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INTRODUCTION.

MR. WILBERFORCE-MR. GRANVILLE SHARP

MR. CLARKSON.

The history of the Slave Trade is too fresh in the recollections of men, to require any full details in this place. As soon as South America began to be explored by the Spaniards and Portuguese, it was found that the speculations of their insatiable avarice, which the plunder and torture of the natives had only for the moment appeased, could not be permanently carried on without a supply of hands to work the mines, and to cultivate in the islands, the rich produce of tropical climates. The Indians, a feeble race, unused to toil, were soon exceedingly reduced in numbers ; and the practice was instituted of bringing over Negroes from the coast of Africa. The shortness of the distance between that continent and the Brazils first suggested this traffic to the Portuguese, who had settlements on the African coast; but it was not followed to any great extent, or in a regular manner. The speculators of New Spain, however, soon felt the want of hands to work their mines and cultivate their lands; and Bartolomeo de las Casas, a friar of the Dominican order, who had charitably devoted his life to the protection of the unhappy Indians, treated like cattle, only that they were more inhumanly used by their cruel and profligate taskmasters, now joined in the scheme, if he did not first suggest it, of supplying their place with African Negroes. He never reflected, says the historian, “upon the iniquity of reducing one race of men to slavery, while consulting about the means of granting liberty to another; but, with the inconsistency natural to men who hurry with headlong impetuosity towards a favourite point, in the warmth of his zeal to save the Americans from the yoke, pronounced it lawful and expedient to impose one much heavier upon the Africans.”* Charles V. granted a patent for introducing four thousand Negroes yearly into Spanish America, and thus was begun that horrible traffic which immediately began to ravage Africa, and ended in exposing the American continent to the utmost peril, while it brought eternal disgrace upon the Christian profession and the European name.

After this scourge had been suffered to desolate Africa, and to disgrace mankind for two centuries and a half, the attention of men was at length directed to it by some eminent philanthropists of this country. Among these, a high place must be assigned to Granville Sharp, than whom a purer spirit never resided in

* Robertson's America.

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