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imagine the two cannot exist together?'- (A.) “ They cannot. It is impossible.
He is then asked if the Gallinas is well calculated to be a port for legitimate trade? and replies:--Certainly; and the absence of it there is “entirely” owing to the presence of the slave trade.' He also states that Sierra Leone was formerly one of the great nests of the slave trade, “it is now wholly • unknown there,' and the imports from England are worth about
Sicool. per annum. the imports from trade, 'it is now formerly
Sir C. Hotham (Q. 2032. Lords' Com.), observes, generally · speaking, if the slave trade was considerable at any particular place, it would be impossible that legitimate trade could flourish there.'
The Rev. J. Peyton (of Sierra Leone) is asked if legitimate trade and slave trade can co-exist. — His answer is, • They * cannot ; the slave trade will destroy the other.' He is asked again (2573.), —
Can there be security of property for legitimate trade, while the slave trade is thriving?'- (A.) ' If you withdraw the squadron, there is no protection whatever.'
(Q. 2614.) “In what way does the slave trade prevent the civilisation of Africa ?'-(A.) 'In the first place it prevents the establishment of all legitimate trade. 2nd. It hinders the progress of all missionary operations in Africa : and 3rd. the cultivation of the land by the native population.'
Captain Watson, R. N., an officer intimately acquainted with the west coast of Africa, states that the removal of the cruisers
would lead to a great and unlimited increase of the slave trade,' and that the coast would then swarm with the worst kind of
slave traders, and pirates; in fact, the whole coast would be 'given up to pillage.'
• Would the maintenance of the present lawful trade be compatible with such a state of things ?'- (A.) No; I do not think that legal trade could well exist with an unrestricted slave trade.
R. Dawson, Esq., an African merchant, informed the Committee that the natives are very apt indeed for commercial
pursuits,' and that the cultivation of cotton might be increased without limit; and that palm-oil, indigo, dye-woods, bees-wax, coffee, gold-dust, &c., are among the articles of value produced on the west coast. He adds that legitimate trade could not keep its ground without external assistance,' without force,' in the face of the slave trade. He mentions an interesting fact. The slave trade, till a few years ago, used to flourish to a very great extent in the Bonny; it has now been annihilated by the
Slave Trade or peaceful Commerce ?
cruisers ; and the effect is that those who were then slave * traders are now engaged actively in the palm-oil trade,' and 'four hundred thousand cwt. of palm-oil are annually exported * from that river alone!' He is asked, “Would this substitution
of palm-oil trade for slave trade have taken place, had not 'the latter been suppressed by the English cruisers?' His answer is, . It would not.
(Q. 3085.) · What in your judgment would be the effect upon the trade if the cruisers were entirely withdrawn?'-(A.) “The slave trade would revive to the detriment of the legitimate trade; in fact, almost to the exclusion of the legitimate trade, I should say.
In the river Bento, likewise, the palm-oil trade has gradually increased as the slave trade has discontinued, but would decidedly' be lessened considerably by the withdrawal of the squadron.
Captain Becroft, long engaged in the African trade, (and who distinguished himself by the aid he gave to the Niger expedition in its distress), states that legitimate traffic and the slave trade cannot co-exist together, if slave traffic is free. When he left the Bight of Biafra *, there were 20,000 tons of British shipping engaged in legitimate trade; and he states his decided opinion that without external assistance this legitimate trade would be reduced to nothing,' so completely would the slave trade embarrass it. He afterwards assures the Committee that, were the cruisers withdrawn, you would have pirates on the 6 seas, and the rivers full of slavers, and the legitimate trade
would fail. There is not the least doubt,' he adds, that • there would be a great spread of piratical adventurers along * the whole coast, so that commerce would be destroyed.'
Mr. Macqueen is asked,
• Is not the legal trade very insignificant at the actual places where the slave trade flourishes ?' – (A.) Very insignificant indeed.'
Do you attribute that in any way to the effect of the slave trade?' -(A.) Decidedly.'
He afterwards says that · Africa is capable of producing to an unbounded extent the goods which would form a means of legal traffic. There is scarcely any tropical production known
in the world that does not thrive to perfection in Africa;' and he instances her dye-stuffs and dye-woods, the sugar-cane and cotton.
* The annual imports into the Bay of Biafra are stated at 500,0001. (Ans. 3456.)
Captain Chads, R. N., is asked, — . Supposing that the squadron which we maintain were kept there wholly for the sake of preserving our commerce, what number of vessels should you think necessary for the purpose?' He answered, I should at first think it would not be safe at all to diminish the squadron, and experience would show afterwards how ' much we might reduce it by degrees. I think there would be • all kinds of excesses committed at first, if it were decided to • throw open the slave trade. It would be necessary to keep 'the squadron there for the preservation of our own interests ‘ and our own merchants.'
Captain Fishbourne, R. N., states, as the result of his own observation on the coast, that legitimate trade did not go ‘on in the presence of the slave trade. He further states the result of the withdrawal of the squadron. "The coast would become a nest of pirates, the number of slaves exported
would be enormous, legitimate trade would cease, and in a very • short time we should have to increase the squadron for the • protection of what trade remained.'
After all this testimony, can there be any doubt that the removal of the squadron would be a fatal blow to our African commerce, present and future? But, in the next place, it is equally true that the measure would be no less ruinous to our West Indian colonies. The warmest advocates of the repeal of the differential duties upon slave-grown sugar, are, nevertheless, as ready as any other reasoners to allow that, were slave labour to be poured into Cuba and Brazil without let or hinderance, there could be no prospect for our West Indies but total ruin. Lord John Russell has stated it as his decided opinion* that 'the West Indies would be in the utmost • danger if a great advantage were again given to the commerce • of Brazil, by the admission of an immense number of slaves, "and the free competition of their labour against the produce of
our own West India islands. I think,' he adds, it would • be more than the West Indies would be able to bear; they . would be unable to stand against the competition.' What authority on this point can possibly be stronger, than that of the proposer of the sugar bill of 1846? Is it not clear, if our colonists are now suffering under the competition of slaves purchased at 1001., that their ruin would be completed if the price of slaves were reduced to 25l. or 301. ?
Surely it is an element in the question which no reasonable person will neglect, that one of the incidental evils of the removal of the squadron would be, the ruin of four and twenty
* Speech, March 20. 1850.
Its Effect on our West Indian Colonies.
of our own colonies! What would make this the more cruel is, that we are informed by men speaking under official responsibility, that these colonies seem to be recovering, though slowly, from their state of deep depression, and to promise again to become valuable possessions to the empire. We hope these expectations may be realised ; and undoubtedly some indications of improvement exist among many dispiriting circumstances. The export of sugar in the two years 1847 and 1848 has been greater from our colonies than that of the two years 1845 and 1846; the excess shown by Jamaica is 62,680 cwt. : by British Guiana 390,920 cwt.: by Trinidad 67,720 cwt.: by Antigua 89,360 cwt. : amounting to a total increase in these two years upon the two years preceding, from four of our colonies, of 610,680 cwt. * It would be a short-sighted economy which should check the hopes of this reviving prosperity, and secure almost the whole supply of sugar for England and the rest of Europe to the slave-traders and planters of Cuba and Brazil.
There are other considerations which greatly fortify our conclusion, but to which we will only allude. One is, that, in the opinion of all the missionaries, without the protection of our squadron all missions must be abandoned. We wish we had room to describe what the missions, especially those in Old Calabar and Abbeokouta, have accomplished towards leading the natives to abandon human sacrifices and the slave trade, and to adopt, to a considerable degree, the habits of civilised life. Suffice it to say, that though here, as elsewhere, the good leaven can hardly work its way through, and though the difficulties are great, yet a very decided effect has already been produced upon the natives. The fibres of something like gradual civilisation appear in some places to be beginning to hold together the blowing sand. But all that we have yet done and all that we can hope to do will be destroyed at a blow, by the removal of the cruisers, and by the consequent exposure of the missionaries to the attacks of their slave-trading enemies. To estimate what missions may do in Africa, it is only necessary to point out what they have actually effected in the West Indies. We attribute to our religious instruction, more than to our twenty millions, the peaceable success of negro emancipation.
Another result of the cessation of our protective measures we should lament most deeply. It is the return of our own countrymen to the slave trade. That this would be the case, was clearly proved before the Committees : and let those who entertain doubts on this subject consider the state of the Liverpool traffic before the British slave trade was abolished. Let them
• Speech, March 20. 1850.
read the petitions from that town; let them remember the speeches of its representatives. Are we willing, after all we have done and suffered in this great cause, again to steep our hands in blood ? Surely this is all but impossible; and we rejoice that our Government have proved themselves, by their resistance to the proposition, worthy successors of the Whigs of 1806, and of those who completed the task of the abolition of the Slave Trade, by the abolition of Slavery itself.
We entered upon this inquiry with considerable uncertainty; and we have not been insensible in the course of it to the arguments advanced in favour of neutrality. Interposition in behalf even of humanity will be often a mixed question; and this is eminently one in which the truth can only be come at by going into the whole case. After a diligent examination of its several particulars, we rejoice to say, our doubts and difficulties have disappeared. We are satisfied by the evidence, that, on the removal of the cruisers, —
1. The slave trade would increase to twice or perhaps three times its present extent:
2. That, this increase would fill Africa with ruin and desolation:
3. That, it would add vastly to both the numbers and the sufferings of the slaves in Cuba and Brazil :
4. That, the horrors of the Middle Passage would remain unabated, while a far greater number of persons would have to undergo them:
5. That, our legitimate commerce with Africa, which is of great, and may become of enormous value, would be destroyed:
6. That, our West Indian islands would be almost totally ruined by the cheapness of slave labour in Cuba and Brazil, were the slave trade free:
7. That, the missions in West Africa would be extinguished, and with them the promise they give of becoming foci of civilisation, agriculture, and commerce:
8. And that, Englishmen would again largely engage in the slave trade, to the utter disgrace of the nation.
With these conclusions before us, we can no longer hesitate. England, by abandoning in weariness or selfishness an undertaking originally entered into from motives of humanity and religion, would announce to the whole world, and must confess to herself, with guilty shame, that a career of humanity and selfdenial had proved on trial a career too noble for her to pursue ;
- and that, though she has foully wronged the negro race, owes them reparation, and has acknowledged the obligation,
she nevertheless declines fulfilling it, - because, to fulfil it would cost her money.