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could not much impair our finances. But the eyes of other people are the eyes that ruin us. If all but myself were blind, I should want neither fine clothes, fine houses, nor fine furniture,
ON THE SLAVE TRADE.
READING in the newspapers the speech of Mr. Jackson in congress against meddling with the affair of slavery, or attempting to mend the condition of slaves, it put me in mind of a similar speech, made about one hundred years since, by Sidi Mahomet Ibrahim, a member of the divan of Algiers, which may be seen in Martin's account of his consulship, 1687. It was against granting the petition of the sect called Erika, or Purists, who prayed for the abolition of piracy and slavery, as being unjust. Mr. Jackson does not quote it: perhaps he has not seen it. If, therefore, some of its reasonings are to be found in his eloquent speech it may not only show that men's interests operate, and are operated on, with surprising similarity, in all countries and climates, whenever they are under similar circumstan
The African speech, as translated, is as follows: “Alia Bismillah, &c. God is great, and Mahomet is his prophet.
Have these Erika considered the consequences of granting their petition? If we cease our cruises against the Christians, how shall we be surnished with the commodities their countries produce, and which are so necessary for us? If we forbear to make slaves of their people, who, in this hot climate, are to cultivate our lands?
Who are to perform the common labors of our city, and of our families ? Must we not then be our own slaves? And is there not more compassion and more favor due to us Musselmen than. to those Christian dogs? We have now above fifty thousand slaves in and near Algiers. This number, if not kept up by fresh supplies, will soon diminish, and be gradually annihilated. If, then, we cease taking and plundering the infidels' ships, and making slaves of the seamen and passen
gers, our lands will become of no value, for want of cultivation; the rents of houses in the city will sink one half; and the revenues of government, arising from the shares of prizes, must be totally destroyed. And for what? To gratify the whim of a whimsical sect, who would have us not only forbear making more slaves, but even manumit those we have. But who is to indemnify their masters for the loss! Will the state do it? Is our treasury sufficient? Will the Erika do it? Can they do it? Or would they, to do what they think justice to the slaves, do a greater injustice to the owners? And if we set our slaves free, what is to be done with them? Few of them will return to their native countries; they know too well the greater hardships they must there be subject to. They will not embrace our holy religion: they will not adopt our manners: our people will not pollute themselves by intermarrying with them.Must we maintain them as beggars in our streets; or suffer our properties to be the prey of their pillage ? for men accustomed to slavery will not work for a livelihood when not compelled. And what is there so pitiable in their present condition? Were they not slaves in their own countries? Are not Spain, Portugal, France, and the Italian states, governed by despots, who hold all their subjects in slavery, without exception? Even England treats her sailors as slaves; for they are, whenever the government pleases, seized and confined in ships of war, condemned not only to work, but to fight for small wages, or a mere subsistence, not better than our slaves are allowed by us. Is their condition then made worse by their falling into our hands? No: they have only exchanged one slavery for another; and I may say a better: for here they are brought into a land where the sun of Islamism gives forth its light, and shines in full splendor, and they have an opportunity of making themselves acquainted with the true doctrine, and thereby save their immortal souls. Those who remain at home have not that nappiness. Sending the slaves home, then, would be sending them out of light into darkness.
“I repeat the question, what is to be done with them? I have heard it suggested, that they may be planted in the wilderness, where there is plenty of land for them to subsist on, and where they may flourish as a free state.
But they are, I doubt, too little disposed to labor without compul
sion, as well as too ignorant to establish good government; and the wild Arabs would soon molest and destroy, or again enslave them. While serving us, we take care to provide them with every thing; and they are treated with humanity. The laborers in their own countries are, as I am informed, worse fed, lodged and clothed. The condition of most of them is therefore already mended, and requires no farther improvement. Here their lives are in safety. They are not liable to be impressed for soldiers, and forced to cut one another's Christian throats, as in the wars of their own countries. If some of the religious mad bigots, who now teaze us with their silly petitions, have, in a fit of blind zeal, freed their slaves, it was not generosity, it was not humanity, that moved them to the action; it was from the conscious burden of a load of sins, and hope, from the supposed merits of so good a work, to be excused from damnation. How grossly are they mistaken, in imagining slavery to be disavowed by the Koran! Are not the two precepts, to quote no more, Masters, treat your slaves with kindness—Slaves, serve your masters with cheerfulness and fidelity,' clear proofs to the contrary?Nor can the plundering of infidels be in that sacred book forbidden; since it is well known from it, that God has given the world, and all that it contains, to his faithful Musselmen, who are to enjoy it, of right, as fast as they conquer it. Let us then hear no more of this detestable proposition, the manumission of Christian slaves, the adoption of which would, by depreciating our lands and houses, and thereby depriving so many good citizens of their properties, create universal discontent, and provoke insurrections, to the endangering of government, and producing general confusion. I have, therefore, no doubt, that this wise council will prefer the comfort and happiness of a whole nation of true believers, to the whim of a few Erika, and dismiss their petition.”
The result was, as Martin tells us, that the divan came to this resolution : “That the doctrine, that the plundering and enslaving the Christians is unjust, is at best problematical; but that it is the interest of this state to continue the practice, is clear; therefore, let the petition be rejected." And it was rejected accordingly. And since like motives are apt to produce, in the minds
of men, like opinions and resolutions, may we not venture to predict, from this account, that the petitions to the parliament of England for abolishing the slave trade, to say nothing of other legislatures, and the debates upon them, will have a similar conclusion.
HISTORICUS. March 23, 1790.
OBSERVATIONS ON WAR.
By the original laws of nations, war and extirpation were the punishment of injury. Humanizing by degrees, it admitted slavery instead of death: a farther step was, the exchange of prisoners instead of slavery: another, to respect more the property of private persons under conquest, and be content with acquired dominion. Why should not this law of nations go on improving? Ages have intervened between its several steps; but as knowledge of late increases rapidly, why should not those steps be quickened? Why should it not be agreed to, as the future law of nations, that in any war hereafter, the following descriptions of men should be undisturbed, have the protection of both sides, and be permitted to follow their employments in security, viz:
1. Cultivators of the earth, because they labor for the subsistence of niankind.
2. Fishermen, for the same reason.
3. Merchants and traders in unarmed ships, who accommodate different nations by communicating and exchanging the necessaries and conveniences of life.
4. Artists and mechanics, inhabiting and working in open towns,
It is hardly necessary to add, that the hospitals of eneinies should be unmolested--they ought to be assisted. It is for the interest of humanity in general, that the occasions of war, and the inducements to it, should be diminished. If rapine be abolished, one of the encouragements to war is taken away; and peace therefore more likely to continue and be lasting.
The practice of robbing merchants on the high seasca remnant of the ancient piracy—though it may be accidentally beneficial to particular persons, is får from being profitable to all engaged in it, or to the nation that authorizes it. In the beginning of a war some rich ships are surprised and taken. This encourages the first adventurers to fit out more armed vessels; and many others to do the same. But the enemy at the same time become more careful, arm their merchant ships better, and render them not so easy to be taken: they go also more under the protection of convoys." Thus, while the privateers to take them are multiplied, the vessels subjected to be taken, and the chances of profit, are diminished; so that many cruises are made wherein the expenses overgo the gains; and, as is the case in other lotteries, though particulars have got prizes, the mass of adventurers are losers, the whole expense of fitting out all the privateers during a war being much greater than the whole amount of goods taken.
Then there is the national loss of all the labor of so many men during the time they have been employed in robbing; who besides spend what they get in riot, drunkenness, and debauchery ; lose their habits of industry; are rarely fit for any sober business after a peace, and serve only to increase the number of highwayınen and housebreakers. Even the uudertakers, who have been fortunate, are by sudden wealth led into expensive living, the habit of which continues when the means of supporting it cease, and finally ruins them: a just punishment for their having wantonly and unfeelingly ruined many honest innocent traders and their families, whose substance was employed in serving the common iuterest of mankind,
ON THE IMPRESS OF SEAMEN., Notes copied from Dr. Franklin's Writing in Pencil in the
Margin of Judge Foster's celebrated argument in Favor of the Impressing of Seamen (published in the folio Edition of his works.)
JUDGE FOSTER, p. 158, “Every man.”—The conclusion here, from the whole to a part, does not seem to be good