War of the Rebellion: Serial 125 Page 0327 UNION AUTHORITIES.

Search Civil War Official Records

cupidity so terrible a sway as to cause the reduction to 7,500,000 of men of a population which, had they been treated and had they thriven but as well as the slaves of the United States, would have numbered to-day 98,000,000 of souls.

Climate may have had something to do in working out the ultimate results. Yet there is no evidence to show that the climate of the West Indies and of Brazil is less suited or more fatal to the negro race than that of our slave States. A more influential circumstance, especially in the West India Islands, was the habitual absenteeism of many of the proprietors. The slaves were left at the mercy of oversees, often uncultivated and mercenary, who had no interest in their preservation so long as those who died could be profitably replaced by what were called "new negroes." Most of those oversees were unmarried men; and writers on the condition of the colonies frequently allude to the fact that, when this was the case, the lack of female care and considerate forethought, as regarded the slave mothers and children, had a very considerable influence in dimishing the population.

Upon the whole, however, it must be confessed that while the general facts in this case are indisputable the explanations we have been able to offer seem inadequate to account for the extraordinary results we have disclosed.

But the lesson taught to mankind by this stupendous crime is far beyond the marvel of its results. Four years ago that lesson was in part foreshadowed only and could not have been fully read. To- day it is written in terrible characters all over the history of our country. Four years ago it might have been said, with a certain plausibility, that the experiment of human slavery had two phases-the phase of failure and the phase of success.

With a certain plausibility only, it is true there has been success in this country, so far as the mere physical increase of the slave population can attest the fact-no further. But population has increased in the world in spite of ceaseless wars- in spite for constant vice and misery. It increased in famine- stricken Ireland. It increased in England throughout the term of that feudal system which made of the island one great military camp. It increased in France throughout the centuries of that old regime, of which the insufferable iniquities were at last requited by popular vengeance, and culminated in the first Revolution. It is to be admitted, however, that an annual increase from natural causes alone of 2 3/4 to 3 per cent., prevailing throughout a term of years in any population (as among the slaves of the United States from 1810 to 1830), indicates that they have not been subjected to the extremity of hardship which marks the fate of negro slaves in other provisions of this hemisphere. And as, even to the present day, the rate of natural increase among slaves in this country has been considerable, it may be fairly inferred that slavery in the United States, even in its latter and severer phase, has been, as a general rule, more merciful and lenient than in the West Indies and South America. It will probably be claimed, in addition, that it indicates a very considerable amount of physical comfort and well-being. But any such admission would convey a false impression in regard to the actual condition of the slave, especially in the cotton and sugar States. The investigations of the Commission, personal and from testimony, thoroughly convince them that the statements made in their preliminary report as to the condition of the slave population of South Carolina, apply substantially to that of Georgia, Alabama,