Page images

and transmitted to your Lordship in my Dispatch of the 20 January of this Year, will be found to contain the only measure of active co-opera. tion against the Slave-trade, which the Government of The United States is inclined to suggest, in answer to the Proposals which I have made by His Majesty's Command.

The Committee on Slave-trade, appointed by the House of Representatives, gave in a Report favourable, in a degree, to the mutual concession of a limited right of search; but the Question was not taken up during the Session. A printed Copy of the Report is inclosed.

To remove every remaining doubt with respect to the intentions of the American Government, on the subject of the proposed co-operation, I called on Mr. Adams this morning, and, referring to the conversations which had taken place between us some time before, inquired whether any thing had occurred during the late Session of Congress to induce him to view my former Proposals in a more favourable light. I am concerned to state that his answer was in the negative; and he declared explicitly that nothing, as he believed, could induce the President to admit the proposed right of search. Perceiving no appearance of change on this point, I expressed a hope that the American Government might still be able to suggest some measures, in place of those proposed by your Lordship, of a more extensive and efficient nature, than merely furnishing the Cruizers employed by each Party on the African Coast with commou Instructions. I observed that, without presuming to undervalue the latter suggestion, it could only be considered, at best, as capable of contributing in a secondary degree to the object in view. Mr. Adams replied, that he knew of nothing further which the American Government had to propose; and seemed to refer exclusively to the Note which he had addressed to me in the beginning of January. He added, however, that he would inform the President of our conversation, and, in case of any further suggestion arising on his part, would hasten to communicate it to me.

I have, &c. Viscount Castlereagh, K. G.


(Inclosure.)-Report of a Committee of the House of Representatives

of The United States. Report of the Committee to which was referred so much of the President's Message as relates to the Slave-trade.

February 9th, 1821.- Read, and ordered to lie upon the Table.

The Committee to which is referred so much of the President's Message as relates to the Slave-trade, and to which are referred the Two Messages of the President, transmitting, in pursuance of the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 4th of December, a Report of the Secretary of State, and inclosed Documents, relating to the Negotiation for the suppression of the Slave-trade;

REPORT,—That the Committee have deemed it advisable,"previous to entering into a consideration of the proposed co-operation to exterminate the Slave-trade, to take a summary review of the Constitution and Laws of The United States relating to this subject. It will disclose the earnestness and zeal with which this Nation has been actuated, and the laudable ambition that has animated her Councils, to take a lead in the reformation of a disgraceful practice, and one which is productive of so much human misery; it will, by displaying the constant anxiety of this Nation to suppress the African Slave-trade, afford ample testimony, that she will not be the last to persevere in measures wisely digested to effectuate this great and most desirable object, whenever such measures can be adopted in consistency with the leading principles of her Local Institutions.

In consequence of the existence of Slavery in many of the States when British Colonies, the habits and means of carrying on industry could not be suddenly changed; and the Constitution of The United States yielded to the provision, that the migration or importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year 1808.

But long antecedent to this period, Congress legislated on the subject wherever its power extended, and endeavoured, by a system of rigorous penalties, to suppress this unnatural Trade.

The Act of Congress of the 22d March, 1794, contains Provisions, that no Citizen or Citizens of The United States, or Foreigner, or any other Person coming into, or residing within the same, shall, for himself or any other Person whatsoever, either as master, factor or owner, build, fit, equip, load, or otherwise prepare any Ship or Vessel, within any Port, or Place of The United States, nor shall cause any Ship or Vessel to sail from any Port or Place within the same, for the purpose of carrying on any Trade or Traffick in Slaves to any Foreign Country, or for the purpose of procuring from any Foreign Kingdom, Place or Country, the Inhabitants of such Kingdom, Place or Country, to be transported to any Foreign Country, Port or Place whatever, to be sold or disposed of as Slaves, under the penalty of the forfeiture of any such Vessel, and of the payment of large sums of money by the Persons offending against the directions of the Act.

By an Act of the 3d of April, 1798, in relation to the Mississippi Territory, to which the constitutional provision did not extend, the introduction of Slaves, under severe penalties, was forbidden, and every Slave imported contrary to the Act was to be entitled to freedom.

By an Act of the 10th of May, 1800, the Citizens or Residents of this Country were prohibited from holding any right or property in Vessels employed in transporting Slaves from one Foreign country to another, on pain of forfeiting their right of property, and also double the value of that right in money, and double the value of their interest in the Slaves; nor were they allowed to serve on board of Vessels of The United States, employed in the transportation of Slaves from one Country to another, under the punishment of fines and imprisonment; nor were they permitted to serve on board of Foreign Ships employed in the Slave-trade. By this Act, also, the commissioned Vessels of The United States were authorized to seize Vessels and Crews employed contrary to the Act.

By an Act of the 28th February, 1803, Masters of Vessels were not allowed to bring into any Port (where the Laws of the State prohibited the importation) any Negro, Mulatto or other Person of colour, not being a Native, a Citizen, or registered Seaman of The United States, under the pain of penalties; and no Vessel having on board Persons of the above description, was to be admitted to an entry; and if any such Person should be landed from on board of any Vessel, the same was to be forfeited.

By an Act of the 2d March, 1807, the importation of Slaves into any Port of The United States was to be prohibited aster the 1st of January, 1808, the time prescribed by the constitutional provision. This Act contains many severe provisions against any interference or participation in the Slave-trade, such as heavy fines, long imprisonments, and the forfeitures of Vessels. The President was also authorized to employ armed Vessels to cruize on any part of the Coast where he might judge attempts would be made to violate the Act; and to instruct the Commanders of armed Vessels to seize and bring in Vessels found on the high Seas contravening the provisions of the Law.

By an Act of the 20th of April, 1818, the Laws in prohibition of the Slave-trade were further improved. This Act is characterized with a peculiarity of legislative precaution, especially in the 8th Section, which throws the labour of proof upon the Defendant, that the coloured Persons brought into The United States by him had not been brought in contrary to the Laws.

By an Act of the 3d of March, 1819, the power is continued in the President to employ the armed Ships of The United States, to seize and bring into Port any Vessel engaged in the Slave-trade by Citizens or Residents of The United States; and such Vessels, together with the goods and effects on board, are to be forfeited and sold, and the proceeds to be distributed in like manner as is provided by Law for the distribution of prizes taken from an Enemy, and the Officers and Crew are to undergo the punishments inflicted by previous Acts. The President, by this Act, is authorized to make such regulations and arrangements as he may deem expedient, for the safe keeping, support, and removal beyond the limits of The United States, of all such Negroes, Mulattoes or Persons of Colour as may have been brought within its jurisdiction; and to appoint a proper Person or Persons, residing on the Coast of Africa, as Agent or Agents for receiving the Negroes,

Mulattoes or Person of Colour delivered from on board of Vessels seized in the prosecution of the Slave-trade.

And in addition to all the aforesaid Laws, the present Congress, on the 15th of May, 1820, believing that the then existing provisions would not be sufficiently available, enacted, that if any Citizen of The United States, being of the Crew or Ship's Company of any Foreign Ship or Vessel engaged in the Slave-trade, or any person whatever, being of the Crew or Ship's Company of any Ship or Vessel owned in the whole or in part, or navigated for or in behalf of any

Citizen or Citizens of The United States, shall land from any such Ship or Vessel, and on Foreigu shore, seize any Negro or Mulatto, not held to service or labour by the Laws of either of the States or Territories of The United States, with intent to make such Negro or Mulatto a Slave; or shall decoy, or forcibly bring or carry, or shall receive such Negro or Mulatto on board any such Ship or Vessel, with intent as aforesaid, such Citizen or Person shall be adjudged a Pirate, and on conviction shall suffer death.

The immoral and pernicious practice of the Slave-trade has attracted much publick attention in Europe within the last few Years; and in a Congress at Vienna, on the 8th February, 1815, 5 [8] of the principal Powers made a solemn Engagement, in the face of mankind, that this traffick should be made to cease; in pursuance of which, these Powers have enacted municipal Laws to suppress the Trade. Spain, [although not a Party to the original Engagement,] did soon after, in her Treaty with England, stipulate for the immediate Abolition of the Spanish Slave-trade to the North of the Equator, and for its final and universal Abolition on the 30th of May, 1820. Portugal likewise, in her Treaty in 1817, stipulated, that the Portuguese Slave-trade on the Coast of Africa should entirely cease to the Northward of the Equator; and engaged that it should be unlawful for her Subjects to purchase or trade in Slaves, except to the Southward of the Line: the precise period at which the entire Abolition is to take place in Portugal does not appear to be finally fixed; but the Portuguese Ainbassador, in the presence of the Congress at Vienna, declared, that Portugal, faithful to her principles, would not refuse to adopt the term of 8 Years; which term will expire in the Year 1823.

At this time, among the European States, there is not a Flag which can legally cover this inhuman traffick to the North of the Line : nevertheless, experience has proved the inefficacy of the various and rigorous Laws which have been made in Europe and in this Country; it being a lamentable fact, that the disgraceful practice is even now carried on to a surprising extent. During the last Year, Captain Trenchard, the Commander of The United States Sloop of War, the Cyane, found that part of the Coast of Africa which he visited lined with Vessels, engaged, as it is presumed, in this forbidden traffick; of


these he examined many, and 5 which appeared to be fitted out on American account, he sent into the jurisdiction of The United States for adjudication ; each of them, it is believed, has been condemned, and the Commanders of 2 of them have been sentenced to the punishment prescribed by the Laws of The United States.

The testimony recently published, with the opinion of the presiding Judge of The United States Court of the Southern District in the State of New York, in the Case of the Schooner Plattsburg, lays open a scene of the grossest fraud that could be practised to deceive the Officers of Government, and conceal the unlawful transaction.

The extension of the Trade for the last 25 or 30 Years must, in a degree, be conjectural; but the best information that can be obtained on the subject, furnishes good foundation to believe, that during that period the number of Slaves withdrawn from Western Africa amounts to upwards of 1,500,000: the annual average would be a mean somewhere between 50, and 80,000.

The Trade appears to be lucrative in proportion to its heinousness; and, as it is generally inhibited, the unfeeling Slave-dealers, in order to elude the Laws, increase its horrors: the innocent Africans, who are mercilessly forced from their native homes in irons, are crowded in Vessels and situations which are not adapted for the transportation of human Beings; and this cruelty is frequently succeeded, during the Voyage of their destination, with dreadful mortality. Further information on this subject will appear in a Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, inclosing two other Letters, marked 1 and 2, and also by the extract of a Letter from an Officer of the Cyane, dated 10th April, 1820, which are annexed to this Report. While the Slave-trade exists, there can be no prospect of civilization in Africa.

However weli disposed the European Powers may be to effect a practical Abolition of the Trade, it seems generally acknowledged, that, for the attainment of this object, it is necessary to agree upon some concerted plan of co-operation ; but unhappily no arrangemen has as yet obtained universal consent.

England has recently engaged in Treaties with Spain, Portuga and The Netherlands, in which the mutual right of visitation an search is exchanged; this right is of a special and limited character as well in relation to the number and description of Vessels as to space and to avoid possible inconveniences no suspicious circumstances ar to warrant the deteution of a Vessel; this right is restricted to the simple fact of Slaves being on board.

These Treaties contemplate the establishment of Mixed Courts, formed of an equal number of Individuals of the two Contracting Nations, the one to reside in a Possession belonging to His Britannick Majesty, the other within the Territory of the other respective Power. When a Vessel is visited and detained it is to be taken to the nearest

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »