War of the Rebellion: Serial 125 Page 0319 UNION AUTHORITIES.

Search Civil War Official Records

When we consider the tendency to natural increase in human beings which has gradually swelled the population of the world to its 800,000,000 or 1,000,000,000, the above statement as it now stands must be confessed to embody a terrible condemnation of that system which, as to a population half as large as that of the United States, not only arrested for eight or ten generations of men the operations of one of the great laws of the world, but without the life-destruction of war, a without the deadly agencies of pestilence or famine, not, as we sometimes express it, by the visitation of God, but by the sole operation of man's crime, and the misery thence resulting, produced a retrogression of numbers at a ratio which, had it spread over the habitable earth, would have extinguished in a few centuries all human existence. But the matter has been very imperfectly presented yet. The actual results were far more fatal than the simple statement we have given serves to indicate. To obtain an accurate and intelligible view of these results we must separate the 15,500,000 of expatriated Africans into two portions, and trace out the separate destiny of each.

More than a third of the present representatives of these 15,500,000 inhabit, it will be observed, the United States; less than two-thirds are scattered over the West Indies, Central and South America. But what proportion, let us inquire, of the negroes shipped in slavers from Africa were the progenitors of the present colored population of the United States, and what proportion when to the West Indies and to Southern America?

Here, as in our previous calculation, though the materials be insufficient for absolute accuracy, we can approximate the truth.

In the report of the Lords of Council, so often already referred to, there is but one table bearing on the subject. b It exhibits the exportation of negroes from the West Indies (then the principal place of their deposit and sale) for five years, namely, from 1783 to 1787, both inclusive, showing that in these five years, out of 20,773 negroes exported to all parts, 1,392 went to the 'States of America;" that is, only about one- fifteenth of the whole, or 278, annually.

Since so small a proportion out of the whole export was directed to the United States, it is evident that the demand for slaves at that time could not have been great; nor do we find throughout the report any allusion to a direct trade by slavers from the African coast to the continental colonies. Of course it existed, but evidently not to a large extent. The public opinion, as well as the legislation, of the colonies had uniformly been against it. c


a There was, indeed, the war in Hayti, which terminated in 1804 in independence. But the loss of life consequent thereon has been far more than made up by the natural increase of the population of Hayti since it became free. Humboldt calculated the population in 1802 at 350,000; and after the death of Dessalines, the first Emperor, it was rated at 400,000. (Notes on Hayti, heretofore cited, Vol.2, p.110.) It has since nearly doubled.

b Lords of Council Report, Part IV, Table No. 4.

c The agency of the British Government in fastening slavery upon the continental colonies is well known. Bancroft has placed it distinctly on record:

"The inhabitants of Virginia were controlled by the central authority on a subject of vital importance to themselves and their posterity. Their halls of legislation had resounded with eloquence directed against the terrible plague of negro slavery. Again and again they had passed laws restraining the importation of negroes from Africa; but their laws were disallowed. How to prevent them from protecting themselves against the increase of the overwhelming evil was debated by the King in council, and, on the 10th day of December, 1770, he issued an instruction, under his own hand, commanding the Governor, `under pain of the highest displeasure, to assent to no law by which the importation of slaves should be, in any respect, prohibited or obstructed." In April, 1772, this rigorous order