKEY & Co., 5, Canal-street, corner of Magazine, up stairs.
From another number of the Mississippi Free Trader is taken the following:—
The undersigned would respectfully state to the public that he has a lot of about forty-five now on hand, having this day received a lot of twenty-five direct from Virginia, two or three good cooks, a carriage driver, a good house boy, a fiddler, a fine seamstress, and a likely lot of field men and women; all of whom he will sell at a small profit. He wishes to close out and go on to Virginia after a lot for the fall trade. Call and see.
THOMAS G. JAMES.
The slave-raising business of the Northern States has been variously alluded to and recognised, both in the business statistics of the States, and occasionally in the speeches of patriotic men, who have justly mourned over it as a degradation to their country. In 1841 the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society addressed to the executive committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society some inquiries on the internal American slave-trade.
A laboured investigation was made at the time, the results of which were published in London; and from that volume are made the following extracts:—
The Virginia Times (a weekly newspaper, published at Wheeling, Virginia) estimates, in 1836, the number of slaves exported for sale from that State alone, during “the twelve months preceding,” at forty thousand, the aggregate value of whom is computed at twenty-four millions of dollars.
Allowing for Virginia one-half of the whole exportation during the period in question, and we have the appalling sum total of eighty thousand slaves exported in a single year from the breeding States. We cannot decide with certainty what proportion of the above number was furnished by each of the breeding States, but Maryland ranks next to Virginia in point of numbers, North Carolina follows Maryland, Kentucky North Carolina, then Tennessee and Delaware.
The Natchez (Mississippi) Courier says, that “the States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas imported two hundred and fifty thousand slaves from the more Northern States in the year 1836.”
This seems absolutely incredible, but it probably includes all the slaves introduced by the immigration of their masters. The following, from the Virginia Times, confirms this supposition. In the same paragraph, which is referred to under the second query, it is said—
“We have heard intelligent men estimate the number of slaves exported from Virginia within the last twelve months at a hundred and twenty thousand, each slave averaging at least six hundred dollars, making an aggregate of seventy-two million dollars. Of the number of slaves exported not more than one-third have been sold, the others having been carried by their masters, who have removed.
Assuming one-third to be the proportion of the sold, there are more than
eighty thousand imported for sale into the four States of Louisiana, Mississippi,
Alabama, and Arkansas. Supposing one-half of eighty thousand to be sold into
the other buying States—South Carolina, Georgia, and the territory of
Florida—and we are
brought to the conclusion that more than a hundred and twenty thousand slaves were, for some years previous to the great pecuniary pressure in 1837, exported from the breeding to the consuming States.
The Baltimore American gives the following from a Mississippi paper of 1837:—
“The report made by the Committee of the citizens of Mobile, appointed at their meeting held on the 1st instant, on the subject of the existing pecuniary pressure, states, that so large has been the return of slave labour, that purchases by Alabama of that species of property from other States, since 1833, have amounted to about ten million dollars annually.”
“Dealing in slaves,” says the Baltimore (Maryland) Register, of 1829, “has become a large business; establishments are made in several places in Maryland and Virginia, at which they are sold like cattle. These places of deposit are strongly built, and well supplied with iron thumbscrews and gags, and ornamented with cowskins and other whips, oftentimes bloody.”
Professor Dew, now President of the University of William and Mary, in Virginia, in his review of the debate in the Virginia Legislature, in 1831-32, says (p. 120):—
“A full equivalent being left in the place of the slave (the purchase-money), this emigration becomes an advantage to the State, and does not check the black population as much as at first view we might imagine, because it furnishes every inducement to the master to attend to the negroes, to encourage, breeding, and to cause the greatest number possible to be raised.” Again, “Virginia is, in fact, a negro-raising State for the other States.”
Mr. Goode, of Virginia, in his speech before the Virginia Legislature, in January, 1832, said—
“The superior usefulness of the slaves in the South will constitute an effectual demand, which will remove them from our limits. We shall send them from our State, because it will be our interest to do so; but gentlemen are alarmed lest the markets of other States be closed against the introduction of our slaves. Sir, the demand for slave labour must increase,” &c.
In the debates of the Virginia Convention, in 1829, Judge Upsher said—
“The value of slaves, as an article of property, depends much on the state of the market abroad. In this view it is the value of the land abroad; and not of land here, which furnishes the ratio. Nothing is more fluctuating than the value of slaves. A late law of Louisiana reduced their value twenty-five per cent, in two hours after its passage was known. If it should be our lot, as I trust it will be, to acquire the country of Texas, their price will rise again.”
Hon. Philip Doddridge, of Virginia, in his speech in the Virginia Convention, in 1829 (Debates, p. 89), said—
“The acquisition of Texas will greatly enhance the value of the property in question (Virginia slaves).”
Rev. Dr. Graham, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, at a colonisation meeting held at that place in the fall of 1837, said—
“There were nearly seven thousand slaves offered in New Orleans market last winter. From Virginia alone six thousand were annually sent to the South, and from Virginia and North Carolina there had gone to the South, in the last twenty years, THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND SLAVES.”
Hon. Henry Clay, of Kentucky, in his speech before the Colonisation Society, in 1829, says—
“It is believed that nowhere in the farming portion of the United States would slave labour be generally employed if the proprietor were not tempted to raise slaves by the high price of the Southern market, which keeps it up in his own.”
The New York Journal of Commerce, of October 12th, 1835, contains a letter from a Virginian, whom the editor calls “a very good and sensible man;” asserting that twenty thousand slaves had been driven to the South from Virginia that year, but little more than three-fourths of which had then elapsed.
Mr. Gholson, of Virginia, in his speech in the legislature of that State, January 18, 1831 (see Richmond Whig), says—
“It has always (perhaps erroneously) been considered, by steady and old-fashioned people, that the owner of land had a reasonable right to its annual profits; the owner of orchards to their annual fruits; the owner of brood mares to their product, and the owner of female slaves to their increase. We have not the fine-spun intelligence nor legal acumen to discover the technical distinctions drawn by gentlemen (that is, the distinction between female slaves and brood mares). The legal maxim of partus sequitur ventrem is coeval with the existence of the right of property itself, and is founded in wisdom and justice. It is on the justice and inviolability of this maxim that the master foregoes the service of the female slave, has her nursed and attended during the period of her gestation, and raises the helpless infant offspring. The value of the property justifies the expense, and I do not hesitate to say that in its increase consists much of our wealth.”
Can any comment on the state of public sentiment produced by slavery equal the simple reading of this extract, if we remember that it was spoken in the Virginian legislature? One would think the cold cheek of Washington would redden in its grave for shame, that his native State had sunk so low. That there were Virginian hearts to feel this disgrace is evident from the following reply of Mr. Faulkner to Mr. Gholson, in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1832. See Richmond Whig:—
“But he (Mr. Gholson) has laboured to show that the abolition of slavery would be impolitic, because your slaves constitute the entire wealth of the State, all the productive capacity Virginia possesses; and, sir, as things are, I believe he is correct. He says that the slaves constitute the entire available wealth of Eastern Virginia. Is it true that for two hundred years the only increase in the wealth and resources of Virginia has been a remnant of the natural increase of this miserable race? Can it be that on this increase she places her sole dependence? Until I heard these declarations, I had not fully conceived the horrible extent of this evil. These gentlemen state the fact, which the history and present aspect of the commonwealth but too well sustain. What, sir! have you lived for two hundred years without personal effort or productive industry, in extravagance and indolence, sustained alone by the return from the sales of the increase of slaves, and retaining merely such a number as your now impoverished lands can sustain as STOCK?”
Mr. Thomas Jefferson Randolph, in the Virginian legislature, used the following language (“Liberty Bell,” p. 20):
“I agree with gentlemen in the necessity of arming the State for
internal defence. I will unite with them in any effort to restore confidence
to the public
mind, and to conduce to the sense of the safety of our wives and our children. Yet, Sir, I must ask upon whom is to fall the burden of this defence? Not upon the lordly masters of their hundred slaves, who will never turn out except to retire with their families when danger threatens. No, sir; it is to fall upon the less wealthy class of our citizens, chiefly upon the non-slaveholder. I have known patrols turned out where there was not a slaveholder among them; and this is the practice of the country. I have slept in times of alarm quiet in bed, without having a thought of care, while these individuals, owning none of this property themselves, were patrolling under a compulsory process, for a pittance of seventy-five cents per twelve hours, the very curtilage of my house, and guarding that property which was alike dangerous to them and myself. After all, this is but an expedient. As this population becomes more numerous, it becomes less productive. Your guard must be increased, until finally its profits will not pay for the expense of its subjection. Slavery has the effect of lessening the free population of a country.
“The gentleman has spoken of the increase of the female slaves being a part of the profit. It is admitted; but no great evil can be averted, no good attained, without some inconvenience. It may be questioned how far it is desirable to foster and encourage this branch of profit. It is a practice, and an increasing practice, in parts of Virginia, to rear slaves for market. How can an honourable mind, a patriot, and a lover of his country, bear to see this Ancient Dominion, rendered illustrious by the noble devotion and patriotism of her sons in the cause of liberty, converted into one grand menagerie, where men are to be reared for the market, like oxen for the shambles? Is it better, is it not worse, than the slave-trade—that trade which enlisted the labour of the good and wise of every creed, and every clime, to abolish it? The trader receives the slave, a stranger in language, aspect, and manners, from the merchant who has brought him from the interior. The ties of father, mother, husband, and child, have all been rent in twain; before he receives him, his soul has become callous. But here, sir, individuals whom the master has known from infancy, whom he has seen sporting in the innocent gambols of childhood who have been accustomed to look to him for protection, he tears from the mother arms and sells into a strange country among strange people, subject to cruel taskmasters.
“He has attempted to justify slavery here because it exists in Africa, and has stated that it exists all over the world. Upon the same principle, he could justify Mahometanism, with its plurality of wives, petty wars for plunder, robbery, and murder, or any other of the abominations and enormities of savage tribes. Does slavery exist in any part of civilised Europe?—No, sir, in no part of it.”
The calculations in the volume from which we have been quoting are made in the year 1841. Since that time the area of the Southern slave-market has been doubled, and the trade has undergone a proportional increase. Southern papers are full of its advertisements. It is, in fact, the great trade of the country. From the single port of Baltimore, in the last two years, a thousand and thirty-three slaves have been shipped to the Southern market, as is apparent from the following report of the custom-house officer:—
If we look back to the advertisements we shall see that the traders take only the younger ones, between the ages of ten and thirty. But this is only one port, and only one mode of exporting; for multitudes of them are sent in coffles over land; and yet Mr. J. Thornton Randolph represents the negroes of Virginia as living in pastoral security, smoking their pipes under their own vines and fig-trees, the venerable patriarch of the flock declaring that “he nebber hab hear such a thing as a nigger sold to Georgia all his life, unless dat nigger did something berry bad.”
An affecting picture of the consequences of this traffic upon both master and slave is drawn by the committee of the volume from which we have quoted.
The writer cannot conclude this chapter better than by the language which they have used:—
This system bears with extreme severity upon the slave. It subjects him to a perpetual fear of being sold to the “soul-driver,” which to the slave is the realisation of all conceivable woes and horrors, more dreaded than death. An awful apprehension of this fate haunts the poor sufferer by day and night, from his cradle to his grave. SUSPENSE hangs like a thunder-cloud over his head. He knows that there is not a passing hour, whether he wakes or sleeps, which may not be THE LAST that he shall spend with his wife and children. Every day or week some acquaintance is snatched from his side, and thus the consciousness of his own danger is kept continually awake. “Surely my turn will come next,” is his harrowing conviction; for he knows that he was reared for this, as the ox for the yoke, or the sheep for the slaughter. In this aspect, the slave's condition is truly indescribable. Suspense, even when it relates to an event of no great moment, and “endureth but for a night,” is hard to bear. But when it broods over all, absolutely all that is dear, chilling the present with its deep shade, and casting its awful gloom over the future, it must break the heart! Such is the suspense under which every slave in the breeding State lives. It poisons all his little lot of bliss. If a father, he cannot go forth to his toil without bidding a mental farewell to his wife and children. He cannot return, weary and worn, from the field, with any certainty that he shall not find his home robbed and desolate. Nor can he seek his bed of straw and rags without the frightful misgiving that his wife may be torn from his arms before morning. Should a white stranger approach his master's mansion, he fears that the soul-driver has come, and awaits in terror the overseer's mandate, “You are sold; follow that man.” There is no being on earth whom the slaves of the breeding States regard with so much horror as the trader. He is to them what the prowling kidnapper is to their less wretched brethren in the wilds of Africa. The master knows this, and that there is no punishment so effectual to secure labour, or deter from misconduct, as the threat of being delivered to the soul-driver.*
Another consequence of this system is the prevalence of licentiousness. This is indeed one of the foul features of slavery everywhere; but it is especially prevalent and indiscriminate where slave-breeding is conducted as a business. It grows directly out of the system, and is inseparable from it. * * * The pecuniary inducement to general pollution must be very strong, since the larger the slave increase the greater the master's gains, and especially since the mixed blood demands a considerable higher price than the pure black.
The remainder of the extract contains specifications too dreadful to be quoted. We can only refer the reader to the volume, p. 13.
The poets of America, true to the holy soul of their divine art, have shed over some of the horrid realities of this trade the pathetic light of poetry. Longfellow and Whittier have told us, in verses beautiful as strung pearls, yet sorrowful as a mother's tears, some of the incidents of this unnatural and ghastly traffic. For the sake of a common humanity, let us hope that the first extract describes no common event.
THE QUADROON GIRL.
The Slaver in the broad lagoon
Her eyes were large and full of light,
OF A VIRGINIA SLAVE MOTHER TO HER DAUGHTERS, SOLD INTO SOUTHERN BONDAGE.
GONE, gone—sold and gone,
Never, when the torturing lash
JOHN G. WHITTIER.
The following extract from a letter of Dr. Bailey, in the Era, 1847, presents a view of this subject more creditable to some Virginia families. May the number that refuse to part with slaves, except by emancipation, increase!
The sale of slaves to the South is carried to a great extent. The slaveholders do not, as far as I can learn, raise them for that special purpose. But, here is a man with a score of slaves, located on an exhausted plantation. It must furnish support for all; but, while they increase, its capacity of supply decreases. The result is, he must emancipate or sell. But he has fallen into debt, and he sells to relieve himself from debt, and also from an excess of mouths. Or, he requires money to educate his children; or, his negroes are sold under execution. From these and other causes, large numbers of slaves are continually disappearing from the State, so that the next census will undoubtedly show a marked diminution of the slave population.
The season for this trade is generally from November to April; and some estimate that the average number of slaves passing the southern railroad weekly, during that period of six months, is at least 200. A slave-trader told me that he had known 100 pass in a single night. But this is only one route. Large numbers were sent off westwardly, and also by sea, coastwise. The Davises, in Petersburg, are the great slave-dealers. They are Jews, who came to that place many years ago as poor peddlers; and, I am informed, are members of a family which has its representatives in Philadelphia, New York, &c. These men are always in the market, giving the highest price for slaves. During the summer and fall they buy them up at low prices, trim, shave, wash them, fatten them so that they may look sleek, and sell them to great profit. It might not be unprofitable to inquire how much Northern capital, and what firms in some of the Northern cities, are connected with this detestable business.
There are many planters here who cannot be persuaded to sell their slaves. They have far more than they can find work for, and could at any time obtain a high price for them. The temptation is strong, for they want more money and fewer dependants. But they resist it, and nothing can induce them to part with a single slave, though they know that they would be greatly the gainers in a pecuniary sense were they to sell one-half of them. Such men are too good to be slave-holders. Would that they might see it their duty to go one step further, and become emancipators! The majority of this class of planters are religious men, and this is the class to which generally are to be referred the various cases of emancipation by will, of which from time to time we hear accounts.