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said to end of 1780m the island in Two hunder previous to i
Governor Seton remarked, that there were a considerable number of free Negroes in St. Vincent, but the number could not be ascertained with any exactness.
General export of the four staple articles of produce of the British sugar colonies, from return to order of House of Commons, May the 5th, 1806, for 1787: –
154,066 hhds. of sugar,
33,990 cwt. o coffee, and
9,430,515 pounds of cotton. Jamaica, St. Vincent's, Grenada, and Dominica were the only islands in which coffee was cultivated; and more than one-half of the produce of them all came from Dominica.
From the capture of Jamaica, to December, 1787, 676,276 Negroes were imported into that island, of whom 31,181 are said to have died on board ship, after their entry, previous to their being distributed among the planters. Two hundred and forty thousand Negroes were upon the island in December, 1787. Between the latter end of 1780 and the beginning of 1787, 15,000 Negroes are said to have died from famine, or of diseases contracted by scanty and unwholesome diet. The inhabitants blame the interdicting foreign supplies - as though, in one of the most fertile countries in the world, an agricultural population could not feed themselves, if allowed so to do.
In January, the first Methodist missionary was established at Basse Terre, St. Christopher's: his name was Hammet.
Barbadoes, to 1787, returned, on yearly average, of sugar crops, 12,211 hhds.
Antigua produced and exported 19,500 hhds. of sugar this year; and Grenada produced 13,500 hhds. of sugar.
Dominica produced 18,149 cwt. of coffee.
The produce of the French colony in St. Domingo freighted, for Europe alone, 470 ships, which contained 112,253 tons, and employed in their navigation 11,220 seamen.
From the report made to the privy council in 1788, it appears, that in 1787, the British West India trade employed 575 ships, carrying 132,025 tons of produce.
And from the returns made by the custom-house to the House of Commons, it appears that Great Britain imported 1,926,791 cwt. of sugar, from which she derived a revenue of £988,513, exclusive of the monies paid for drawback upon the sugars re-exported.
Sir W. Young's Common-place Book, pp. 18, 19, 20, 21. 29, 30. 32, 33. 36. 56. 74.
Coke's West Indies, vol. iii. pp. 56. 398.
The mode of death in capital cases has by several acts — that of the Virgin Islands, 1783, sect. l; acts of Jamaica, 1744, sect. 4 been referred to the discretion of the court; but in other islands, where no such acts existed, a practice prevailed, of inflicting, under the authority of an order from the governor and council, what is there called an “exemplary death.”
The most common modes of such executions have been, roasting the convicts alive, or hanging them in irons upon a gibbet, to perish by hunger and thirst.
In several islands, and especially in Barbadoes, no acts appear, from the parliamentary papers (1823), to have been yet passed, prohibiting such practices. The King's prerogative is a fountain of mercy, and not of torture; and the West India governors, to whom it is delegated, should have no power to order or permit these “ exemplary deaths,” or aggravate the severity of the law against any criminal.
In consequence of repeated failures in their sugar-crops, the planters of St. Christopher made, for the first time, an unsuccessful trial of cotton; and immediately all slaves were prohibited by law to plant that article, to sell it, or to have it in their possession.
It is a common practice in the islands to prevent the raising and owning certain articles of agricultural produce, lest a dishonest traffic might be carried on by the slaves. A cruel law! The indigent majority are violently deprived of the benefit of their little possessions, lest the opulent few should want any possible security against theft! The general maxim is, that whatever articles the planters may raise for profit, slaves shall not be suffered, in the same island, to raise or possess at all.
In Barbadoes, ginger and cotton are considered staple productions; and there the growers having, as the act recites, found it inconvenient that slaves should be at liberty to plant those articles, it declares, that should, thereafter, any be found in the possession of a slave, they shall be deemed stolen goods.
In Jamaica, breeding horses and mules is a source of profit to the planters : here, therefore, the slaves are forbidden to own any; and heavy penalties were imposed on any planter disposed to encourage the industry of any head slave upon his “ pen,” by permitting him to acquire such property.
A like prohibition exists in the Virgin Islands as to cattle, and from a like cause.
In St. Vincent's, the restriction comprises cocoa and coffee, as well as cotton and ginger; and to possess them subjects a slave to the same punishment as the receiving stolen goods.
In Bermuda, where vegetable provisions and small live stock are staple articles, the slaves are absolutely interdicted from raising any species of either for their own use, even though they should have their master's permission.
And in the Bahama islands, where there is abundance of vacant lands, the slaves were, by sect. 11. act of 1784, prohibited from raising the articles of food necessary for subsistence; and the plantations they had made were cruelly to be destroyed.
The meliorating act of Dominica, passed this year, enacts, “That if any white or free person shall be convicted of maiming, defacing, or mutilating, or cruelly torturing, any slave, he shall be imprisoned for a term not exceeding three months, or fined in any sum not exceeding £100, current money of this island (£57 2.10 d. sterling).”
The reader will wonder at the confidence of those who attempted to pass upon the privy council and parliament the following piece of mummery, when they are told that the witnesses examined on the part of this island (Dominica) stated that there were no legal marriages among the slaves :
Có And in order to protect the domestic and connubial happiness of slaves, be it, and it is hereby further enacted and ordained, by the authority aforesaid, that any white person or free person of colour whatever, who shall take away and cohabit with the wife or wives of any slave or slaves in this island, shall, on conviction thereof before any three or more magistrates, be subject to a fine not exceeding the sum of £50, to be recovered and appropriated in manner and form as is directed by the first clause of this act;" — i.e. to be paid into the treasury, for the public uses of the island.
But this enactment has been omitted in the existing acts of those islands.
In Jamaica, it was enacted, this year, “ that if any slave shall offer any violence, by striking or otherwise, to any white person, such slave, upon due and proper proof, shall, upon conviction, be punished with death, or confinement to hard labour for life, or otherwise, as the court in their discretion shall think proper to inflict; provided such striking or conflict be not by command of his or their owners, overseers, or persons intrusted over them, or in the lawful defence of their owners' persons or goods."
Sir William Blackstone says, “ the future process of law is by no means an adequate remedy for injuries accompanied with force, since it is impossible to say to what wanton length of rapine or cruelty outrages of this sort might be carried, unless it were permitted a man immediately to oppose one violence with another. Self
Stephen on West Indian Slavery, pp. 19. 159. 187, 188.
defence, therefore, as it is justly called the primary law of nature, so it is not, neither can it be, in fact, taken away by the law of society. The colonial assemblies have not scrupled to abrogate this “ primary law of nature,” self-defence is a capital crime in a slave — and murder, a fifteen-pound penalty in his oppressor !
. By the same act, any slave, who should run away and be absent for six months, was to be confined to hard labour for such time as the court should determine, or to be transported for life; and if the runaway had been two years upon the island, he was to suffer such punishment as the justices should think proper to inflict. By their former acts this punishment was death. By this, the power of inflicting it is retained, without the odium of enacting it.
In Grenada, an act was passed, November 3d, which directs, that slaves are not to be compelled (except in carrying on such manufactures as require night or extra labour) to work until day-break, nor at their times of breakfast or dining, nor after sun-set, except in carrying one bundle of grass from the field to the stable. They are to have half an hour for breakfast, and from twelve till two for dinner. They are to be instructed by a clergyman in religion.'
There is a penalty of £165 currency, on any proprietor who shall debauch a married slave. An attorney or employed person so doing is to forfeit half his salary. Slaves so doing to suffer corporal punishment, not extending to life or limb. Three persons, being freeholders and possessors of thirty slaves, are by the justices to be nominated “ guardians of the slaves,” who are to take an oath to
Stephen on West Indian Slavery, p. 288.
i Cowper says, “ Laws will, I suppose, be enacted for the more humane treatment of the Negroes; but who shall see to the execution of them ? the planters will not, and the Negroes cannot. In fact we know, that laws of this tendency have not been wanting, enacted even amongst themselves; but there has been always a want of prosecutors, or righteous judges — deficiencies which will not be very easily supplied.” Cowper has overlooked the greatest want, the one which indignant prosecutors or upright judges cannot supply, and which can only be remedied by enabling slaves to give evidence. « On the whole, I fear (he says) there is reason to wish, for the honour of England, that the nuisance had never been troubled ; lest we eventually make ourselves justly chargeable with the whole offence by not removing it. The enormity cannot be palliated; we can no longer plead that we were no: aware of it, or that our attention was otherwise engaged; and shall be inexcusable, there. fore, ourselves, if we leave the least part of
raoh might have used to justify his destruction of the Israelites, substituting only sugar for bricks, may lie ready for our use also; but I think we can find no better."- Cowper's Correspondence.
“ The resolution of the House of Commons in 1823, declares that the great object of emancipation must be accomplished at the earliest period which shall be compatible with the well-being of the slaves themselves, with the safety of the colonies, and with a fair and equitable consideration for the interests of private property.' But (Lord Bathurst says) the court of policy must recollect, that if, on one hand, parliament and his Majesty's government stand pledged to give the planters all equitable compensation, they stand equally pledged to take such measures as may ultimately, though gradually, work out the freedom of slaves. The court of policy may be assured, that from the final accomplishment of this object this country will not be diverted.” - Lord Bathurst's Letter, 25th Feb. 1826.
Ted into the li rat Jamaica che churche
see the act duly executed : and managers and overseers are to answer them upon oath.
The number of Negroes in Barbadoes, returned on oath by Mr. Agent Brathwaite, was 64,405.
Twenty-nine thousand five hundred and six Negroes were imported into the French part of St. Domingo this year.
The Assembly at Jamaica passed a law to prohibit the burial of the dead within the walls of the churches; and as this regulation injured the rector's perquisites, an augmentation of £50 per ann. was made to most of the livings.
A bill was brought into parliament, for regulating the number of slaves to be put on board each vessel carrying them from Africa. The Liverpool merchants petitioned against the bill, and counsel for the petitioners appeared at the bar, and examined witnesses to prove that the hardships alleged did not exist.
The act directs, that in every ship where the space between the two decks shall not be less than five feet in height, and where the cabin shall be fitted for the accommodation of the Negroes, in the proportion of five persons for three tons, if the ship's burthen does not exceed one hundred and sixty tons, and of three persons for two tons, if the burthen of the ship does exceed one hundred and fifty tons, and in every ship where the space between the two decks shall be less than five feet, or where the cabin shall not be fitted for the accommodation of the Negroes, in the proportion of one person for every ton burthen of the ship or vessel on board which such natives shall be so conveyed, under the penalty of £20 for every native exceeding the number allowed
– half the forfeiture to go to the King, and half to the prosecutor. Valuation of British property vested in the British sugar colonies
Report of the Privy Council, 1788:
Patented Estates, as taxed per acre. Negroes.
8,000 Montserrat - 38,400
9,500 Virgin Islands 25,000
9,000 Dominica - - - - 100,000
22,083 St. Vincent's
15,000 Grenada - - - - 89,000 - - - 20,000 Trinidad
19,709 Tobago - - - - 28,000 - - - 14,883
Report of the Lords of the Committee, 1798, Supplement to No. 15. Edwards, vol. i. p. 265. ; vol. iii. p. 220. : Annual Register, 1788, p. 136. 300.
Sir W. Young's Common place Book, p. 24.