The Journal of Negro History, Volume 7, 1922
Author: Various
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Chancellor Johnson stated that the matter was purely a constitutional question, and he quoted from the Constitution to show that the House had the right to decide all such questions, for itself.

On motion the resolution of Mr. Brayton was laid on the table.

Hirsch then called for a ruling from the chair, and the chair decided that it would require two-thirds of the members present. The Saint here became very much agitated, and requested that he be allowed to speak in his own behalf, as no one else saw fit to take up his cause. The request was granted, and he then spoke as follows:

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives: I will in the outset simply draw your attention to the fact that my accuser has never put his foot on the soil of South Carolina. If the House will not defend me the courts will. No witnesses have been called here, and when I asked you for your protection I am taunted with the fact that I have offered no defence. If I had been accused in a trial justice's court I would have had the proofs, and would have the right to meet my accuser face to face. But here, when my reputation and the reputation of my innocent children are at stake, I am proved beyond doubt, and by respectable witnesses, to be a wilful falsifier and perverter of the truth. Take notice of this telegram from an honorable house, Messrs. Armstrong, Scribner & Co.: "We have heard threats that the books chosen shall not succeed, and that you shall be ruined." This is not the first time that Ivison, Blakeman & Co., have made a similar fight to this in the North. They have done so hundreds of times. I ask the patience of the House, which has my future weal or woe in their hands, to hear me yet further. Strike if you will but for Heaven's sake hear me. Another curious phase of this matter is that the house of Ivison, Blakeman & Co., when it suits their convenience, do not hesitate to publish confidential communications. And I would say here that a member of this House has done the same thing, viz, has divulged to the press what took place in the committee room, for his own ends.

Mr. Orr here rose and said that if Robertson referred to him he told a malicious falsehood, and that he would get his pay for it.

Robertson said he had no doubt he would get paid for it; that he had not mentioned Orr's name, but if he saw fit to appropriate the remark he could not help it.

The speaker here interrupted, and put an end to the controversy.

Robertson continued: That he had married into one of the best families of the State, and that his blood was mingled with theirs, &c.

Holland, a coal-black representative, for what purpose or actuated by what impulse must ever remain a mystery, here interrupted, and asked if Robertson referred to him. Mr. Robertson said no, he did not refer to him. This produced a roar of laughter all over the House which the speaker had great difficulty in suppressing.

Robertson continued: I have written some foolish things, it is true, but I am done with Cathcart and Ivison, Blakeman & Co. Remember the words of the Holy Writ: "Judge not that ye be not judged." I will now refer to the letter which the gentleman from Greenville rolled as a sweet morsel under his tongue yesterday. That letter was confidential, and you must remember that all this trouble is made up out of confidential letters. Which of you would be willing to have his confidential letters published? Concerning Guerad, I certainly did offer to help him get a situation, as he was worthy and needy. I was asked by him and endeavored to get it for him; and who would not do the same? Mr. Robertson then referred to his letter in The News and Courier, which, he said, the publishers of the paper had done him the justice to publish, and which contained a full account of the whole matter in plain terms, without any attempt to conceal or pervert the facts.

Mr. Robertson's time here expired, but on motion of Whipper he was allowed fifteen minutes longer. He continued: Recollect that two constructions can be placed upon this matter. One will ruin me and the other will not. Choose between them.

Hamilton interrupted. What particular portion of the letters do you deny?

Robertson. What I object to in this investigation is that copies of letters are given here purporting to be mine, when I cannot tell whether they are mine or not. Gentlemen, what can I say more? I built the first schoolhouse that was ever built in my district, and supported the first teacher we had to teach the colored children in it. And now, gentlemen for this I am to be expelled; expelled because I have labored for the good of the children of the State; because in my anxiety I wrote letters which the secretary of the commission ought to have written himself. Gentlemen I am done. "Let him that is without sin among you cast the first stone."

Hamilton. Keep down then, it is where you belong, and if you had your deserts you ought to be down and out of the House. Hamilton then went on, saying that he proposed to divest himself of all personal feelings. He proposed to speak as he thought the people would have him speak—justly. The first ground that he took against Robertson was that he believed him guilty and thought that every man in South Carolina believed the same and I will say as he says, "Out of thy mouth thou shalt be convicted." No private confidential letters could benefit the children of the State; they benefit only the man who writes them. These letters undoubtedly were written to benefit himself, not the children. I express the sentiment of my people when I say that he is guilty of murder, not of manslaughter. This man and such as he have done an immense harm, and it is time we were getting rid of them. We can't hold that class of men and be successful in politics. It is with pain that I utter what I do. If this were some other occasion, and the gentleman was from some other county, I ... of ... Cathcart. Hayne then went into a review of the testimony, concluding with the remark that as to the expulsion of Mr. Robertson bringing disgrace upon his children he did not deny; it was mournful that the sins of the fathers should be visited upon their children.

Black ... Davis then got up, and, as usual, talked a great deal and said very little. The general tenor of the harangue, however, was that if they expelled Robertson they would establish a precedent that would work harm for the party. They would be opening a door that they might not be able to shut when they wanted to. That Republican material was scarce, and if they punished this man it would discourage other white carpet-baggers from coming down and help lead the party in this State.

Freeman of Charleston, then followed in a strong speech against Robertson. He said that the question was one of peculiar significance. It was whether the colored men of the State were able to lead themselves, and capable of upholding their self-respect. He had remained silent until he had heard the defence entirely exhausted, and he was forced to say that the accused had in his defence done nothing but make an admission that the charges were true. He then read a letter of Robertson's dated June 2d. This, he said, was a confidential letter, and no public servant had the right to write such confidential letters to put money in their own pockets. If he (Robertson) knew that it was the character of these Northern firms to defraud the people of the different States, as he says he did, then why did he go to them? If he knew that they were swindlers, why did he go to them to strike a bargain for the State. Robertson had cast an insult upon the colored men that would not be tolerated by any other race upon the face of the globe. He had flung out to the world the insinuation—nay, the assertion—that the colored members of the Legislature were for sale on every question. He hoped that the colored members would assert their self-respect and hurl back the charge with scorn, and show to the world that they had some sense of honor, and will not be duped by unprincipled carpet-baggers any longer.

Whipper then followed in a harangue in support of Robertson, taking the old ground that the letters were not certified to, and incompetent as testimony, &c., and wound up with a customary slash at The News and Courier.

Mr. Brayton, of Aiken, followed Whipper in a strong technical argument in support of Robertson, in which he claimed that the form of trial was illegal, and the testimony was insufficient and ex parte; not touching upon the guilt or innocence of Robertson at all.

The accusers and defenders had exhausted their rhetoric and the patience of their audience and themselves, so a vote was taken on the question of expulsion, and resulted as follows—56 yeas and 25 nays. A few moments later and the hall was silent and in darkness.

Nesbit and Pinckney, however, it seems, hadn't had enough of the fight inside, but went to abusing each other about the course they had pursued. Pinckney voted for expulsion and Nesbit against it, and after some words they went to bruising each other in a way that must have shocked the effigy of the father of their country, around whose bronze form they shinned so mildly. The entertainment broke up, however, before the gladiators had entirely demolished each other.

The discussion of the Robertson matter in the House, if it has done nothing else, has very clearly demonstrated that the majority of the colored people of the State are tired of their carpet-bagger leaders, and do not propose to be led by them any longer.


[1] These articles were arranged by Monroe N. Work.


Fifty Years in the Gospel Ministry. By THEOPHILUS GOULD STEWARD. The African Methodist Episcopal Book Concern, 631 Pine Street, Philadelphia, 1922. Pp. 520.

This is an autobiography covering the period from 1864 to 1914. It carries an introduction by Dr. Reverdy C. Ransom, the editor of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Review. Inasmuch as it is the record of a distinguished minister in one of the leading Negro denominations, it throws much light on this period, not only in ecclesiastical affairs but in matters touching the life and development of this race during that period. This is apparent to one observing that the book covers the author's twenty-seven years in the pastorate, sixteen years as a chaplain in the United States army, seven years as a professor in Wilberforce University, two of his trips to Europe and one to Mexico. The book is illustrated, but it has no index.

Taking up the work of the General Conference of 1864, the author says much to give the reader an insight into the characters and efforts of the leading churchmen of his denomination at that time. Among those passing in review are Bishops Quinn, Payne, and Nazrey, and others like H. M. Turner and Alexander W. Wayman who later became bishops of that denomination. Then follows his trip South, when the author had the opportunity to participate in the early efforts for the uplift of the freedmen, serving in Georgia and in South Carolina. He then tells how he arose to a position of usefulness and later served larger groups of communicants in Philadelphia and the District of Columbia. Referring to his record as a chaplain in the United States army, the author shows a larger acquaintance with the leading Negro statesmen through whom he obtained the position. The account of his services in this capacity, both in this country and abroad, and especially in the Philippine Islands, sets forth information, not only as to what that portion of the world was doing, but the reaction of this educated Negro to this panorama. Other interesting experiences appear in the account of his extensive travels.

The value of the book is incalculable when one takes into consideration the dearth of such literature bearing on Negroes. This work takes rank with the recent volume of Bishop Coppin entitled Unwritten History, for certainly there are to be found therein interesting romances taken from the life of the Negro and recorded by one of the race in the manner in which these things were impressed upon him and found expression in his mind. This is the sort of literature for which the public has patiently waited and it is devoutly to be desired that other churchmen may find time to leave a written record like these of Bishop Coppin and Chaplain Steward. For anyone desirous of studying the history of the Negro in its various ramifications, such works are indispensable.

The Negro in Literature and Art. By BENJAMIN BRAWLEY. Duffield and Company, New York, 1921. Pp. 197.

This is a revised edition of Professor Brawley's work which appeared in 1918. It follows the general outline of the first edition and sets forth additional facts but not sufficient to justify this claim to revision. The work is biographical, largely devoted to the narrative of the careers of Phyllis Wheatley, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Charles W. Chesnutt, W. E. B. Dubois, William Stanley Braithwaite, Frederick Douglass, Booker Washington, Henry O. Tanner, Meta Warrick Fuller, and Charles S. Gilpin. The unsatisfactory short sketch of Gilpin constitutes the best claim of the work to that of a revised edition.

While this work does not show by historic or philosophical development the evolution of the Negro mind as expressed in the achievements of the race in literature and art, it has some value. To have a publisher place before the public the sketches of so many prominent Negroes who might otherwise remain unknown to the public is a service to be appreciated. The world has too long considered the Negro a human machine restricted to drudgery. Any successful effort, therefore, to bring before the public from time to time the achievements of worthy Negroes, although it may be a repetition of what may be well known to the better informed few, must be welcomed as an undertaking having a direct bearing on popularizing the record of a neglected seventh of the population of the world.

Let us hope, however, that in the near future some other author, grasping more correctly the needs of the time, may set forth in literary form the interesting story of how history has been influenced by the Negro during the various stages of the world's progress and especially how the Negro of today functions efficiently in the life of Europe and America. The public will welcome too a work treating the eloquent appeals of Negro orators, the beautiful poetry voicing the strivings of this oppressed group, and its peculiar philosophy of life constructed while enduring the ordeal of racial proscription.

The Free Negro in Maryland, 1634-1860. By JAMES M. WRIGHT. Longmans, Green and Company, New York; P. S. King and Son, Ltd., London, 1921. Pp. 362.

This is a study in a neglected field of American history. Hitherto very little has been done to inform the world as to the actual contribution of the free Negro prior to the Civil War. Few persons realize that there were half a million such Negroes in the United States at that time. It is a mistake, therefore, to consider this better selected group of the race so insignificant as not to influence the history of the communities in which they lived. A number of histories have been written since the Civil War, however, with a view to meeting this need for a treatment of this neglected group. There have appeared John H. Russell's Free Negro in Virginia and Brackett's The Negro in Maryland. But unfortunately such works have been too rigidly restricted to the discussion of the Negro's legal, social, and religious status as determined by the laws enacted for these purposes in the South rather than to the study of the free Negro himself. As it is well known that many of these laws were never enforced, we are still at sea as to what the free Negro actually was and what he was doing.

While Professor Wright has not altogether succeeded in meeting the requirements for this more scientific study of the free Negro, he has done his task much better than those who have hitherto invaded this field. In addition to covering the ground of other such studies he has undertaken to give the historic background and by statistical method he has presented valuable information as to the apprenticeship of Negro children, the occupations and wages of free Negroes, their acquisition of property, their education and their religious strivings.

In his long-drawn-out conclusion he does not seem to have an altogether favorable impression as to the role played by the free Negro in the State of Maryland. He shows that the Negro was led to despise himself in keeping with the policy of regarding the white man as the superior and the Negro as the inferior. Professor Wright says, however, that the perpetuation of such a handicap for the most needy part of the population was probably not sound social policy. Upon the whites the effects were first to cause at least a formal realization of race solidarity, and secondly, to intensify class lines within the ranks, although not to define the "poor whites" as rigidly as in certain of the sister slave States. On the whole, Professor Wright believes that the free Negro was an asset to the State, but one laden with many of the characteristics of a liability. "The managers of the corporate body to which he (the Negro) belonged," says the writer, "would have been relieved, could they have written him as an item off their accounts. Nevertheless the sympathetic personal attachment of many whites to individual negro servants, whether slave or free, was permanent." Thus ends an informing book with several misconceptions, but nevertheless fraught with valuable facts.

Batouala. By RENE MARAN. Albin Michel, Editor. Paris, 1921. Pp. 189.

This is a novel which was awarded the Goncourt prize in 1921. Inasmuch as it is socially historical, it contains many facts throwing light on the conditions of Africa. Born on the Island of Martinique where the conditions of colonial rule were different from those obtaining in Africa, the scenes of which inspired this indictment of the white man's civilization, Rene Maran doubtless found the situation there so revolting that it evoked from him this work. Without concealing the faults of the natives, Maran discusses the robber concession companies in Africa, forced labor, high taxes and exorbitant prices for goods sold to the natives. Inasmuch as there were no railroads or "pack animals," the Negroes themselves were impressed into a "pack-man system" which together with the Tsetse fly has worked havoc in Africa. The author maintains that this "pack carrying" has caused the death of more than one million Negroes and cites as evidence that in one town the blacks rebelled against this portage service because it was considered better to die than to undergo such a hardship. The book is intended to emphasize the importance of remedying these abuses and suggests as the proper reform that the concessions granted these private companies should be withdrawn and that nature should be given the opportunity to repair the damage done by white men.

This is a stirring note from a man of African blood speaking for Africa from the point of view of the native himself. It is a distinct contribution in that we have a different view from that appearing in the works of white men who have travelled through that continent, seeing it from the outside and then only "through a glass darkly." The cause of truth in that quarter is now fortunate in having there a number of intelligent Africans who, after having been trained in the mission schools and in the best universities of Europe and America, are now beginning to give the other phase of the social, economic, and political questions in Africa. Many of the conditions which have long obtained in that continent have continued for the reason that persons on the outside who might have been struck with holy horror, had such been known, have never learned and, therefore, can hardly realize that such appalling conditions exist. For this valuable contribution, not only from the literary point of view, but from that of the investigator of social and economic problems, the public must feel indebted to Rene Maran.


The first Spring Conference of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History was held in the city of New York on April 3d and 4th. There was a preliminary mass meeting on Sunday, the 2d, at the Mother A. M. E. Zion Church, where Mr. James F. Morton, Prof. John R. Hawkins, and Dr. C. G. Woodson delivered addresses which were enthusiastically received.

On Monday and Tuesday, the 3d and 4th, when the actual meeting began, a larger number of persons from afar were present. The day sessions were held at the 135th Street Branch Library where, on Tuesday morning, Dr. George E. Haynes, Secretary of the Race Commission of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ, opened the discussion of the question "Why one race should know the other one." Other persons participating in the discussion and giving additional information as to the bright prospects for the cooperation of the races in the country were Bishop R. A. Carter, and Cleveland Allen who availed himself of the opportunity to emphasize the importance of placing the bust of Frederick Douglass in the New York Hall of Fame.

At the first evening session held at the Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn the following evening there was a large attendance. The meeting was opened by preliminary remarks by the Director. He was followed by Prof. Albert Bushnell Hart of Harvard University who delivered an informing address on "Involuntary Servitude." Remarks as to the importance of this organization and how the work may be more successfully prosecuted were made by Bishop R. A. Carter of the C. M. E. Church, Bishop Lee of the A. M. E. Z. Church and by Dr. George Frazier Miller, Dr. H. H. Proctor, Dr. W. H. Brown, and Rev. J. B. Adams.

On the following day, the morning session opened with a discussion on "How to promote the Study of Negro History in the Schools," led by Mr. Thomas C. Williams of the Bordentown Industrial School. He brought forward valuable statistics out of his own experience as a teacher in this field and presented several suggestions and plans for the promotion of this work. There followed some discussion of an informing nature by Dr. I. Garland Penn, Secretary of the Methodist Episcopal Church Board of Education for Negroes, and by Dr. W. Y. Bell, who spoke of his researches in the sources bearing on the history of the Negro in Africa.

The Conference closed with an evening session at the Mother A. M. E. Zion Church where addresses were delivered by Dr. I. Garland Penn and Dr. C. G. Woodson. The address of Dr. Penn dealt primarily with the Negro as a factor in church history. Beginning with the early struggles of the denominations and their relations to the Negroes, Dr. Penn enlightened the audience on facts which are not generally known to the public. He closed his informing address with the expression of faith in the importance of the church as a factor in the progress of the Negro. The address by the Director had to do primarily with the history of the Negro by cycles, showing the varying attitude of the white man toward the Negro and the successful efforts of the Negroes to rise in the midst of trying difficulties and to convince the world of their worth. On the whole, this first Spring Conference was a success and justified itself as an innovation.

* * * * *

The Quadrennial Address of the Bishops of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church to the Fourteenth Session of the General Conference, held in St. Louis on the 3d of May, contains not only the information bearing on the church but a valuable retrospect as to the conditions among the Negroes after the World War. Among other topics are mentioned racial retrospect, race prejudice and race superiority, the aftermath of the war, the church and world conditions, and the reaction of white Christianity to lawlessness.







Whether the Teutonic races are superior to the Latin races is a mooted question, subject to prejudiced points of view. However, there is no doubt that there actually exists a great difference in the institutions of religion, law, language, customs, fashions, and moral precepts between, let us say, the Anglo-Saxon and the Portuguese. In other words, the English nation has evolved an English way of living, just as the Portuguese have adapted themselves to governing society, attacking nature in their own way.

Now assume that these two nationalities with their unlike national habits and traditions are planted in the new world. Assume the one as living in a warm temperate clime, and the other under equatorial conditions. Assume that the first nationality is self-sufficient to establish a colony, and opposed to intermarriage with other races; and then imagine the second case, where there exist a few colonists in womanless settlements with consequent marriages between the native and European common, and a large half-breed population as the result. With such diversities in national character, in the make-up of the individuals, in natural and social environment, could we expect the two peoples to react similarly to a given social institution? No wonder then, that slavery in the English colonies of North America was very much unlike the institution as it existed in Brazil.

Brazil was being tilled by slave labor long before the settlement of Jamestown, and still boasted of hordes of slaves on its plantations as late as a quarter century after the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States had been issued. As early as 1585, Pernambuco could claim 10,000 African slaves and Bahia something like three or four thousand,[1] whereas the first shipment of slaves to the English colonies in America was introduced into Jamestown harbor by a Dutch ship as late as August, 1619.[2]

In Brazil the slave trade received an impetus as a result of royal restrictions and Jesuits' opposition to the enslavement of Indians, thereby compelling the more law-abiding and docile settlers to turn from exploiting the native labor and to seek its labor supply from Africa.[3] The labor demands of the great sugar plantations, cotton fields, tobacco lands, and later the mines, kept the slave poachers on the Guinea and Angola Coast busy, so that by the middle of the eighteenth century slaves were entering Brazil on a vast scale. From 1759 to 1803, according to Keller, the colonial registers give as consigned from Angola to Brazil 642,000 Negroes. Thus, by 1800 fully one half of the total Brazilian population of 3,200,000 was slave, and by 1818 there were 1,930,000 slaves besides some 526,000 free Negroes and mulattoes, in all about sixty-three per cent of the total.[4] By the middle of the nineteenth century there was something like three millions of slaves out of a population of seven and a half millions. Lord Palmerston estimated the total number of slaves in the sixties as being 3,000,000;[5] whereas a writer in the "Revue des deux Mondes" puts the number between 2,500,000 and 4,000,000.[6] Dawson quotes the number of slaves in 1856 as being approximately 2,500,000 or forty per cent of the total population.[7] Apparently there is no actual census available on the number of slaves for this period. Needless to say, the slaves easily comprised from forty to fifty per cent of the population, and if we add all those of mixed blood we have a majority of the inhabitants of Brazil.

Now let us turn to the Old South. Slavery we know progressed somewhat in the southern colonies, and to a negligible extent in the New England colonies. The "Asiento" in 1713, by which Great Britain at the close of the War of Spanish Succession secured the right to supply the colonies of Spain with 4,800 slaves annually,[8] augmented the slave trade throughout the new world. Negroes were in demand in the rice areas, cotton fields, and tobacco plantations. In 1710 there were only 50,000 slaves in the United States, the number increased to 220,000 in 1750, to 464,000 in 1770,[9] until by the year 1790 they numbered 697,624.[10] This number constituted one-fifth of our total population.

Slavery, however, was not a venerated institution in the Southland in the eighteenth century. In fact, it was rather supported through the force of habit and the fear of the results of emancipation. Then came Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin. The South went cotton mad. The United States now became the world's producer of raw cotton. Henceforth, slavery was held "the indispensable economic instrument of southern society."[11]

In the first half of the nineteenth century, then, American slavery was at its height. By 1850 the slaves numbered 3,204,313, about a few thousand less than Brazil, which at the opening of the century had so far led it in the number of slaves held.[12] Blake, writing in 1857, shows that by the last census, however, unlike Brazil, the proportion of black to white was not great, being in the neighborhood of fourteen per cent. However, taking the nation in sections, the ratio of black to white in the South was one to two, whereas in the North it was but one to sixty-eight.[13]

As to the extent of slavery in the two nations, in the United States slavery was largely confined to the semi-tropical country south of the Pennsylvania-Maryland line and the Ohio River. A slight form of domestic slavery had existed in New England, and to a greater degree in the Middle Atlantic Colonies, but was virtually unknown in the mines and cattle ranges of the West. In Brazil slavery existed practically everywhere the Europeans settled. There was no geographical section, whose sentiment and economic interests were antagonistic to slave holding. However, it was true that about the plantations of Pernambuco and Bahia slavery existed on a far more extensive scale than in the southern province of Rio Grande De Sul, where slavery was practised at a minimum.

In both the United States and Brazil there were diversified products of slave labor. In Brazil sugar was the great slave labor staple; in America, cotton. Besides cotton, the American slave was the cultivator of tobacco, rice, sugar, hemp, and molasses. In Brazil the other products were tobacco, cotton, and cattle, in addition to some cacao and rubber.

In the United States there were two types of slavery, one the storied domestic slavery of the towns, and the southern country seat, where the Negro was usually benevolently treated and loved as though one of the family. This type of slavery was most common along the Mason-Dixon line. The other type was determined by the large scale enterprises in the cotton and rice fields in the "southern" South, where absentee ownership was often the rule. Here frequently masters knew little about their slaves, and the driving of the mobs of laborers gave Harriet Beecher Stowe, no doubt, her concept of a Simon Legree.[14] In Brazil slaves did every type of work. First of all, they furnished the labor for the great sugar plantations of Pernambuco and also the cotton districts of the north. In the provinces of the south of Brazil, contrary to conditions in the United States, they were employed on cattle ranches. In Minas Geraes they were utilized in the mines. In the cities they carried on all the manual and menial work.

Henderson tells us of his observations of the African in urban occupations during the first decade of the last century in Rio. He relates that owners would send out slaves to do work for other employers, and to turn over their wages to their idle masters. He relates that masters sent slaves in pairs and threes, bearing baskets on their heads, soliciting work. This type was called "Negroes de ganho." Others bore great tubs on their heads with which they drew water from fountains to supply the inhabitants. At dusk the street was crowded with slaves carrying the refuse of the city to the dumps. Slave labor removed the imported goods from the docks. Few had the help of wagons. The English had tried to introduce carts to help the toiling slaves at the wharves, but the custom house clerks would have none of them, as they were making a "haul" on the city by hiring out their slaves, and wagons would lessen the amount of work to be done.[15]

In the United States slaves were owned by planters and private individuals exclusively. In Brazil besides the planter class, large plantations were owned by such religious orders as the Benedictine and Carmelite friars, who treated their slaves with the greatest regard for comfort and ease.[16] Furthermore, there were slaves belonging to the government. As late as the outbreak of the American Civil War, the annual report of the Brazilian minister of finance shows more than 1,500 government slaves.[17] One thing in favor of Brazil, however, was that the horrible shortcomings of absentee ownership on large plantations did not exist to any extent, since most of the proprietors resided on their own respective estates.[18]

Summing up the general condition of the Negro slave in both lands, we notice that (1) Brazilian slavery antedated and postulated American slavery; (2) that there were a larger number of slaves and a greater proportion to the total population in Brazil than in America; (3) that Brazilian slavery received its impetus through the cutting off of the native labor supply and the growth of sugar cultivation; whereas American slavery was stimulated by the invention of the cotton gin; (4) that in both countries slaves were engaged in diversified occupations, except that in Brazil besides agriculture and domestic pursuits, slaves were employed in almost every variety of unskilled and semi-skilled labor; (5) that in Brazil slavery was homogeneously distributed rather than in sectional patches; and (6), finally, that both the state and religious bodies owned slaves in Brazil.


The living conditions of the Negroes in both the United States and Brazil varied in relation to the type of work. Domestic slaves in the former were generally treated well in the households of their masters. In Brazil the domestic slave was usually a Creole.[19] But our interest centers largely on the manner by which the agricultural slave lived, for after all, in him lies the crux to the whole problem. In both Brazil and America slaves were quartered on the great plantations in rude huts. Their diet was simple. Corn meal, bacon, and sweet potatoes were chief items in the diet of the American slave. In Brazil the slave was fed farina (the flour of the mandioca root), salt fish or salt meat, sometimes bacon, and in the mining districts corn flour. In both countries the slave was rudely clad. In Brazil his outfit consisted of a shirt and pants of cotton and a straw hat.[20]

In the United States slaves on the large plantations began work at sunrise, and toiled to the crack of the whip on the great plantations until sundown. Women and children, only half grown, were compelled to do their share in the fields. In Brazil conditions generally were easier for the slave. The Portuguese planter was perhaps less anxious to "drive" the work out of his bondsmen than the more enterprising Anglo-Saxon. Accordingly, we are told that at three in the afternoon, at least at Pernambuco, the heart of the sugar belt, work ceased, and the slave had the remainder of the day to himself, time which many slaves employed in cultivating a private plot of their own, hoping some day to earn enough thereby to purchase their freedom. They, like their northern brothers, were supervised in the field by a "feitor" or taskmaster, usually white, though frequently a Creole, mulatto, freedman, or even in cases, another slave.[22]

Slaves in America welcomed Sundays and the days around Christmas as periods of rest and recreation.[23] In Brazil not only did the slaves have Sundays and Christmas, but something like over thirty holidays on the Catholic calendar. Incidentally, showing there was still a breath of humanity in a stifling age of oppression, it is declared in the "Correio Braziliense" for December, 1815, on page 738, that although the Portuguese had ceased to stop work on many of these holidays, the thirty-five holidays were still enforced as days of cessation of labor in Brazil in order that the slaves might still enjoy the days of rest.[24]

The Negro slave in Africa, according to DuBois, lived generally a polygamous family life. When he came to the Southern Colonies his whole family life was made irregular and unhappy, due to the evil conditions of slavery there. The slave might marry on the plantation, but the very next day he might be sold, and separated from his wife and parents. The auction block is the foulest stain on the whole parasitic institution of slavery in the United States. In Brazil the sale of slaves from one master to another apparently was never as extensive as in our own country.[25] Moreover, the sanctity of marriage was far more highly regarded in Brazil than in the United States. A slave, who wished to be married had first to learn the requisite number of prayers; he must understand the confession, and receive the sacraments. Then, having received the consent of the master, he was married by the vicar. A slave might marry a freeman. If the husband were free and the wife slave, the child of the union was a slave; vice versa, a slave father and free mother produced a free child.[26]

In language, we find in both the Old South and Brazil, that the Africans soon forgot their native dialects, and adopted the tongue of their new home, and their language did not materially influence that of their masters in America.

Religion was a vital factor in slave life. In the Old South, religion was at first discouraged among the slaves. There was a reason for this, for masters knew that nowhere in Christian teachings were there provisions for enslaving Christians.[27] Never was religion encouraged to a great degree. In fact, as late as 1831, Virginia passed a measure, declaring that neither free nor slave Negro might "preach, exhort, or teach in any Negro assemblage." Nevertheless, religious sentiment waxed ever stronger. Beginning with the taboos of the deported tribal priest, and gradually becoming influenced by Christianity, the great Negro Church[28] grew. Sometimes the Negroes were allowed to worship under the same roof as their white superiors,[29] but they usually had to steal away to some secret place for this purpose. In Brazil, however, Christianization of the slaves was an essential. Before the Negroes in Angola (Portuguese West Africa) embarked on the slave vessel for Brazil, they were baptized "en masse." Arriving in the new world, they were branded with the crown, which proved that they had been baptized and that the king's duty on them had been paid. Next, they had to learn the doctrines of the Church and the duties of the religion they were about to embrace. Slaves from the other parts of Africa were Christianized after a year following arrival, during which time they had to learn certain prayers.[30] Most interesting is the existence among the Brazilian slaves of their own religious brotherhoods, to join which was the ambition of every Negro slave. These brotherhoods had their own versions of the Virgin Mary and Our Lady of the Rosary had her hands and face painted black.[31]


Properly speaking, a true slave has no legal rights. Perhaps the words privileges and permits are happier. At any rate, the obligations and restrictions in the Old South were far more stringent than those on the plantations and urban districts of Brazil. Privileges and restrictions for slaves in the South varied according to the laws of the States; whereas in Brazil the centralized colonial government tended to unify what slavery legislation there was.

In both countries, theoretically, a master was liable for indiscriminately killing his slaves or for practising cruelty. To be sure, the penalty was slight for so great an offense, but public opinion in Brazil, especially, more than once pointed its finger at the brutal master. In practice, even the slightest defense of a maltreated slave was rarely heard before the magistrates, for no slave in the case of the South could bear witness against a white. In Brazil the ouvidor of the province was the one to punish the cruel master, but then, who would dare report?[32] In Brazil, if a slave was unruly he was to be turned over to state authorities, and duly given a public punishment.[33]

In the Old South it was possible under certain circumstances for the slave to buy his own freedom, that is, if the master was kindly disposed. In Brazil, it is commonly affirmed that the master was obliged to free his slave if the latter could furnish a sum equivalent to his market price.[34] As a matter of practice, it was easy for the master to deny freedom to his slave under such conditions, and the slave for lack of strength would have to accept the outcome meekly. Furthermore, Christie, British envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary in Brazil during the period of the American Civil War, in a letter to Earl Russell in June, 1861, declares that no such law actually exists on the statute books of Brazil, as that the slave has the right to appear before a magistrate, have his price fixed and to purchase his freedom.[35]

Moreover, the Brazilian slave exercised some right to change masters. The master set a price upon his slave. Then the slave with a note, declaring the master's intentions, might seek out some neighboring planter with a good reputation, and if the desired new master decided to pay the price set, the old master, according to Luccock,[36] was obliged to sell the slave. In practice the plan did not work out so well, because one planter did not care to interfere in the other's affairs, and often the evaluation of the slave could not be agreed upon.[37]

A slave could be and was manumitted in both the United States and Brazil. In Brazil manumission could be accomplished in the following ways: (1) the slave could purchase himself; (2) his master could liberate him during his life; (3) or he could manumit him at his death; (4) a Negro woman who had brought ten children into the world by virtue of her tenth became free; (5) also, the price of a new-born babe was so slight, that often the infant was purchased its freedom by friends.[38] In fact, manumission had been so extensive, that by 1818 mulattoes and free Negroes had become a considerable part of the population.[39] In the United States there were 488,070 freedmen in 1860.[40]

As for holding common ordinary citizen's rights, the Negro slave in both countries was out of consideration. In the Old South, for instance, a slave could be arrested, tried, and condemned with but one witness against him, and without a jury.[41] In Brazil he was equally as defenceless. Professional slave runaway catchers might pounce upon a slave who was about his duty, imprison him, subject him to indignities, on the ground that he was a fugitive, and return him to his master, claiming money for their trouble. In such a sad case, no one would take the slave's part, none would believe his story.[42]

The privileges of the slave as to being secure against violent treatment, of securing his own freedom, of selecting another master, or of claiming any plain citizen's immunities whatsoever, then, were very slight in both Brazil and the United States, but even more so in our own Southland.


Docile as the African slave was, he was bound at times to attempt to free himself from the drudgery and sufferings of his lot. Naturally the most direct, impulsive, and simple method was escape. Hence, we are brought to compare the fugitive slave problem in Brazil to the same problem in the United States.

In our own country the South had to combat an effective force which did not exist in Brazil, namely, the antagonism of an Anti-slavery North, which aided the Negroes by "underground railroads" to escape to free territory, or to cross the Canadian line, where slavery was prohibited. The Dismal Swamp in Virginia, and the Everglades of Florida were favorite hiding places for fugitives.[43] In Brazil the universal prevalence of slavery and the lack of opposition to the practice by any considerable group up to the last days of its existence gave the fleeing slave few friends. However, there was a trackless wilderness to which he might flee. Especially qualified runaway slave catchers were employed to trail such fugitives.

The other method of resisting the institution of slavery was by organized risings. Riots and local revolts occurred occasionally in the Old South, but were never serious and were easily quelled. The most noteworthy revolts of blacks in America were actually mere spouts. In the first half of the eighteenth century, for example, New York was thrown into hysteria at the rumors of a threatened Negro plot,[44] out of which nothing materialized. Gabriel's riot planned in Richmond, Virginia, in 1800, ended very much like that in New York. Another incident was the attempt in 1822 of a certain Negro, Denmark Vesey, to start an insurrection at Charleston, which utterly failed. Nat Turner, a religious fanatic, was the cause of the most serious uprising of all. In 1831 he organized a revolt in Virginia which cost the lives of several score of whites before it was quelled.[45] The other spontaneous turn of the worm was the Amistad incident,[46] in which Negroes of the slave ship Amistad rose and took possession of the ship, and ordered the crew to guide her back to Africa. Instead, the crew steered the vessel into a hospitable harbor, thus baffling its captors. The rising of the slaves of the Creole in somewhat the same manner was more romantic.

All these pin pricks in the South are now to be contrasted to a series of serious organized risings of slaves in Brazil, eruptions which at times threatened the political control or integrity of a whole district or province. In the United States the slave placidly submitted. In Brazil he was at periods actually class conscious.

In Pernambuco, the Brazilian government was actually challenged by slave rebels. It was during the chaotic days of 1630-1654, when the Dutch were in occupation of Pernambuco, and the Brazilians were at war with them, that hundreds of slaves fled to the interior, where they established an independent state, consisting of a cluster of fortified villages. Establishing a rude form of administration and a primitive adaptation of Christianity, they actually governed themselves. After the Dutch had been fairly well beaten, the whites turned to make war upon the villages. For fifty years the villages held out, until in 1697, Palmares, the last and most important of the fortresses, capitulated.[47]

Bahia lived in a perpetual fear of Negro uprising, and well were her fears grounded, for here the Negro was most assertive against his mistreatment. The population of Bahia in the first decade of the nineteenth century is estimated by Henderson as being in the neighborhood of 110,000, two thirds of which was slave. Once let the slave get a start and with such odds in his favor the masters had best beware. For this reason, slaves were prevented as much as possible from organizing. No bondman might go on the streets of Bahia after evening vespers, save with a pass from his master.[48] Yet the slaves did at times organize. In 1808, when John VI, the Portuguese king, arrived in Bahia, the slaves boldly communicated with him, asking that the punishment of one hundred and fifty lashes be abolished.[49]

A short time after this episode, matters came to a culmination. As was usual at holiday time, slaves congregated in plazas, chose a chief for the day, to whom they did homage. This was a customary feat, tolerated by the authorities of the city. On this particular occasion, a friend of Henderson noticed that a white man was being hanged in effigy. He sniffed trouble. Only a few months later the Bahian authorities were lucky, by timely arrests, to save the whole population from being massacred by the enraged slaves in an impending insurrection, whose purpose was nothing less than the wholesale slaughter of the entire white population of the city, with the exception of the governor, D'Arcos, whom the insurrectos were to raise as their prince. Already they had murdered many whites in the outskirts of the city.[50]

Thus, in the Old South, flight was the leading form of resistance to the institution of slavery; whereas in Brazil the more effective form of resistance by organized uprising was more frequently attempted.


Before concluding the theme, it is imperative that we hurriedly skim over the saddest and most serious by-product of United States slavery, race prejudice. We are familiar enough with the limitations of the man of color in the South today. In the days of slavery, discriminations were just as severe, if not more so, against any man of black skin, whether slave, mulatto, freedman, quadroon, or octoroon. The slightest strain of black in a man's pedigree made him a "nigger." A freedman was better than a slave only in an economic way. Otherwise he had virtually no rights. He could not vote, marry a white, hold office, give testimony in case of a white man on trial, and for militia services was limited to fatigue duty. In many parts, however, the freedman could keep his own money, possess land, have slaves, a wife, and even own one gun to protect his home.[51]

In Portuguese America it is often said that the race problem has been allowed to solve itself, which is largely true. The slave in Brazil was looked down upon as a menial laborer, rather than as an offshoot of a lower race. Marriages between the lower classes of either race were not scorned by society. Inter-racial marriages were legal, Brazilian society favoring the marriage of the higher type of the white to the lighter type of Negroid. Of course, among the highest class of the land, the wealthy planters and officials, unions with persons of non-genuine white ancestry were not relished. Here and there existed race prejudice in mild form.[52]

Mulattoes who were free were ranked above freedmen of pure ancestry. The former were generally considered as white, for as a rule in Brazil a man passed as white if he contained a fair degree of white blood in his veins. These free mulattoes had a regiment of their own with their own officers, as was the case with the blacks. Many wealthy planters at Pernambuco were men of color. Many of the Creole blacks in this region were mechanics, who sent out their slaves to do odd mechanical jobs for the owner's profit. The best church and image painter at Pernambuco was black. One of three commanders of the Brazilian forces against the Dutch in the seventeenth century was Henrique Diaz, a Negro.

All told, race prejudice, as a vast problem, was a peculiar complement of the Anglo-Saxon new world colonies' slave problem, for in virtually no other country has slavery ever so viciously contributed to race discord. Brazil, then, may pride herself upon emerging from a slave sustained society, free from the sores of a hideous race conflict.


In brief, it seems that the Brazilian institution of slavery was softer, far less brutal than the United States system. On the other hand, the United States slave system was probably more efficient, for the inefficiency of the management of the plantations of sugar in Brazil allowed the West Indies in the eighteenth century to take the lead in the sugar, rum, and molasses exports. The United States, under the slave system, secured pre-eminence in the production of the world's greatest textile staple, cotton.

It is to be regretted, of course, that slavery has persisted so long, and still thrives in certain Mohammedan lands. It stands today outlawed in the new world, but it will always be a source of regret to progressive citizens of the United States that their country clung to the institution up to within the memory of many yet living, and that she did not relax her tight grasp upon the slave until forced to immediate action in the stress of a fratricidal war. To humane thinkers of Brazil, it will ever be a source of sorrow that their nation has only been slave ridden within the present generation, and even then, egged on to emancipation by the reproaches of an at last awakened world.

Slavery must have differed in details in one country from that in another, but after all, it was shameful in Brazil, shameful in the United States, just as it is shameful at any other spot underneath the blue sky.



[1] Keller, Albert Galloway, Ph.D., Colonization, Boston, Copyright, 1908, p. 145.

[2] DuBois, William Edward Burghardt, The Negro, New York, 1915, p. 164.

[3] Keller, pp. 156-157.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Christie, W. D., Notes on Brazil, London, 1821, pp. 69-76.

[6] Christie, pp. 69-76.

[7] Dawson, Thomas C., South American Republics, two volumes, first edition, vol. I, New York, Copyright, 1903, p. 481.

[8] DuBois, The Negro, p. 152.

[9] Ibid. p. 184.

[10] Negro Population in the United States, 1790-1915, p. 33.

[11] Ingram, J. K., A History of Slavery and Serfdom, London, 1895, p. 285.

[12] Bureau of Census (Dept. of Commerce and Labor), A Century of Population Growth, Washington, 1909, p. 80.

[13] Blake, William O., A History of Slavery and the Slave Trade, Columbus, 1857, p. 808.

[14] DuBois, The Negro, p. 190.

[15] Henderson, James, A History of Brazil, London, 1821, pp. 73-74.

[16] Koster, Henry, Travels in Brazil, second edition, in two volumes, vol. II, London, 1817, pp. 247-259.

[17] Christie, pp. 69-76.

[18] Koster, p. 123.

[19] Ibid., pp. 247-259.

[20] Koster, pp. 247-259.

[21] Encyclopedia Americana, 30 volumes, vol. 27, New York and Chicago, 1919, pp. 395-396.

[22] Americana, pp. 395-396.

[23] Koster, pp. 229-231.

[24] Koster, pp. 246-247.

[25] Southey, vol. III, pp. 781-783, states that in Pernambuco masters were opposed to selling their slaves.

[26] Koster, pp. 246-247.

[27] Brawley, Benjamin Griffith, A Short History of the American Negro, N. Y., 1917, pp. 20-21.

[28] DuBois, p. 197.

[29] Americana, pp. 395-396.

[30] Koster, pp. 238-239.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Koster, pp. 236-238.

[33] Luccock, John, Notes on Rio de Janeiro and the Southern Part of Brazil, London, 1820, p. 591.

[34] Koster, pp. 229-231.

[35] Christie, p. 578.

[36] Luccock, p. 591.

[37] Koster, pp. 233-235.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Keller, pp. 156-157.

[40] Blake, p. 808.

[41] Brawley, pp. 20-21.

[42] Henderson, pp. 72-78.

[43] Brawley, p. 90.

[44] DuBois, p. 196

[45] Ibid.

[46] Brawley, p. 90.

[47] Dawson, p. 375.

[48] Henderson, pp. 339-340.

[49] Henderson, p. 340.

[50] Ibid., p. 340.

[51] Brawley, p. 22.

[52] Koster, ch. XVIII


Columbus discovered this island December 6, 1492. It is of the Great Antilles of the Caribbean Sea, and lies between Cuba and Puerto Rico. He called the island Hispaniola, but Hayti, or Haiti, was its original name. It seems beyond the power of language to exaggerate its beauties, its productiveness, the loveliness of its climate, and its suitability as an abode for man.

At the time of its discovery the island was divided into five states or cacicats. Thus divided it was easily conquered by the Spaniards who subjected the native Indians to slavery. Soon after the discovery, Spain began establishing a plantation colony as opposed to a farm colony. The work fell upon the subjected Indians, who vanished from the island, in about 50 years, leaving the problem of labor to the overseers and the colonists. To meet this need, the Spaniards repaired this loss by bringing in Africans, supplied by the Portuguese, who at that time occupied themselves with the slave trade. Hierrera, who claimed to be an authority, said that one Negro would do more work than four Indians.[1] In 1630, a number of French adventurers were expelled by the Spanish from St. Christophe, which they had taken possession of five years before under the leadership of Neil d'Enambroe of Dieppe. Shortly afterward they established themselves at La Fortue. In 1650 the Spaniards still held the inner and greater islands, Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica; though in Hispaniola French buccaneers were laying the foundations of the prosperous French Colony of St. Domingo. Smouldering resentment on the part of the Spaniards soon burst forth in open hostility, exhibiting more seriousness than before. Then followed savage contention between Spain and France, the Spaniards disputing the rights of the French, the French creeping steadily inward until 1697 by virtue of the treaty of Ryswick an end was put to this struggle. Louis XIV obtained, under this treaty, from Charles II of Spain, the cession of all the western part of the island, which for forty years belonged to the French by virtue of conquest. Spain kept the eastern portion of the island, calling it Santo Domingo. This cession was of great economic value to France, she increased her number of slaves and soon supplied all Europe with cotton and sugar. Santo Domingo, Spain's portion of the island, as compared with Haiti, was a sluggish community. Here also Negroes increased as slaves and soon the population of these two colonies was mostly Negro.

The distinct line between master and slave, white and black, was to become smeared. Soon there grew up four distinct classes. Miscegenation, the result of the contact of European masters with slave women, gave rise to a new class called mulattoes. These were usually given their freedom, and it was the practice to liberate the mother as well. This gave rise to another class, the free-blacks. The mulattoes and free-blacks obtained with emancipation no political rights whatever. At first this caused no worry or serious difficulty. Some of the mulattoes received vast wealth from their fathers and often they were educated abroad, usually in France. Some of the free-blacks accumulated a little property but in a far lesser degree, however. With the increase of mulattoes and free-blacks, and the return of those mulattoes from studies abroad, dissatisfaction grew into thought and subsequently into expression and agitation for political rights. Behind and beneath the growing dissatisfaction of these two classes, the mulattoes and free-blacks, was a resentful and restless slave population.

At the outbreak of the French Revolution, even before it, France had in her possession eight slave holding colonies, San Domingo, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Cayenne, Tabago, St. Lucie, the Isle of France, and the Isle of Bourbon. The most important of these being Martinique and Guadeloupe, with a white population of about 25,000, contained about 150,000 slaves and a small number of free Negroes; and then there was her flourishing colony of San Domingo. Martinique and Guadeloupe were represented in the National Assemblies which brought France into early contact with the issue rising out of racial color.[2] San Domingo with its large population and economic importance offered a more perplexing problem. The population there was large. Moreau de St. Mery quoted the official figures of 1790 as 30,826 whites, 24,262 free Negroes and mulattoes, and 452,000 slaves.[3]

The legal status of slaves here was substantially the same as that of slaves in the tropical colonies of other nations; in fact, the Western European slave code remains practically the same. This slave colony seems singular in being unfavorable to the health and life of the natives. The annual excess of deaths over births amounted to about two and one half per cent. Added to this death rate was the rapid spread of the feverish desire for wealth at any cost among the peoples of European countries. The slave trade was profitable. The demand for slaves was continual, amounting at this period to anywhere between 30,000 to 35,000 a year in the French West Indies. Human life and rights were subordinate to gold, despite the position assumed by these nations as champions of Christianity.

The question of mulattoes and freedmen and their descendants was peculiar to San Domingo. The free Negroes and mulattoes were four fifths the whites in number. When the offspring of illicit unions between slave women and their masters attained their majority they were emancipated, and in many cases their mothers were set free also. As follows a system of servitude,

"The Sons of gods take the Daughters of men, but The Sons of men dare not touch the daughters of the gods."

And thus it came about the number of these classes increased rapidly. The poor laboring class of the community, corresponding somewhat to the class of "poor whites" within the slave section of our country, was made up of free Negroes.

"According to the Code Noir of Louis XIV, freemen and their descendants were entitled to all the rights and privileges of citizens of France. However, in defiance of the law, race prejudice had built up during the eighteenth century a special body of customary rules for their control, and this custom was recognized by numerous administrative edicts and royal ordinances." Great effort was put forth to keep the possibilities of uprisings at a distance. Any use of fire arms was prohibited even the mulattoes, and the commissioned officers of military service were kept white without exception. A trace of Negro blood was a bar to individual attainment, even marriage to a mulatto received its share of condemnation. A strong feeling of social repugnance was being brought into play which outlawed all social intercourse between the races. This sort of thing, going on in so many different places—practically wherever the Western European colonized—became imbedded in custom and in places was expressed in law.

While the Code Noir of Louis XIV went even so far as to lay down certain practices as the fundamental law of slavery, it was apparently only a "law." There was a lack of the moral support necessary to insure for it even a respectable amount of operation. There were at work, however, forces which sought to create a widespread social antipathy to slavery. This resulted somewhat from the situation in England where there was a strong sentiment against slavery. The Quakers in England, whose founder had been a fearless critic of the institution, were foremost in the attack on slavery. In 1727 the Society of Friends passed a resolution of censure against the slave trade, and in 1758 its influence was strongly exerted to keep its members from even an indirect connection with it. In 1765, Granville Sharp began to look after the interests of Negroes who were claimed in British ports as slaves, and in 1772 was instrumental in securing the famous Somerset decision that, as soon as any slave set foot on British soil he became free. In 1783 the Society of Friends submitted to Parliament the first petition for the abolition of the slave trade. In that same year Thomas Clarkson won the prize in a competition in Latin composition at Cambridge upon the assigned subject, "Whether it is right to enslave others against their will." His essay immediately became a standard authority among opponents of the trade and the institution. A greater consequence was that Clarkson himself was so inspired he devoted his life to the cause of the blacks. In 1787 a "Committee for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade" was organized. It was composed chiefly of Quakers, having Granville Sharp as President and Thomas Clarkson as its most prominent member. Their work was organized to embrace appeals to the public and petitions to the government. Wilberforce, a member of Parliament and an intimate friend of Pitt, was to head the campaign in Parliament, while the Committee was to solicit funds, collect information and arouse public sentiment. This campaign lasted until the abolition of British slave trade in 1806.

This work in behalf of freedom soon extended to France. A little over three months after the London Committee was formed it received a letter from Jean Pierre Brissot, requesting that he and Etienne Claviere might become associates of the committee for the purpose of publishing French translations of its literature and collecting subscriptions to be remitted to London for the good of the common cause. The committee declined the offer of financial aid but elected Brissot an honorary member and recommended that a society be formed in France. Now both Brissot and Claviere were active figures in the Revolution. Claviere was at one time minister of finances and Brissot, most ardent of revolutionists, was a Parish Deputy during the Reign of Terror, and a leader of the Girondins from 1789 to 1792. Accordingly, a society was formed in Paris in February, 1788, under the name of the Society of Friends of the Blacks, with Claviere as President. It adopted the same seals as the Committee in England but was an entirely independent organization. Directly its influence began to draw within its folds powerful figures. The famous Comte de Mirabeau was a charter member, Marquis de Lafayette, an officer who had served in the American Revolution, and Condorcet, a member of the Convention, whose report as a member of the Committee of Public Instruction of the Legislative Assembly formed the actual basis of subsequent plans for education, were among the first additions to its membership. Other prominent members who came in later were Sieyes, Petion, Gregoire, Robespierre, and the Duke de la Rochefoucauld. Mirabeau issued the early publications of the society as supplements to his journal; at a later time Brissot's journal, the "Patriote francaise," became the organ of the society.

With Brissot's return from a visit to America in 1788, the society went seriously to work. In America he seems to have met some things which clinched his convictions and determinations. Coincidental, the National Assembly was about to meet, deputies were being elected, cahiers were being written, and the country was stirred up over the watchword liberty. This offered an exceptional advantage to the society. What better opportunity could one anticipate to secure the abolition of slavery and the slave trade, the most flagrant violations of the principles of equality and liberty ever known? On February 3, 1789, Condorcet, at that time the President, addressed a circular letter to all the bailiwicks of France, urging that there be inserted in the cahiers a demand that the Estates-General destroy the slave trade and make preparations for the ultimate abolition of slavery. The results of this campaign were disappointing. As a whole the cahiers made it perfectly clear to the Society and all concerned, that an attack on slavery was not a matter vital to the mass of the nation, and that success, if it came at all, must be due to the loyalty of the Estates-General to the principles of equality and liberty, and to the ability and energy of the little group of intellectual leaders who made up the Society of Friends of the Blacks. This was the status of the controversy. Anti-slavery agitation was confined to an intellectual elite, promoted by an appeal to the mind.

In the National Assembly the contest between Friends of the Blacks and defenders of slavery began in connection with the application of a delegation for admission to the Estates-General as representatives of San Domingo. Early in 1788 there was formed in Paris an organization, the "colonial committee" by name, composed of certain colonial proprietors residing in France, a few merchants interested in colonial trade, and a small number of actual residents of San Domingo, which began an agitation for representation of the colony in the Estates-General, which had been promised for 1792. The committee circulated pamphlets and the like. It made a formal request of the king for representation of San Domingo. The request was refused by the Council of State. The agitators boldly drew up and sent to the colony a plan for electoral assemblies. These assemblies were held without any legal sanction, and thirty-one deputies were elected.

The committee continued its work in France, and succeeded in securing a demand for the admission of colonial deputies in at least fourteen cahiers of primary assemblies. Repeated applications were made to Necker and to the Minister of Marine, but without result, and when the Estates-General opened the representatives of San Domingo had no legal standing. Nevertheless part of the deputies presented themselves on June 8, making application separately to each of the three orders.

The third estate alone proved receptive. On June 20, eight San Domingo deputies were allowed to take the Tennis Court Oath. On June 27 the Committee on Credentials made a report unanimously recommending the admission of the colonial deputation but declared itself unable to agree on the number of deputies to which the colony was properly entitled. The Assembly accepted the report, apparently without a dissenting voice, and postponed discussion of the question of numbers to June 3. This brought squarely before the Assembly the delicate problem of slavery and the status of free-blacks under the new regime, and brought upon the colonial delegation the wrath of the powerful Society of the Friends of the Blacks.

The Friends of the Blacks recognized in this San Domingo delegation a foe. Mirabeau's newspaper challenged their right to count the slaves as a basis of representation, and taunted them with bitter words. "Either count your Negroes as men or as beasts; if they are men, free them, let them vote, let them be elected to office. If they are cattle, let the number of deputies be proportional to your human population; we have counted neither our horses nor our mules."[4]

Between the vote of admission on June 27 and the final debate on July 3 and 4 the Friends of the Blacks awoke to the importance of the issue. Condorcet published a vigorous pamphlet denouncing the slave holder and all his works. "We are tempted," said he, "to advocate a law which shall exclude from the National Assembly every man, who, as a slave holder, is interested in the maintenance of principles contrary to the natural rights of man, which are the only purpose of every political organization.... The natural rights of man to be governed only by laws to which he has given his consent cannot be invoked in favor of a man who is himself at the very moment violating the law of nature." The pamphlet closes with the remark that the planters can doubtless speak concerning their own interests, "but that on their lips the sacred word 'rights' would be blasphemy against reason."[5]

When the question was reopened on July 3, Mirabeau took the lead in the discussion, raising again the question of counting the slaves, and arguing further that the so-called deputies really represented only about one half the free population, since the whole body of free blacks and mulattoes had been excluded from suffrage. The spokesman of the colonial deputation was the Marquis de Gouy d'Arsy, a colonial proprietor residing in Paris, from the beginning a leader in the movement for colonial representation. Gouy made no attempt to defend the principle of slave representation. He based his claim for the admission of eighteen or twenty delegates on the wealth and commercial importance of the colony. His weak point was the exclusion of free tax-paying mulattoes from the electoral assemblies. He said that since the mulattoes were natural enemies of the whites it would be dangerous to give them any influence, an argument which made a bad impression on the Assembly. The debate was finished the next day, and the number of deputies was fixed by a compromise at six. The chief importance of this discussion was the prominence which it gave to two questions that the colonial deputies were anxious to keep smothered—slavery and the civil status of the free Negroes. During the debate on June 27 the Duke de la Rochefoucauld found opportunity to present the aims of the Society of Friends of the Blacks, and requested the future consideration of the problem of emancipation. Remarks by other deputies to the effect that something be done to improve the condition of slaves received hearty applause.

The French Revolution plunged the island into a state of chaos. The vast majority of the population of the western colony were slaves, and the number of free blacks and mulattoes were nearly equal to the number of whites. "The news of the Revolution had encouraged each class of the colonial population to expect the realization of its peculiar hopes. The planters desired freer access to the markets of the world, the poor whites hoped for the advantages that their richer neighbors alone enjoyed, the free blacks and mulattoes for civil equality; even the slaves cherished hopes of liberty."[6] The clash of interests brought on civil war in Santo Domingo. The situation here, the richest of the sugar colonies, was serious; it soon received special attention from the home government. A colonial assembly was chosen, and did in miniature what the National Assembly undertook for all France. It controlled royal officers and troops, attempted to reorganize the administrative system and the courts, and even opened the ports to products specifically excluded by a royal ordinance. The question of the status of the free blacks had reached an acute stage. As property holders their interests were identical with those of the whites, provided the whites did not exclude them from a share in the civil conquests of the French Revolution. The National Assembly finally gave to the colonies an organization similar to the local administrative system of France except that it delegated executive powers to a governor. The constitution of the colony, once approved by the national legislature, could not be changed without the demand or consent of the local assemblies. To this local legislature was given the responsibility for the making of laws on all matters except trade and defense. If the governor did not withhold his consent in order that the authorities at Paris should first be consulted, laws could be put into force provisionally before they received the final sanction of the National Assembly and the Crown.

The free people of color petitioned the National Assembly for political rights and privileges in 1789. On May 15, 1791, on the question of the free blacks, the Assembly passed a decree declaring that people of color, born of free parents, were entitled to all the privileges of French citizens. When the news reached the island the mulattoes and free Negroes rejoiced. The whites were opposed to any such measure. Thereupon the governor of the island delayed promulgating the decree while he communicated with the home government. The free people of color were angered and civil strife followed. The mulattoes took up arms against the whites. To complicate matters, the slaves rose in insurrection in August, 1791. The whites, finding themselves in a perilous situation, decided to accede to the demands of the free people of color, who in turn promised to combine with the whites to suppress the revolt. Meanwhile, in the last days of the Assembly the friends of the planters succeeded in having the whole matter referred to the colonial assemblies. The people of color, mulattoes and free blacks, fled to arms again and joined the slaves, leading bands of them against the whites or remained indifferent in actual warfare. Then followed actual civil war. The French land owners or "colons" called in the English to help them combat the blacks.[7] The English came to their aid. By the end of 1793 the latter took possession of a part of the island which seemed lost to France, being occupied partly by Spaniards and partly by English, when Toussaint L'Ouverture, the bondman leading the revolting slaves, espoused the cause of France. Following months of bloody war, France, apprehensive of a British invasion in full force, and not being able to put down the insurgents, weary and tired of the struggle, conciliated. August, 1793, Universal Freedom was proclaimed—this measure was ratified by the National convention early the following year. This was the first time in the history of the world a legislative assembly ever decreed the abolition of human slavery.

The British, having taken Port-au-Prince and besieged the French Governor at Port-de-la-Paix when the blacks under Toussaint L'Ouverture defeated them and released the French Governor, abandoned the island in 1797. L'Ouverture, who up to forty years of age had been a slave, thus succeeded in ridding the island of the Spaniards and the English. The French government rewarded him by appointing him major-general and governor of the island.

This left L'Ouverture Commander-in-Chief and virtually dictator of the island. He set up a Republic, drew up a Constitution, which he sent to Napoleon. For answer Napoleon appointed Leclerc governor of the colony, and sent a formidable army to reduce the authority of L'Ouverture. War broke out again. After several engagements L'Ouverture surrendered and retired on his properties. He was subsequently decoyed on board a French vessel, kidnapped and deported to Paris. He was then placed by Bonaparte in a damp prison of the fortress of Joux on the chilly heights of Jura where he died. In September, 1802, the peoples of color took up arms against French domination under the leadership of General Dessalines and swore to die rather than remain subservient any longer.[8] By the end of 1793 Rochambeau, who on the death of General Leclerc was put in command by Bonaparte, was hard pressed in the city of Cape Haitien by black troops and was compelled to capitulate and "the power of France was lost on the island forever." On January 1, 1804, Haiti, as it was better known, proclaimed its independence with General Dessalines as ruler. Slavery was abolished forever. In 1822 Haiti, the western colony, controlled the whole of the island; but in 1844 the eastern part seceded and established an independent government known today as the Dominican Republic.



[1] Mossell, Toussaint L'Ouverture, p. xiii.

[2] Hardy, Negro Question in French Revolution, p. 1.

[3] Moreau de St. Mery, Response, etc., 72.

[4] Hardy, The Negro Question in the French Revolution, p. 10.

[5] Condorcet's Works.

[6] Bourne, Revolutionary Period in Europe, p. 110.

[7] American Encyclopedia—Haiti.

[8] Mossell, Toussaint L'Ouverture.


There are a number of interesting references in the literature of the times to the part played by Negro refugees in defending the frontier of Canada during the troubles of 1838. The outbreaks in both Upper and Lower Canada in 1837 were followed by a series of petty attacks along the border in which American sympathizers participated. Sandwich, on the Detroit River, was one of the objectives of the attacking parties and there were also threats on the Niagara River frontier. One of the parties of "rebels" had taken possession of Navy Island, in the Niagara River, and a small ship, the Caroline, was used for conveying supplies. A Canadian party under command of Colonel MacNab crossed the river, seized the ship and after setting it afire allowed it to drift over the falls. This gave rise to an international issue and was the occasion of much bluster on both sides of the line that happily ended as bluster. All along the border on the American side there were "Hunter's Lodges"[1] organized during 1838 and this movement, joined with the widespread political disaffection, made the times unhappy for the Canadian provinces.

Sir Francis Bond Head, who was Governor of Upper Canada when the troubles of 1837 began and whose conduct did not tend materially to quelling the unrest, wrote his "apologia" a couple of years later and in it he speaks of the loyalty of the colored people, almost all of whom were refugees from slavery. He says:

"When our colored population were informed that American citizens, sympathizing with their sufferings, had taken violent possession of Navy Island, for the double object of liberating them from the domination of British rule, and of imparting to them the blessings of republican institutions, based upon the principle that all men are born equal, did our colored brethren hail their approach? No, on the contrary, they hastened as volunteers in wagon-loads to the Niagara frontier to beg from me permission that, in the intended attack upon Navy Island, they might be permitted to form the forlorn hope—in short they supplicated that they might be allowed to be foremost to defend the glorious institutions of Great Britain."[2]

Rev. J. W. Loguen, in the narrative of his life, says that he was urgently solicited by the Canadian government to accept the captaincy of a company of black troops who had been enrolled during the troubles. As the affair was then about all over by the joint effort of the Canadian and United States governments, he did not accept the offer but he makes this interesting comment:

"The colored population of Canada at that time was small compared to what it now is; nevertheless, it was sufficiently large to attract the attention of the government. They were almost to a man fugitives from the States. They could not, therefore, be passive when the success of the invaders would break the only arm interposed for their security, and destroy the only asylum for African freedom in North America. The promptness with which several companies of blacks were organized and equipped, and the desperate valor they displayed in this brief conflict, are an earnest of what may be expected from the swelling thousands of colored fugitives collecting there, in the event of a war between the two countries."[3]

Josiah Henson, founder of the Dawn colony in Upper Canada and famous as the reputed "original" of Mrs. Stowe's Uncle Tom, says in his narrative that he was captain of the second company of Essex colored volunteers and that he and his men assisted in the defence of Fort Malden (Amherstburg) from Christmas 1837 to May of 1838. He says further that he assisted in the capture of the schooner Anne, an affair which took place on January 9, 1838.[4]

John MacMullen, in his History of Canada, says that among the troops on the border during 1838 "were two hundred Indians from Delaware, and a body of colored men, settlers in the western part of the province, the poor hunted fugitives from American slavery, who had at length found liberty and security under the British flag."[5]

A rather interesting aftermath of the rebellion is contained in an item appearing in the Amherstburg Courier of March 10, 1849, reporting a meeting of Negroes in Sandwich township to protest against the Rebellion Losses Bill.[6] Colonel Prince was thanked for his opposition to the measure.[7]

Eighty years after the rebellion the Negro men of Canada were again called upon to fight, this time in another land and in a conflict that was destined to affect every race and every land. The service that was rendered in the Canadian army by the colored companies of pioneers will some day receive due recognition at the hands of an historian. In the meantime, it is not forgotten by the people of Canada.



[1] A convention of Hunter's Lodges of Ohio and Michigan, held at Cleveland, September 16-22, 1838, was attended by seventy delegates.

[2] Head, Sir, F. B., A Narrative (London, 1839), page 392.

[3] Loguen, J. W., The Rev. J. W. Loguen as a Slave and as a Freeman (Syracuse, 1859), pp. 343-345.

[4] An autobiography of the Rev. Josiah Henson, "Uncle Tom," from 1789 to 1881 (London, Ont., 1881), page 177. A sketch of Josiah Henson appeared in THE JOURNAL OF NEGRO HISTORY for January, 1918 (Vol. III, no. 1, pp. 1-21). This is condensed from his autobiography which appeared in several editions.

[5] MacMullen, John, History of Canada from its first Discovery to the Present Times (Brockville, Ont., 1868), pp. 459-460. He gives as his authority Radclift's despatch, "10th January, 1838."

[6] The Rebellion Losses Bill proposed compensation for those who had sustained losses in Lower Canada (Quebec) during the troubles of 1837. It was fiercely opposed in Upper Canada (Ontario) by the element that regarded the French as "aliens" and "rebels." When Lord Elgin, the Governor, gave his assent to the bill in 1849 there were riots in Montreal in which the Parliament Buildings were burned.

[7] Col. Prince was one of the leaders in the defense of the Canadian frontier along the Detroit River during 1838, afterwards a member of the Canadian Parliament. During the troubles of 1838 he ordered the shooting of four prisoners without the form of a trial. The act was condemned by Lord Brougham and others with great severity and is one dark spot on the records of the Canadian forces during the trying period.


With Lott Cary and Colin Teague[2] sailing for Africa in 1821, a new era of missionary expansion was begun by Negro Baptists. The distinctive feature of this epoch, which may be termed modern, is the fact that behind these men was the Richmond African Baptist Missionary Society, which gave them support, such as it was, and to which periodic reports were made. True enough, Lott Cary was under appointment of the General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States of America but only that fact and the sum of $200 in cash and $100 in books appropriated for his use up to 1826[3] could not be sufficient evidence to claim him wholly as a missionary of the General Missionary Convention although he did receive some advisory instructions from its board.[4] Indeed, Lott Cary was the first American Baptist missionary in Africa, the first representative of a purely Negro missionary organization to labor beyond the limits of the United States.


Lott Cary was born on the estate of William A. Christian,[5] in Charles City County, Virginia,[6] thirty miles from Richmond,[7] about four years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. There was no exact record kept of the time of his birth, although it appears to have been about the year 1780.[8]

His mother and father lived together on the great plantation of their master, centering their attention on Lott, their only child. His mother gave no public profession of religion although she died giving evidence that she accepted the Christian faith. His father, however, was a pious man, a respected member of a Baptist church.[9] As a result, Lott received some early religious training which may have influenced his later life.

But there were temptings in his life; there were battles in his soul. Why should a slave boy hope? Could he ever become free? Why not drink life to the dregs? The chief among his playmates, he became the mischief-maker of the place. Profligate, profane, polluter was his title. Lott Cary tried to reform but he was only able to control himself a few days. Before long, in 1804,[10] he was hired out by the year as a common laborer[11] in the Shochoe tobacco warehouse at Richmond.[12] There he grew more intemperate and profane and showed little signs of reformation.

It was not reformation that he needed but regeneration as was evidenced one Lord's day in 1807[13] as he sat in the gallery of the First Baptist Church[14] and heard the minister preach. He was hopefully converted and was baptized by Pastor John Courtney[15] into the fellowship of the church. There he heard a sermon on the third chapter of the gospel of John which so inspired him that he obtained a Testament in order that he might read for himself the Lord's interview with Nicodemus. In a short time he knew the alphabet, and with very little assistance from the men at the warehouse,[16] he learned to read this chapter and also to write.[17]

Cary was a changed man—industrious, thrifty, Christian. Whereas he had been idle now he devoted his leisure time to reading and it is said that one of the books that he read was Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.[18] By his application to reading and writing he was able in a little time to make dray tickets and to act as shipping clerk.[19] His work in the warehouse was "such as no person, white or black, has equalled in the same situation.... He could produce any one of the hundreds of hogsheads of tobacco the instant it was called for."[20] For these services he was often given a five dollar note and the privilege to sell small quantities of waste tobacco for his own benefit.[21] He saved the money obtained in this way, and with the aid of a subscription among his employers accumulated by 1813 $850 with which he purchased freedom for himself and his two children.[22]

The following extract of a letter from William Crane to the Rev. Obadiah Brown of Washington City, which he forwarded to the corresponding secretary of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, corroborates, in the main, the foregoing statements as well as gives some interesting sidelights on the lives of Cary and Teague:

Richmond, March 28, 1819.

You will probably recollect, that I introduced you to two of our colored brethren in this place, who are accustomed to speak in public; one named Collin Teague, the other Lot Carey. Ever since the missionary subject has been so much agitated in this country, these two brethren, associated with many others, have been wishing they could, in some way, aid their unhappy kindred in Africa; and I suppose you have heard of their having formed a missionary society for this sole purpose. Some letters published in No. VI of the Luminary (written by Kizell, the Baptist leader in Sherbro Island and by some others) have served to awaken them effectually. They are now determined to go themselves to Africa; and the only questions with them are, in what way will it be best for them to proceed? and what previous steps are requisite to be taken? They think it necessary to spend some time in study first. They both possess industry and abilities, such as, with the blessing of Providence, would soon make them rich. It is but two or three years since either of them enjoyed freedom; and both have paid large sums for their families. They now possess but little, except a zealous wish to go and do what they can. Brother Lot has a wife, and several little children. He has a place a little below Richmond, that cost him $1500, but will probably not sell for more than $1000 at this time. Brother Collin has a wife, a son 14 years of age, and a daughter of 11, for whom he has paid $1300, and has scarcely any thing left. Both their wives are Baptists; their children, amiable and docile, have been to school considerably; and I hope, if they go, will likewise be of service. Collin is a saddler and harness maker. He had no early education. The little that he has gained, has been by chance and peacemeal. He has judgment, and as much keenness of penetration as almost any man. He can read, though he is not a good reader, and can write so as to make out a letter. The little knowledge he has of figures, has been gained by common calculations in business. Lot was brought up on a farm; and for a number of years has been chief manager among the labourers in the largest tobacco ware house in this city. He has charge of receiving, marking and shipping tobacco; and the circumstance that he receives $700 a-year wages may help you to form an estimate of the man. He reads better than Collin, and is in every respect a better scholar. They have been trying to preach about ten or eleven years, and are both about forty years of age.[23]

Cary had been licensed to preach by the First Baptist Church, Richmond, and he exercised his talent every Lord's day among the colored people on plantations a few miles from Richmond.[24] It was not many months before he was the highly esteemed pastor of the African Baptist Church in Richmond. As a preacher, Cary was not polished, but "his ideas would sometimes burst upon you in their native solemnity, and awaken deeper feelings than the most polished, but less original" and artificial discourses.[25]

Lott Cary early exhibited the power of an organizer. In 1815, William Crane, who was a member of the First Baptist Church, felt that his ought to use his talent among the twelve hundred Negro members of that congregation. Consequently, he and David Roper[26] gratuitously opened a tri-weekly night school in the gallery of the old church with Lott Cary, Colin Teague and fifteen or twenty leading members of the church as pupils.[27] Now Crane was able to inspire such a group to practical missionary service, for he himself had been repeatedly urged to become a missionary and had had close contact with Luther Rice as one of the managers of the General Missionary Convention. But it was left to Lott Cary to excite among the Negroes a strong interest in behalf of Africa. The result was the formation of the Richmond African Baptist Missionary Society in 1815. Crane was the president or corresponding secretary.[28] This was necessary, for since the various uprisings of Negroes[29] were making Virginia a hotbed of discontent, the city of Richmond was wary of having Negro meetings unless they were sponsored by white persons. Crane represented the Society in the General Missionary Convention,[30] formed in 1814, and remained its delegate for about twenty years.

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