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upon Negro Slavery in the United States, composed at

in New Hampshire on the late Federal Thanksgiving Day," * which does not hesitate to brand Ameri. can slavery in terms of glowing reprobation.

“ There was a contribution upon this day," it says,

66 for the purpose of redeeming those Americans who are in slavery at Algiers, – an object worthy of a generous people. Their redemption, we hope, is not far distant. But should any person contribute money for this purpose, which he had cudgelled out of a negro slave, he would deserve less applause than an actor in the comedy of Las Casas. .

When will Americans show that they are what they affect to be thought, - friends to the cause of humanity at large, reverers of the rights of their fellow-creatures ? Hitherto we have been oppressors; nay, murderers ! for many a negro has died by the whip of his master, and many have lived when death would have been preferable. Surely the curse of God and the reproach of man is against us. than the seven plagues of Egypt will befall us. If Algiers shall be punished sevenfold, truly America seventy and sevenfold.”

To the excitement of this discussion we are indebted for the story of “The Algerine Captive;" a work to which, though now forgotten, belongs the honor of being among the earliest literary productions of our country reprinted in London, at a time when few American books were known abroad. It was published anonymously, but is known to have been written by Royall Tyler, afterwards Chief Justice of Vermont. In the form of a narrative of personal adventures, ex


* From the Eagle Office, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1795.

tending through two volumes, as a slave in Algiers, the author depicts the horrors of this condition. In this regard it is not unlike the story of " Archy Moore,” in our own day, displaying the horrors of American slavery. The author, while engaged as surgeon on board a ship in the African slave-trade is taken captive by the Algerines. After describing the reception of the poor negroes,


says: 6 I cannot reflect on this transaction yet, without shuddering. I have deplored my conduct with tears of anguish ; and I pray a merciful God, the Common Parent of the great family of the universe, who hath made of one flesh and one blood all nations of the earth, that the miseries, the insults, and cruel woundings I afterwards received, when a slave myself, may expiate for the inhumanity I was necessitated to exercise towards these my brethren of the human race. And when at length he is himself made captive by the Algerines, he records his meditations and resolves. " Grant me,” he says, from the depths of his own misfortune, once more to taste the freedom of my native country, and every moment of my life shall be dedicated to preaching against this detestable commerce. I will fly to our fellow-citizens in the Southern States; I will, on my knees, conjure them, in the name of humanity, to abolish a traffic which causes it to bleed in every pore. If they are deaf to the pleadings of nature, I will conjure them, for the sake of consistency, to cease to deprive their fellow-creatures of freedom, which their writers, their orators, representatives, senators, and even their consti

* Chap. xxx.

tutions of government, have declared to be the unalienable birthright of man." *

But this comparison was presented, not merely in the productions of literature, or in fugitive essays. It was distinctly set forth, on an important occasion, in the diplomacy of our country, by one of her most illustrious citizens Complaint had been made against England, for carrying away from New York certain negroes, in alleged violation of the treaty of 1783. In an elaborate paper discussing this matter, John Jay, at that time, under the Confederation, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, says, " Whether men can be so degraded as, under

any circumstances, to be with propriety denominated goods and chattels, and under that idea capable of becoming booty, is a question on which opinions are unfortunately various, even in countries professing Christianity and respect for the rights of mankind." He then proceeds, in words worthy of special remembrance at this time: “ If a war should take place between France and Algiers, and in the course of it France should invite the American slaves there to run away from their masters, and actually receive and protect them in their camp, what would Congress, and indeed the world, think and say of France, if, in making peace with Algiers, she should give up those American slaves to their former Algerine masters? Is there any difference between the two cases than this, viz. that the American slaves at Algiers are white people, whereas the African slaves at New York were BLACK people ? In introducing these sentiments, the Secretary remarks:

* Chap. xxxii.

“He is aware he is about to say unpopular things ; but higher motives than personal considerations press him to proceed.” * Words worthy of John Jay !

The same comparison was also presented by the Abolition Society of Pennsylvania, in an Address in 1787, to the Convention which framed the Federal Constitution. 6. Providence," it says,

seems to have ordained the sufferings of our American brethren, groaning in captivity at Algiers, to awaken us to a sentiment of the injustice and cruelty of which we are guilty towards the wretched Africans.”+ Shortly afterwards it was again brought forward by Dr. Franklin, in an ingenious apologue, marked by his peculiar humor, simplicity, logic, and humanity. As President of the same Abolition Society, which had already addressed the Convention, he signed a memorial to the earliest Congress under the Constitution, praying it “ to countenance the restoration of liberty to those unhappy men, who alone, in this land of freedom, are degraded into perpetual bondage ; and to step to the very verge of the power vested in them for discouraging every species of traffic in the persons of our fellow-men." In the debates which ensued on the presentation of this memorial, - memorable not only for its intrinsic importance as a guide to the country, but as the final public act of one of the chief founders of our national insti. tutions — several attempts were made to justify slavery and the slave-trade. The last and almost dying energies of Franklin were excited. In a remarkable document, written only twenty-four days before his death,

* Secret Journals of Congress, 1786, Vol. IV. pp. 274 – 280. † Brissot's Travels, Vol. I. Letter 22.

and published in the journals of the time, he gave a parody of a speech actually delivered in the American Congress, - transferring the scene to Algiers, and putting the American speech in the mouth of a corsair slave-dealer, in the Divan at that place, in opposition to a petition, from a sect called Purists, or Abolitionists, for the abolition of piracy and slavery. All the arguments adduced in favor of negro slavery are applied by the Algerine orator with equal force to justify the plunder and enslavement of whites.* With this protest against a great wrong, Franklin died.

Most certainly we shall be aided, at least in our appreciation of American slavery, when we know that it was likened by characters like Wesley, Jay and Franklin, to the abomination of slavery in Algiers. But whatever may have been the influence of this parallel on the condition of the black slaves, it did not check the rising sentiments of the people against White Slavery.


The country was now aroused. A general contribution was proposed for the emancipation of our breth

Their cause was pleaded in churches, and not forgotten at the festive board. At all public celebrations, the toasts, “ Happiness for all,” and “ Universal Liberty,” were proposed, not less in sympathy with the efforts for freedom in France, than with those for our own wretched white fellow-countrymen in bonds. at least one occasion,t they were distinctly remembered

* Sparks's Franklin, Vol. II. 517.

† At Portsmouth, N. H., at a public entertainment, April 3d, 1795, in honor of French successes. — Boston Independent Chroni. cle, Vol. XXVII. No. 1469.

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