TOPICS OF THE DAY.
THE ANTI-SLAVERY THAT MIGHT SUCCEED. FREE trade in sugar must at first act as an encouragement of the
slave-trade—there is no doubt of it. The opening of so important a market as that of Great Britain will enhance the value of slave- grown sugar ; the higher value of the article will enhance the value of the producers ; and that will enhance the profits of the slave-trade. Our armed efforts at suppressing the trade, there- fore, will be rendered more ridiculous than ever, by the crowning inconsistency, that we shall do our best to intercept the slave on his way from Africa to America, and to disappoint his owner, but as soon as he has crossed, we shall not only leave his owner in peace but give him our custom for the commerce in which he uses the slave.
But the bad results would not rest there. Continued enforce- ment of the armed suppression would tend still further to aggra- vate the horrors of the middle passage. The increased profits of the trade would of course multiply the vessels engaged in it ; the traders would also be more than ever stimulated to brave risk of detection in hope of profit, while the higher profit would allow a wider margin for loss by capture : vessels, therefore, would be more readily and more often captured. But the incentives to evade detection would be stronger than ever ; swiftness and secrecy would be still more sought, and the miserable freight still more cruelly sacrificed to a water-cutting shape of the vessel and to concealment. It will be impossible to continue the armed sup- pression much longer, in the teeth of growing opinion and aug- menting proof of its inefficacy—its mischievous self-defeat. It will be abandoned.
Must the slave-trade, then, be left to its criminal career—to
people America with a race in bondage? We think not. We believe that the ceasing of the armed intervention will be the first step towards an effectual but peaceful war with agrarian slavery and the slave-trade. How may this come about ?
The immediate result of the cessation will be, that England will
no longer be regarded with distrust by foreign countries whom she coerces to obey her notion of moral necessity. England has a conscience against trading in slaves, and she not only abstains, but forces other nations to abstain. Some do not, but merely af- fect to do so ;_ and while they pretend to obey, they own an in- creasing grudge against the country that compels them to so humiliating, inconvenient, and costly a sacrifice. They do not understand her motives to be purely philanthropic, because they are not conscious of such motives in themselves : they believe her to be actuated by an invidious dog-in-the-manger wish to hinder their prosperity, and at all events hate her pragmatical tyranny.
to England is the great substantial product of her armed intervention; a feeling shared by America, Brazil, Spain, and other great nations. The feeling will die away when the coercion ceases.
The slave-employing countries may resort to Africa to fulfil all the demands upon their labour-markets. It is not likely that the Southern States of the great American Union would do so, since social and political reasons make the citizens of the Union view the increase of slaves with alarm ; but Cuba, and possibly Brazil, might take a larger draft of slave-immigrants. The traffic, how- ever, would be free; the slaves would be more valuable' and the trader would have no motive to treat them worse than cattle would be treated : their health, therefore, would be an object of care, and the horrors of the middle passage would cease with our intervention.
But if we abstained from restricting the slave migration, there
would be no reason for restricting the migration of free Blacks. To British subjects we might forbid slave-trading ; by proper re- gulations in the West Indies, we might prevent any British slave- trading by defeating its object, the individual profit of the trader. But the free migration would bring to the West Indies their most useful population, the Negro. With a free labour-market, where wages have superseded the lash as an incentive to industry, it is most imperatively necessary to have an abundance of labourers : that abundance the West Indies would soon have, and they would then be able to compete with slave-owning countries in the growth of sugar.
But to people the West Indies is the one great essential to any
probable scheme for civilizing the Negro. The West Indies will for the first time be able to set a complete practical example of free Black labour ; of which we have preached the merit, though we have shrunk from exemplifying it. The White civilizer cannot penetrate the pestilential continent of Africa, to civilize the deni- zens of the soil ; but in the West Indies he has the African en- tirely under his own eye, and in the best possible circumstances for the process of civilization. The Negro is at once introduced to a fully-civilized society, but one blessed by the too rare concomi- tant that industry prospers in it. He is easily kept in the state of discipline, legal and moral, the most conducive to his own welfare. But he is in all respects a free man, and is at once in- troduced, to the practice of free institutions ; even attaining the franchise, municipal and political, without hinderance. And ex- perience has proved that in the West Indies the Negro actually does become a civilized man, with extraordinary facility and rapidity. Show, for the first time completely, that in the West Indies emancipation really succeeds in a worldly sense—that it is politi- cally safe,. stud commercially profitable—and you teach the best possible lesson to slave-owning countries; one far more persuasive than coercion. You show them that they may abandon slavery itself, and that therefore they do not need the trade in slaves. Some have already shown a disposition to profit by such a lesson, were it humanely and perseveringly read to them. Brazil has several public men willing and able to read it ; Cuba has had its Governor Valdez ; and even the Southern States of the Union might consent to benefit by an experimental attempt at solving the great problem that darkens their future. But Africa—how would such a change affect her ? Most momentously. Were the Eastern shore of America fully peopled. with a free Black race—were even the West Indies alone so peopled—commercial relations must necessarily increase with the opposite coast of Western Africa. It must inevitably follow, that free Blacks would be much and increasingly employed in any commercial relations with Western Africa ; for which their race alone is suited by physical constitution. The number of free civilized Blacks in Africa would multiply. To state this modest fact alone, is to imply a social revolution in Africa : monarchs in that benighted country could not long remain in a condition lower than menials in the free settlements. If the monarchs did not begin to advance in civilization, the menials would soon speculate in the trade of being monarchs. But free settlements would multiply, and would be normal schools for the neighbour- ing races. Civilization—a true European civilization— once established on the continent of Africa, would soon spread by a beneficent contagion. It is to be remembered that there are no such settlements in Western Africa : there are some trading sta- tions; Sierra Leone is a station for liberated Africans, ill managed, unprosperous ; Liberia is a settlement of transported slaves; but there are no proper colonies. There have been no such settlements, because there have been no materials for them—a surplus free Black population to be spared from the American side of the Atlantic. There has, how- ever, already been shown the disposition to such a reemigration : the Black emigrants from our principal West Indian Colonies have willingly returned as " delegates " ; gentlemen of the Black race have even consented to go, in order to promote an inter- course so beneficial to their kind ; and an official agent at Sierra Leone belonged to the race. These are solitary instances, but they serve to show that the desired motive and capacity both exist in the African ; both have been exhibited under the influence of a free Black emigration to the West Indies, limited as that was. Were the West Indies fully peopled, our stations on the coast of Western Africa would become really colonies : although the climate excludes the Anglo-Saxon race, Anglo-Saxon in- fluences would take root, would fructify, and would spread towards the interior.
Such is the way in which Africa might be civilized through the West Indies ; such is the Anti-Slavery enterprise that might succeed.