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ENGLISH, SCOTCH, AND IRISH, SOLD AS SERVANTS.
feit to the colony forty pounds."1 Now, forty pounds chap was nearly twice the value of a negro slave. The law was not enforced; but the principle lived among the people.
Conditional servitude, under indentures or covenants, had from the first existed in Virginia. The servant stood to his master in the relation of a debtor, bound to discharge the costs of emigration by the entire employment of his powers for the benefit of his creditor. Oppression early ensued : men who had been transported into Virginia at an expense of eight or ten pounds, were sometimes sold for forty, fifty, or even threescore pounds. The supply of white servants became a regular business; and a class of men, nicknamed spirits, used to delude young persons, servants and idlers, into embarking for America, as to a land of spontaneous plenty. White servants came to be a usual article of traffic. They were sold in England to be transported, and in Virginia were resold to the highest bidder; like negroes, they were to be purchased on shipboard, as men buy horses at a fair. In 1672, the average price in the colonies, where five years of service were due, was about ten pounds; while a negro was worth twenty or twenty-five pounds. So usual was this manner of dealing in Englishmen, that not the Scots only, who were taken in the field of Dunbar, were sent into involuntary servitude in New England, but the royalist prisoners of the battle of Wor cester ; 7 and the leaders in the insurrection of Penrud
i George Fox's Journal, An. 1671. 5 Blome's Jamaica, 84 and 16. The law of Rhode Island I copied 6 Cromwell and Cotton, in Hutchfrom the records in Providence. inson's Coll. 233—235. ? Smith, i. 105.
7 Suffolk County Records, i. 5 3 Bullock's Virginia, 1649, p. 14. and 6. The names of two hundred
4 Sad State of Virginia, 1657, p. 4, and seventy are recorded. The la5. Hammond's Leah and Rachel, 7. ding of the John and Sarah was
NEGRO SLAVERY IN VIRGINIA. CHAP. doc,' in spite of the remonstrance of Haselrig and
Henry Vane, were shipped to America. At the corresponding period, in Ireland, the crowded exportation of Irish Catholics was a frequent event, and was at tended by aggravations hardly inferior to the usual atrocities of the African slave-trade. In 1685, when nearly a thousand of the prisoners, condemned for participating in the insurrection of Monmouth, were sentenced to transportation, men of influence at court, with rival importunity, scrambled for the convicted insurgents as a merchantable commodity.3
The condition of apprenticed servants in Virginia differed from that of slaves chiefly in the duration of their bondage ; and the laws of the colony favored their early enfranchisement. But this state of labor easily adınitted the introduction of perpetual servitude. The commerce of Virginia had been at first monopolized by the company ; but as its management for the
benefit of the corporation led to frequent dissensions, 1620. it was in 1620 laid open to free competition. In the
month of August of that year, just fourteen months after the first representative assembly of Virginia, four months before the Plymouth colony landed in America, and less than a year before the concession of a written constitution, more than a century after the last vestiges of hereditary slavery had disappeared from English society and the English constitution, and six years after the commons of France had petitioned for the emancipation of every serf in every fief, a Dutch manof-war entered James River, and landed twenty
“ ironwork, household stuff, and 2 Lingard, xi. 131, 132. other provisions for planters and 3 Dalrymple. Mackintosh, Hist. Scotch prisoners." Recorded May of the Revolution of 1688. 14, 1652.
4 Hening, i. 257. í Burton's Diary, iv. 262. 271. 5 Stith, 171. Godwin's Commonwealth, iv. 172.
NEGRO SLAVERY IN VIRGINIA.
negroes for sale. This is, indeed, the sad epoch of CHAP the introduction of negro slavery in the English colonies; but the traffic would have been checked in its infancy, had its profits remained with the Dutch. Thirty years after this first importation of Africans, the increase had been so inconsiderable, that to one black, Virginia contained fifty whites ; 2 and, at a later period, after seventy years of its colonial existence, the number of its negro slaves was proportionably much less than in several of the free states at the time of the war of independence. It is the duty of faithful history to trace events, not only to their causes, but to their authors; and we shall hereafter inquire what influence was ultimately extended to counteract the voice of justice, the cry of humanity, and the remonstrances of colonial legislation. Had no other form of servitude been known in Virginia, than such as had been tolerated in Europe, every difficulty would have been promptly obviated by the benevolent spirit of colonial legislation. But a new problem in the history of man, was now to be solved. For the first time, the Æthiopian and Caucasian races were to meet together in nearly equal numbers beneath a temperate zone. Who could foretell the issue? The negro race, from the first, was regarded with disgust, and its union with the whites forbidden under ignominious penalties.3 For many years, the Dutch were principally concerned in the slave-trade in the market of Virginia ; the immediate demand for laborers may, in part, have blinded the eyes of the planters to the ultimate evils of slavery, 4
i Beverley's Virginia, 35. Stith, 3 Hening, i. 146. 182; Chalmers, 49; Burk, i. 211; 4 This may be inferred from a and Hening, i. 146, all rely on Beve paper on Virginia, in Thurloe, v. erley.
81, or Hazard, i. 601. 2 New Description of Virginia.
VOL. 1. 23
CHAP. though the laws of the colony, at a very early period, in discouraged its increase by a special tax upon female
slaves." 1621 If Wyatt, on his arrival in Virginia, found the evil
of negro slavery engrafted on the social system, he brought with him the memorable ordinance, on which the fabric of colonial liberty was to rest, and which was interpreted by his instructions in a manner favorable to the independent rights of the colonists. Justice was established on the basis of the laws of England, and an amnesty of ancient feuds proclaimed. As Puritanism had appeared in Virginia, 6 needless novelties” in the forms of worship were now prohibited. The order to search for minerals betrays the continuance of lingering hopes of finding gold; while the injunction to promote certain kinds of manufactures was ineffectual, because labor could otherwise be more
profitably employed. 1621. The business which occupied the first session under ; the written constitution, related chiefly to the encour
agement of domestic industry; and the culture of silk particularly engaged the attention of the assembly.3 But legislation, though it can favor industry, cannot create it. When soil, men, and circumstances, combine to render a manufacture desirable, legislation can protect the infancy of enterprise against the unequal competition with established skill. The culture of silk, long, earnestly, and frequently recommended to the attention of Virginia,“ is successfully pursued, only when a superfluity of labor exists in a redundant population. In America, the first wants of life left no
i Hening, ii. 84, Act liv. March, 194–196. Burk, v. i. p. 224-227. 1662. The statute implies, that the 3 Hening, i. 119. rule already existed.
4 Virgo Triumphans, 35. 2 Ibid. i. 114-118. Stith, p.
labor without a demand ; silk-worms could not be cared CHAP. for where every comfort of household existence required to be created. Still less was the successful culture of the vine possible. The company had repeatedly sent vine-dressers, who had been set to work under the terrors of martial law, and whose efforts were continued after the establishment of regular government. But the toil was in vain. The extensive cul ture of the vine, unless singularly favored by climate, succeeds only in a dense population; for a small vineyard requires the labor of many hands. It is a law of nature, that, in a new country under the temperate zone, corn and cattle will be raised, rather than silk or wine.
The first culture of cotton in the United States de- 1621 serves commemoration. This year the seeds were planted as an experiment; and their “ plentiful coming up” was, at that early day, a subject of interest in America and England.
Nor did the benevolence of the company neglect to establish places of education, and provide for the support of religious worship. The bishop of London collected and paid a thousand pounds towards a university; which, like the several churches of the colony, was liberally endowed with domains. Public and private charity were active ;3 but the lands were never occupied by productive laborers; and the system of obtaining a revenue through a permanent tenantry could meet with no success, for it was not in harmony with the condition of colonial society.
Between the Indians and the English there had 1622 been quarrels, but no wars. From the first landing
1 Thorp's letter of May 17, 1621, in a marginal note in Purchas, iv. 1789,
2 Stith, 162. 166. 172, 173.
Mem. of Religious Charitie, in State of Virginia, 1622, p. 51–54.