Back to index of "justice, democracy, government..." pages by Donald Sauter.
"The American Geography; or A View Of The Present Situation of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" (1792), by Jedidiah Morse, was, in fact, the very first American geography. It is fascinating. More than just a geography, it is a detailed history of America and the individual colonies. Heck, it takes in the whole world, and the known universe. You might download your own copy from Google Books.
Here, I have extracted everything I could find relating to slavery and the situation of blacks in America.
I am not a student of history, but what I've read seems to consistently present a majority sentiment opposed to American slavery from our earliest years. For example, our grievance that England would not allow the colonies to prohibit the importation of slaves was removed from the Declaration of Independence to keep a couple of states happy. Likewise, most of the new states wanted the importation of slaves prohibited in the Constitution.
But, as always, political considerations trample majority will. Think about that before hauling out American slavery as a killer argument against simple, direct democracy as the most perfect form of government. I've heard it a million times...
Notice the year, 1792. That's well after, "All men are created equal," but just before the cotton gin was invented. Again, I am not a historian, but my understanding is that the general feeling at the time was that slavery was dying out of its own accord, when, blammo, the cotton gin came along, making cotton King, and slavery very profitable.
In fact, American-produced cotton gets only a few passing mentions in this minutely detailed book. In a long list of exports from Charleston, South Carolina in 1788 we find 61,745 barrels of rice, 5,493 hogsheads of tobacco, etc., etc., but only 33 bags of cotton. In another place, Morse reports, "A cotton manufactory has lately been established at Philadelphia," and then hazards a guess, "Cotton enough might be raised in the southern states, and manufactured in the northern, to clothe all their citizens."
You'll see that Morse gets his population figures for the different states from various times and sources. If you find the numbers interesting, be aware that at the very end is the 1791 census, hot off the press. (Yikes, I see my home state, Maryland, was the No. 2 slave-holding state then, after Virginia.)
In any case, I hope you will find passages of interesting commentary between the numbers.
Some nuts and bolts: [Comments by me are in enclosed brackets.] Morse himself supplied a closing "]" for each section head. "..." indicates material deleted by me, maybe paragraphs' worth. I have broken some big paragraphs into smaller chunks. I have left in a few apparent typos for flavor. (Who knows, maybe they weren't typos at all.) I have retained a few effy-looking s's for fun. Those are page numbers down the left-hand side.
Number of Inhabitants.] It has been supposed that there are 160 millions of inhabitants in America. It is believed, however, that this account is exaggerated at least one half. This number is composed of Indians, Negroes, Mulattoes, and some of almost every nation in Europe.
Soil and productions, vegetable and animal.] The soil of the United States, though so various that few general observations will apply, may be said to be equal to that of any country in the known world. Among the great variety of its productions are the following:
Indian corn, which is a native grain of America, from whence all the other parts of the world have been supplied. It agrees with all climates from the equator to latitude 45 degrees. It flourishes best however between the latitudes 30 degrees and 40 degrees. The bunched Guinea corn, is a small grain cultivated by the Negroes in the southern states, and affords a fine food for poultry. The spiked Indian corn is of a similar kind.
Population, Character, &c.] From the best accounts that can at present be obtained, there are, within the limits of the United States, three millions, eighty three thousand, and six hundred [3,083,600] souls. This number which is rapidly increasing both by emigrations from Europe, and by natural population, is composed of people of almost all nations, languages, characters and religions. The greater part, however, are descended from the English; and, for the sake of distinction, are called Anglo-Americans.
[We get off to a stumbling start here, but hang in there. Morse tells us that European writers have disparaged American intelligence:]
The natural genius of Americans, not through prejudice we would charitably suppose, but through want of information, has suffered in the descriptions of some ingenious and eloquent European writers.
The Count de Buffon has endeavoured to support the theory, 'That on this side the Atlantic, there is a tendency in nature to belittle her productions.' [Buffon says there's a law of nature that makes people in America inferior.] This new and unsupported theory, has been applied, by the Abbe Raynal, to the race of whites transplanted from Europe. Mr. Jefferson has confuted this theory; and by the ingenuity and abilities which he has shewn in doing it, has exhibited an instance of its falsehood. *
* [footnote] Although the Abbe, in a later edition of his works, has withdrawn his censure from that part of America inhabited by Federo-Americans; yet he has left it in its full force on the other parts, where it is equally inapplicable, if we consider the accumulated pressure of slavery, superstition and ignorance, under which the inhabitants are held. Whenever they shall be able to throw off their shackles, and act themselves, they will doubtless shew that they are like the rest of the world. [End footnote. I'm not sure what Morse means here. If "other parts" of America means the land geographically outside of the young United States, what "slavery" is he referring to? Or did he switch from geographical "parts" to the non-white "part" of the population?]
The assertion of the Abbe Raynal, that "America has not yet produced one good poet, one able mathamatician, one man of genius in a single art or a single science,' produced the following reply from Mr. Jefferson. ...
[Morse quotes Jefferson's rebuttal. Using Washington, Franklin and Rittenhouse as specific examples, Jefferson claims that "America, though a child of yesterday, has already given hopeful proofs of genius." Here's where it gets interesting. I've added emphasis in a couple of places.]
But while we exhibit the fair side of the character of Federo-Americans, we would not be thought blind to their faults.
A European writer has justly observed, that "if there be an object truly ridiculous in nature, it is an American patriot, signing resolutions of independency with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves."
Much has been written of late to shew the injustice and iniquity of enslaving the Africans; so much as to render it unnecessary here to say any thing on that part of the subject. We cannot, however, forbear introducing a few observations respecting the influence of slavery upon policy, morals and manners.
From repeated and accurate calculations, it has been found, that the expence of maintaining a slave, especially if we include the purchase-money, is greater than that of maintaining a free man; and the labour of the free man, influenced by the powerful motive of gain, is at least twice as profitable to the employer as that of the slave.
Besides, slavery is the bane of industry. It renders labour, among the whites, not only unfashonable, but disreputable. Industry is the offspring of necessity rather than of choice. Slavery precludes this necessity; and indolence, which strikes at the root of all social and political happiness, is the unhappy consequence.
These observations, without adding any thing upon the injustice of the practice, shew that slavery is impolitic. Its influence on manners and morals is equally pernicious. The negro wenches in many, perhaps I may say in most instance, are nurses to their mistresses children. The Infant babe, as soon as it is born, is delivered to its black nurse, and perhaps seldom or never tastes a drop of its mother's milk. The children, by being brought up, and constantly associating with the negroes, too often imbibe their low ideas, and vitiated manners and morals; and contract a negroish kind of accent and dialect, which they often carry with them through life.
A mischief common, in a greater or less degree, in all the southern states, at which humanity and decency blush, is the criminal intercourse between the whites and blacks. 'The enjoyment of a negro or mulatto woman,' says a traveller of observation, 'is spoken of as quite a common thing. No reluctance, delicacy, or shame, appear about the matter. It is far from being uncommon to see a gentleman at dinner and his reputed offspring a slave, waiting at the table. 'I myself,' says this writer, 'saw two instances of this kind; and the company would very facetiously trace the features of the father and mother in the child, and very accurately point out the more characteristic resemblances. The fathers neither of them blushed, nor seemed disconcerted. They were called men of worth, politeness, and humanity. Strange perversion of terms and language!
'The Africans are said to be inferior in point of sense, understanding, sentiment and feeling to white people: Hence the one infers a right to enslave the other. The African labours night and day to collect a small pittance to purchase the freedom of his child. The white man begets his likeness, and with much indifference and dignity of soul, sees his offspring in bondage and misery, and makes not one effort to redeem his own blood. Choice food for satire! wide field for burlesque! noble game for wit! sad cause for pity to bleed, and for humanity to weep! unless the enkindled blood inflame resentment, and vent itself into execrations!'
To these I shall add the observations of a native [Thomas Jefferson] of a state which contains a greater number of slaves than any of the others. For although his observations upon the influence of slavery were intended for a particular state, they will apply equally well to all places where this pernicious practice in any considerable degree prevails.
'There must, doubtless,' [Jefferson] observes, 'be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education in him. From his cradle to his grave he is learning to do what he sees others do. If a parent could find no motive either in his philanthropy or his self-love, for restraining the intemperance of passion towards his slave, it should always be a sufficient one that his child is present. But generally it is not sufficient. The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the lineaments of wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, gives a loose to his worst of passions, and thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities. The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and morals undepraved by such circumstances.
'And with what execration should the statesman be loaded, who permitting one half the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots, and these into enemies, destroys the morals of the one part, and the amor patria of the other. For if a slave can have a country in this world, it must be any other in preference to that in which he is born to live and labour for another: in which he must lock up the faculties of his nature, contribute as far as depends on his individual endeavours to the evanishment of the human race, or entail his own miserable condition on the endless generations proceeding from him. With the morals of the people, their industry also is destroyed. For in a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labour.
'And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever; that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, and exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference?--The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest.
'But it is impossible to be temperate and to pursue this subject through the various considerations of policy, of morals, of history natural and civil. We must be contented to hope they will force their way into every one's mind. I think a change already perceptible, since the origin of the present revolution. The spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition mollifying, the way I hope preparing, under the auspices of heaven, for a total emancipation; and that this is disposed, in the order of events, to be with the consent of the masters, rather than by their extirpation.'
[Morse again:] Under the foederal government which is now established, we have reason to believe that all slaves in the United States will in time be emancipated, in a manner most consistent with their own happiness, and the true interest of their proprietors. Whether this will be affected by transporting them back to Africa; or by colonizing them in some part of our own territory, and extending to them our alliance and protection until they shall have acquired strength sufficient for their own defence; or by incorporation with the whites; or in some other way, remains to be determined.
All these methods are attended with difficulties. The first would be cruel; the second dangerous; and the latter disagreable and unnatural. Deep-rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinction which nature has made; besides many other circumstances which would tend to divide them into parties, and produce convulsions, are, objections against retaining and incorporating the blacks with the citizens of the several states.
But justice and humanity demand that these difficulties should be surmounted.
In the middle and northern states, there are comparatively but few slaves; and of course there is less difficulty in giving them their freedom. Societies for the manumission of slaves have been instituted in Philadelphia and New-York; and laws have been enacted, and other measures taken in the New-England states to accomplish the same purpose. The FRIENDS, (commonly called Quakers,) have evinced the propriety of their name, by their goodness in originating, and their vigorous exertions in executing, this truly humane and benevolent design.
The English language is the one which is universally spoken in the United States, in which business is transacted, and the records kept. It is spoken with great purity, and pronounced with propriety in New-England... Attempts are making to introduce a uniformity of pronunciation throughout the States, which for political as well as other reasons it is hoped will meet the approbation and encouragement of all literary and influential characters. ...
The time, however, is anticipated when all distinctions between master and slave shall be abolished; and when the language, manners, customs, political and religious sentiments of the mixed mass of people who inhabit the United States, shall have become so assimilated, as that all nominal distinctions shall be lost in the general and honourable name of AMERICANS.
Military and Marine strength.] On these two heads, as we have no accurate estimate of the number of inhabitants in some of the states, and no official returns of the militia; and as we have in fact no marine strength, we are left to the field of conjecture and anticipation. The following estimate may serve until a better one can be made. Suppose the number of inhabitants in the United States to be three millions, eighty three thousand [3,083,000]. Deduct from this five hundred and fixty thousand [560,000], the supposed number of negroes; the remainder will be two millions, five hundred and twenty-three thousand [2,523,000], the number of whites. Suppose one sixth part of these capable of bearing arms, it will be found that the number of fencible men in the United States are four hundred and twenty thousand [420,000]. This, it is conceived, is but a moderate estimate.
Population, Character, &c.] No actual census of the inhabitants has been lately made. In the Convention at Philadelphia, in 1787, they were reckoned at 102,000.
There is no characteristical difference between the inhabitants of this and the other New-England States. ... Slaves there are none. Negroes, who were never numerous in New-Hampshire, are all free by the first article of the bill of rights.
Trade, Manufactures and Agriculture.] ...
New markets for the produce of this, and the other states, are continually increasing. The Cape of Good Hope, the Isle of France, Surat, Batavia and Canton, have lately opened their ports to receive the articles of beef, pork, bacon, butter, cheese, timber, ginseng, and several others. To Great-Britain are sent pot and pearl ashes, staves, flax-seed, bees-wax, &c. To the West-Indies, lumber, fish, pork, beef, flour, &c. The whale, cod, and mackarel fisheries, employ a great number of hands, and yield a handsome profit. The Negro trade is totally prohibited in Massachusetts, by an act passed in the winter of 1788.
In 1656 began what has been generally called the persecution of the Quakers. ...
The laws in England, at this time, were very severe against the Quakers; and though none were actually put to death by public execution, yet many were confined in prisons where they died in consequence of the rigor of the law. King Charles the second also, in a letter to the colony of Massachusetts, approved of their severity. The conduct of the Quakers, at several times, was such as rendered them proper subjects of a mad-house, or a house of correction; and it is to be lamented that ever any greater severities were used. I will mention one or two instances of their conduct, which clearly manifest a species of madness. 'Thomas Newhouse went into the meeting-house at Boston with a couple of glass bottles, and broke them before the congregation, and threatened, Thus will the Lord break you in pieces. Another time M. Brewster came in with her face smeared as black as a coal. Deborah Wilson went through the streets of Salem naked as she was born.' While we condemn the severity with which the Quakers were treated on the one part, we cannot, at the same time, avoid censuring their imprudent, indelicate and infatuated conduct on the other.
These unhappy disturbances continued until the friends of the Quakers in England interposed, and obtained an order from the king, September 9th, 1661, requiring that a stop should be put to all capital or corporal punishment of his subjects called Quakers. This order was prudently complied with, and the disturbances by degrees subsided. From this time the Quakers became in general an orderly, peaceable people, and have submitted to the laws of the governments under which they have resided, except such as relate to the militia and the support of the ministry, and in their scruples as to these they have from time to time wisely been indulged. They are a moral, friendly, and benevolent people, and have much merit as a body for their strict discipline, regular correspondence, for their hospitality, and particularly for their exertions in the abolition of the slavery of the Negroes. In this land of civil and religious freedom, it is hoped that persecution will never again lift its direful head against any religious denomination of people, whose sentiments and conduct are consistent with the peace and happiness of society.
Civil Divisions and Population.] This state is divided into five counties, which are subdivided into twenty-nine townships, as follows:
[Extract from above table showing figures for blacks and whites:]
Trade.] Before the war, the merchants in Rhode-Island imported from Great-Britain, dry goods--from Holland, money--from Africa, slaves--from the West-Indies, sugars, coffee, and molasses--and from the neighbouring colonies, lumber and provisions. With the money which they obtained in Holland, they paid their merchants in England; their sugars they carried to Holland; the slaves from Africa, they carried to the West-Indies, together with the lumber and provisions procured from their neighbours; the rum distilled from molasses, was carried to Africa, to purchase negroes; with their dry goods from England, they trafficked with the neighbouring colonies.
By this kind of circuitous commerce, they subsisted and grew rich. But the war, and some other events, have had a great, and in most respects, an injurious effect upon the trade of this state. The slave trade, which was a source of wealth to many of the people in Newport, and in other parts of the state, has happily been abolished. The legislature have passed a law prohibiting ships from going to Africa for slaves, and selling them in the West-India islands; and the oath of one seaman, belonging to the ship, is sufficient evidence of the fact. This law is more favourable to the cause of humanity, than to the temporal interests of the merchants who had been engaged in this inhuman trade. The prohibition of the slave trade, and the iniquitous and destructive influence of paper money, combined with the devastations of a cruel war, have occasioned a stagnation of trade in Newport, which is truly melancholy and distressing. The salutary influence of a wise and efficient government, it is hoped, will revive the desponding hopes of the people in this beautiful city, and place them in their former affluent and respectable situation.
In 1730, the colony was filled with inhabitants; and chiefly by the natural increase of the first settlers. The number of souls in the state at this time was 17,935; of which no more than 985 were Indians, and 1648 negroes.
Civil Divisions and Population.] Connecticut is divided into eight counties...
The following table exhibits a view of the population, &c. of this state in 1782...
In the town of Pomfret is a cave rendered remarkable by the humorous adventure of General Putnam. This cave is described, and the story elegantly told by Colonel Humphreys, in his life of that hero. The story and the description I shall insert in his own words.
Soon after Mr. Putnam removed to Connecticut, the wolves, then very numerous, broke into his sheep-fold, and killed seventy fine sheep and goats, besides wounding many lambs and kids. This havoc was committed by a she-wolf, which, with her annual whelps, had for several years infested the vicinity. ...
This wolf, at length, became such an intolerable nuisance, that Mr. Putnam entered into a combination with five of his neighbours to hunt alternately until they could destroy her. ... By ten the next morning the blood-hounds had driven her into a den, about three miles distant from the house of Mr. Putnam: the people soon collected with dogs, guns, straw, fire and sulphur, to attack the common enemy. With this apparatus several unsuccessful efforts were made to force her from the den. The hounds came back badly wounded, and refused to return. The smoke of blazing straw had no effect. Nor did the fumes of burnt brimstone, with which the cavern was filled, compel her to quit the retirement. Wearied with such fruitless attempts (which had brought the time to ten o'clock at night) Mr. Putnam tried once more to make his dog enter, but in vain; he proposed to his negro man to go down into the cavern and shoot the wolf: the negro declined the hazardous service. Then it was that their master, angry at the disappointment, and declaring that he was ashamed to have a coward in his family, resolved himself to destroy the ferocious beast, lest she should escape through some unknown fissure of the rock. His neighbours strongly remonstrated against the perilous enterprize: but he, knowing that wild animals were intimidated by fire, and having provided several strips of birch- bark, the only combustible material which he could obtain, that would afford light in this deep and darksome cave, prepared for his descent. Having, accordingly, divested himself of his coat and waistcoat, and having a long rope fastened round his legs, by which he might be pulled back, at a concerted signal, he entered head foremost, with the blazing torch in his hand.
[Putnam meets the growling wolf, and is yanked out by the people at the mouth of the cave, much the worse for wear. He goes in again with a gun and shoots the wolf just as she is about to spring. He is unceremoniously yanked out again. He descends a third time.]
And perceiving her dead, he took hold of her ears, and then kicking the rope, (still tied round his legs), the people above, with no small exultation, dragged them both out together.
Civil Divisions, Population, Character, &c.] This state... is divided into sixteen counties...
The number of inhabitants in this state, in 1786, was 238,897; of which 18,889 were negroes. In 1756, there were 83,233 whites, and 13,542 blacks, 96,775 in the whole. In 1771, there were 148,124 whites, and 19,883 blacks, total 168,007. The blacks, since this enumeration, have decreased 1000, which is a happy circumstance. From the humane exertions that are making in this state, for their emancipation it is probable that they will continue to decrease. From the above enumerations it appears, that the average increase of inhabitants, from 1756 to 1786, has been 4554 [per year]. A considerable part of these, however, have emigrated from Europe and the New-England states. ...
Chief Towns.] ... New-York is the capital of the state, and, so long as it continues to be the seat of the general government, must be considered as the capital of the United States. ...
It is found, by a memorandum in one of the old registers, that the number of inhabitants in the city, taken by order of the king in the year 1697, was as follows:
Whites. Men - - - 946 Women - - 1018 Young men and boys 864 Young women and girls 899 Negroes. Men - - - 209 Women - - 205 Boys and girls - 161 ---- Total 4302
Literary and Humane Societies.] There are very few societies for improvement in knowledge or humanity in this state; and these few are in the city of New York. The first is 'The society for promoting useful knowledge.' This society is upon an establishment similar to other philosophical societies in Europe and America, but is not incorporated. The members meet once a month. Secondly, 'The society for the manumission of slaves, and protecting such of them as have been or may be liberated.' This society meets once a quarter. Both these societies consist of gentlemen of the first character in the city, and of some in other parts of the state. Besides these, there is the 'Philological society,' instituted in 1788. This growing society has for its principal object the improvement of the English language,
Civil Divisions, Population, &c.] New-Jersey is divided into 13 counties...
[Reduce image size, if necessary, to view the two parts of the table side-by-side.]
In 1784, a census of the inhabitants was made by order of the legislature, when they amounted to 140,435, of which 10,501 were blacks. Of these blacks, 1939 only were slaves; so that the proportion of slaves to the whole of the inhabitants in the state, is as one to seventy six. The population for every square mile is eighteen.
In 1738, the number of inhabitants in New-Jersey was 47,369; of which 3,981 were slaves. In 1745, there were 61,403 inhabitants in the colony, of which 4606 were slaves. The average annual increase of inhabitants in New-Jersey since the year 1738, has been 2219, exclusive of emigrations.
Chief Towns.] There are a number of towns in this state, nearly of equal size and importance, and none that has more than two hundred houses, compactly built. ...
BURLINGTON (City) extends three miles along the Delaware, and one mile back, at right angles, into the county of Burlington, and is twenty miles above Philadelphia by water, and seventeen by land. The island, which is the most populous part of the city, is a mile and a quarter in length, and three quarters of a mile in breadth. ... On the island are one hundred and sixty houses, nine hundred white, and one hundred black inhabitants. But few of the negroes are slaves. The main streets are conveniently spacious, and mostly ornamented with trees in the fronts of the houses, which are regularly arranged. ... There are two houses for public worship in the town, one for the Friends or Quakers, who are the most numerous, and one for Episcopalians. The other public buildings are two market-houses, a court house, and the best gaol in the state. Besides these, there is an academy, already mentioned, a free school, a nail manufactory, and an excellent distillery, if that can be called excellent, which produces a poison both of health and morals.
311 - 316
Population, character, manners, &c.] ...
[Three "species" of farmer are generalized in these pages. The first cleared the land and started farming. He often abandons it in debt to a landholder. The second species of settler, "generally a man of some property", buys the plantation with maybe one third down. He has bad habits which get him into debt. So he is compelled to sell to a settler of the third and last species, who is "commonly a man of property and good character."]
Of this [third] class of settlers are two-thirds of the farmers of Pennsylvania: these are the men to whom Pennsylvania owes her ancient fame and consequence. If they possess less refinement than their southern neighbours, who cultivate their lands with slaves, they possess more republican virtue. It was from the farms cultivated by these men, that the American and French armies were fed chiefly with bread during the late revolution: and it was from the produce of these farms, that those millions of dollars were obtained from the Havanna after the year 1780, which laid the foundation of the bank of North America, and which fed and clothed the American army, till the glorious peace of Paris.
Religion.] We have already mentioned the prevailing religious sects in this state. A particular account of some of their peculiar customs and tenets will here be expected. Of the great variety of religious denominations in Pennsylvania, the FRIENDS or QUAKERS are the most numerous. ... They came over to America as early as 1656, but were not indulged the free exercise of their religion in New-England.
They were the first settlers of Pennsylvania in 1682, under William Penn, and have ever since flourished in the free enjoyment of their religion. They believe that God has given to all men sufficient light to work their salvation... They neither give titles, nor use compliments in their conversation or writings, believing that whatsoever is more than yea, yea, and nay, nay, cometh of evil. They conscientiously avoid, as unlawful, kneeling, bowing, or uncovering the head to any person. They discard all superfluities in dress or equipage; all games, sports, and plays, as unbecoming the christian. 'Swear not at all' is an article of their creed, literally observed in its utmost extent. They believe it unlawful, to fight in any case whatever; and think that if their enemy smite them on the one cheek, they ought to turn to him the other also. They are generally honest, punctual, and even punctilious in their dealings; provident for the necessities of their poor; friends to humanity, and of course enemies to slavery... In short, whatever peculiarities and mistakes those of other denominations have supposed they have fallen into, in point of religious doctrines, they have proved themselves to be good citizens.
Literary, Humane, and other useful Societies.] ...
7. THE PENNSYLVANIA SOCIETY for promoting the ABOLITION OF SLAVERY, and the relief of FREE NEGROES unlawfully held in bondage. This society was begun in 1774, and enlarged on the 23d of April, 1787. The officers of the society consist of a president, two vice-presidents, two secretaries, a treasurer, four counsellors, an electing committee of twelve, and an acting committee of six members; all of whom, except the last, are to be chosen annually by ballot, on the first Monday in January. The society meet quarterly, and each member contributes ten shillings annually, in quarterly payments, towards defraying its contingent expences.
The legislature of this state have favoured the humane designs of this society, by 'An Act for the gradual Abolition of Slavery;' passed on the 1st of March, 1780; wherein, among other things, it is ordained, that no person born within the state, after the passing of the act, shall be considered as a servant for life; and all perpetual slavery is, by this act, for ever abolished. The act provides, that those who would, in case this act had not been made, have been born servants or slaves, shall be deemed such, till they shall attain to the age of twenty-eight years; but they are to be treated in all respects as servants bound by indenture for four years.
Colleges, Academies, and Schools.] ...
In Philadelphia, besides the university and medical school already mentioned, there is the PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL ACADEMY, a very flourishing institution--THE ACADEMY FOR YOUNG LADIES--Another for the Friends or Quakers, and one for the Germans; besides five free schools, one for the people called Quakers, one for Presbyterians, one for Catholics, one for Germans, and one for Negroes.
Chief Towns.] Philadelphia is the capital, not only of this, but of the United States. [But see similar comment with respect to New York, page 257.] ...
In 1749, the dwelling houses in the several wards in Philadelphia, were as follows. ... Total - 2076
At this time the number of inhabitants in the city were estimated at 11,000 whites, and 600 blacks.
Among other useful laws of this state, of a public nature, are, one that declares all rivers and creeks to be highways--a law for the emancipation of negroes, already mentioned [see page 326-327 above]--a bankrupt law, nearly on the model of the bankrupt laws of England--a law commuting hard labour for a long term of years, for death, as a punishment for many crimes which are made capital by the laws of England. Murder, arson, and one or two other crimes, are yet punished with death--A bill was before the legislature last year, (1787) the purport of which was to enable foreigners, (remaining in their native allegiance) to hold lands in Pennsylvania, which is not the case in Great-Britain, nor in any other of the United States.
Civil Divisions.] Maryland is divided into 18 counties, 10 of which are on the western, and 8 on the eastern shore of the Chesapeek-Bay. These, with their population in 1782, are as follows:
[Extract from above table showing figures for Negroes:]
Face of the Country, Soil, and Productions.] ...
Wheat and tobacco are the staple commodities of Maryland. Tobacco is generally cultivated by negroes, in setts, in the following manner: The seed is sowed in beds of fine mould, and transplanted the beginning of May. The plants are set at the distance of 3 or 4 feet from each other, and are hilled and kept continually free of weeds. When as many leaves have shot out as the soil will nourish to advantage, the top of the plant is broken off, which prevents its growing higher. It is carefully kept clear of worms, and the suckers, which put out between the leaves, are taken off at proper times, till the plant arrives at perfection, which is in August. When the leaves turn of a brownish colour, and begin to be spotted, the plant is cut down and hanged up to dry, after having sweated in heaps one night. When it can be handled without crumbling, which is always in moist weather, the leaves are stripped from the stalk, tied in bundles, and packed for exportation in hogsheads containing 8 or 900 pounds. No suckers nor ground leaves are allowed to be merchantable. An industrious person may manage 6000 plants of tobacco, (which yield 1000lb.) and four acres of land.
Population and Character.] The population of this state is exhibited in the foregoing table. By that it appears that the number of inhabitants in the state, including the negroes, is 254,050; which is 18 for every square mile.
The inhabitants, except in the populous towns, live on their plantations, often several miles distant from each other. To an inhabitant of the middle, and especially of the eastern states, which are thickly populated, they appear to live very retired and unsocial lives. The effects of this comparative solitude are visible in the countenances, as well as in the manners and dress of the country people. You observe very little of that chearful sprightliness of look and action which is the invariable and genuine offspring of social intercourse. Nor do you find that attention paid to dress, which is common, and which decency and propriety have rendered necessary, among people who are liable to receive company almost every day. Unaccustomed, in a great measure, to these frequent and friendly visits, they often suffer a negligence, in their dress which borders on slovenliness. There is apparently a disconsolate wildness in their countenances, and an indolence and inactivity in their whole behaviour, which are evidently the effects of solitude and slavery. As the negroes perform all the manual labour, their masters are left to saunter away life in sloth, and too often in ignorance.
These observations, however, must in justice be limited to the people in the country, and to those particularly, whose poverty or parsimony prevents their spending a part of their time in populous towns, or otherwise mingling with the world. And with these limitations they will equally apply to all the southern states. The inhabitants of the populous towns, and those from the country who have intercourse with them, are in their manners and customs like the people of the other states in like situations.
That pride which grows on slavery, and is habitual to those who, from their infancy, are taught to believe and to feel their superiority, is a visible characteristic of the inhabitants of Maryland. But with this characteristic we must not fail to connect that of hospitality to strangers, which is equally universal and obvious, and is, perhaps, in part, the offspring of it.
[Morse's section on Virginia was taken largely from Thomas Jefferson's "History of Virginia". That explains the quote marks. While the table showing the Virginia's population change from that magical year, 1607, is quite interesting, I wouldn't worry about stepping through Jefferson's derivation of the final population figure (567,614) for 1782. In any case, it looks quite consistent with the 1791 census figure (747,610) given in the table at the very bottom. If I understand, a "tythe" is anyone above the age of 16, except for white females--what an odd classification. I gather that a "titheable slave" is a "tythe" who is a slave; that is, a male or female slave above the age of 16. I'm sure Jefferson knew what he was doing when he doubled the titheable slaves (to bring in the ones under 16) and added that to "slaves of all ages and sexes". But don't look at me... I mention all this to say, don't glaze over before reaching Jefferson's closing remarks in this section.]
Population.] 'The following table shews the number of persons imported for the establishment of our colony in its infant state, and the census of inhabitants at different periods, extracted from our historians and public records, as particularly as I have had opportunities and leisure to examine them. Successive lines in the same year shew successive periods of time in that year. I have stated the census in two different columns, the whole inhabitants having been sometimes numbered, and sometimes the tythes only. This term, with us, includes the free males above 16 years of age, and slaves above that age of both sexes.
'A further examination of our records would render this history of our population much more satisfactory and perfect, by furnishing a greater number of intermediate terms. These however which are here stated will enable us to calculate, with a confiderable degree of precision, the rate at which we have increased. During the infancy of the colony, while numbers were small, wars, importations, and other accidental circumstances, render the progression fluctuating and irregular. By the year 1654, however, it becomes tolerably uniform, importations having in a great measure ceased from the dissolution of the company, and the inhabitants become too numerous to be sensibly affected by Indian wars. Beginning at that period, therefore, we find that from thence to the year 1772, our tythes had increased from 7209 to 153,000. The whole term being of 118 years, yields a duplication once in every 27 1/4 years. ...
'It will be proper to explain how the numbers for the year 1782 have been obtained; and it was not from a perfect census of the inhabitants. It will at the same time develope the proportion between the free inhabitants and slaves. The following return of taxable articles for that year was given in.
Free males aboves 21 years of age - 53,289 Slaves of all ages and sexes - 211,698 Not distinguished in the returns, but said to be titheable slaves - 23,766 Horses - - - - - 195,439 Cattle - - - - - 609,734 Wheels of riding carriages - - 5,126 Taverns - - - - - 191
'There were no returns from the 8 counties of Lincoln, Jefferson, Fayette, Monongalia, Yohogania, Ohio, Northampton, and York. To find the number of slaves which would have been returned instead of the 23,766 titheables, we must mention that some observations on a former census had given reason to believe that the numbers above and below 16 years of age were equal. The double of this number, therefore, to wit, 47,532, must be added to 211,698, which will give us 259,230 slaves of all ages and sexes. To find the number of free inhabitants, we must repeat the observation, that those above and below 16 are nearly equal. But as the number 53,289 omits the males between 16 and 21, we must supply them from conjecture. On a former experiment it had appeared that about one-third of our militia, that is, of the males between 16 and 50, were unmarried. Knowing how early marriage takes place here, we shall not be far wrong in supposing that the unmarried part of our militia are those between 16 and 21. If there be young men who do not marry till after 21, there are as many who marry before that age. But as the men above 50 were not included in the militia, we will suppose the unmarried, or those between 16 and 21, to be one-fourth of the whole number above 16, then we have the following calculation:
Free males above 21 years of age - 53,289 Free males between 16 and 21 - - 17,763 Free males under 16 - - - 71,052 Free females of all ages - - 142,104 -------- Free inhabitants of all ages - - 284,208 Slaves of all ages - - - 259,230 -------- Inhabitants, exclusive of the 8 counties from which were no returns - - 543,438 In these 8 counties in the years 1779 and 1780 were 3,161 militia. Say then, Free males above the age of 16 - - 3,161 Ditto under 16 - - - - 3,161 Free females - - - - 6,322 ------- Free inhabitants in these 8 counties - 12,644
To find the number of slaves, say, as 284,208 to 259,230, so is 12,644 to 11,532. Adding the third of these numbers to the first, and the fourth to the second, we have,
Free inhabitants - - - - 296,852 Slaves - - - - - 270,762 ------- Inhabitants of every age, sex and condition - 567,614
'But 296,852, the number of free inhabitants, are to 270,762, the number of slaves nearly as 11 to 10. Under the mild treatment our slaves experience, and their wholesome, though coarse, food, this blot in our country increases as fast, or faster, than the whites.
'During the regal government, we had at one time obtained a law, which imposed such a duty on the importation of slaves, as amounted nearly to a prohibition, when one inconsiderate assembly, placed under a peculiarity of circumstance, repealed the law. This repeal met a joyful sanction from the then sovereign, and no devices, no expedients, which could ever after be attempted by subsequent assemblies, and they seldom met without attempting them, could succeed in getting the royal assent to a renewal of the duty. In the very first session held under the republican government, the assembly passed a law for the perpetual prohibition of the importation of slaves. This will in some measure stop the increase of this great political and moral evil, while the minds of our citizens may be ripening for a complete emancipation of human nature.'
Civil divisions.] ... 'We have no townships. Our country being much intersected with navigable waters, and trade brought generally to our doors, instead of our being obliged to go in quest of it, has probably been one of the causes why we have no towns of any consequence. Williamsburg, which, till the year 1780, was the seat of our government, never contained above 1800 inhabitants...'
To the foregoing general account [says Morse], we add the following more particular descriptions.
WILLIAMSBURG is 60 miles eastward of Richmond... It consists of about 200 houses, going fast to decay, and not more than 900 or 1000 souls. It is regularly laid out in parallel streets, with a square in the center, through which runs the principal street, E. and W. about a mile in length, and more than 100 feet wide. At the ends of this street are two public buildings, the college and capitol. Besides these there is an Episcopal church, a prison, a hospital for lunatics, and the palace; all of them extremely indifferent. In the capitol is a large marble statue, in the likeness of Narbone Berkley, lord Betecourt, a man distinguished for his love of piety, literature and good government, and formerly governor of Virginia. It was erected at the expence of the state, since the year 1771. The capitol is little better than in ruins, and this elegant statue is exposed to the rudeness of negroes and boys, and is shamefully defaced.
Character, Manners, and Customs.] Virginia has produced some of the most distinguished and influential man that have been active in effecting the two late grand and important revolutions in America. ...
A sensible gentleman (The Rev. Andrew Burnaby, Vicar of Greenwich) who travelled through the middle settlements in America, about 30 years ago, has given the Virginians the following character.
'The climate and external appearance of the country conspire to make them indolent, easy, and good-natured; extremely fond of society, and much given to convivial pleasures. In consequence of this, they seldom show any spirit of enterprize, or expose themselves willingly to fatigue. Their authority over their slaves renders them vain and imperious, and entire strangers to that elegance of sentiment, which is so peculiarly characteristic of refined and polished nations. Their ignorance of mankind and of learning, exposes them to many errors and prejudices, especially in regard to Indians and Negroes, whom they scarcely consider as of the human species; so that it is almost impossible, in cases of violence, or even murder, committed upon those unhappy people by any of the planters, to have the delinquents brought to justice: for either the grand jury refuse to find the bill, or the petit jury bring in their verdict, not guilty.
'The display of a character thus constituted, will naturally be in acts of extravagance, ostentation, and a disregard of oeconomy; it is not extraordinary, therefore, that the Virginians out-run their incomes; and that having involved themseves in difficulties, they are frequently tempted to raise money by bills of exchange, which they know will be returned protested, with 10 per cent. interest.' ...
'The women are, upon the whole, rather handsome, though not to be compared with our fair country-women in England. ... They are immoderately fond of dancing, and indeed it is almost the only amusement they partake of: But even in this they discover great want of taste and elegance, and seldom appear with that gracefulness and ease which those movements are so calculated to display. Towards the close of an evening, when the company are pretty well tired with country dances, it is usual to dance jiggs; a practice originally borrowed, I am informed, from the Negroes. These dances are without any method or regularity: A gentleman and lady stand up, and dance about the room, one of them retiring, the other pursuing, then perhaps meeting, in an irregular fantastical manner. After some time, another lady gets up, and then the first lady must sit down, she being as they term it, cut out: The second lady act the same part which the first did, till somebody cuts her out. The gentlemen perform in the same manner.' ...
'The young men, another traveller observes, generally speaking, are gamblers, cock-fighters, and horse-jockies.' ... A spirit for literary enquiries ... is, among the body of the people, evidently subordinate to a spirit of gaming and barbarous sports. At almost every tavern or ordinary, on the public road, there is a billiard-table, a back-gammon table, cards, and other implements for various games. To those public houses, the gambling gentry in the neighbourhood resort to kill time, which hangs heavily upon them; and at this business they are extremely expert, having been accustomed to it from their earliest youth. The passion for cock-fighting, a diversion not only inhumanly barbarous, but infinitely beneath the dignity of a man of sense, is so predominant, that they even advertise their matches in the public news-papers. This dissipation of manners is the fruit of indolence and luxury, which are the fruits of the African slavery.
Constitution, Courts and Laws.] ...
In 1661, the laws of England were expressly adopted by an act of the assembly of Virginia, except so far as 'a difference of condition' rendered them inapplicable. To these were added a number of acts of assembly, passed during the monarchy, and ordinances of convention, and acts of assembly since the establishment of the republic. The following variations from the British model are worthy of notice.
'Debtors unable to pay their debts, and making faithful delivery of their whole effects, are released from their confinement, and their persons for ever discharged from the restraint for such previous debts; But any property they may afterwards acquire will be subject to their creditors.
'The poor unable to support themselves, are maintained by an assessment on the titheable persons in their parish. ...
'Slaves pass by descent and dower as lands do.
'Slaves, as well as lands, were entailable during the monarchy: But, by an act of the first republican assembly, all donees in tail, present and further, were vested with the absolute dominion of the entailed subject.' ...
In October 1786, an act was passed by the assembly, prohibiting the importation of slaves into the commonwealth, upon penalty of the forfeiture of the sum of 1000 pounds for every slave. And every slave imported contrary to the true intent and meaning of this act, becomes free.
Principal Towns.] ...
WILMINGTON is a town of about 180 houses, situated on the east side of the eastern branch of Cape Fear river, 34 miles from the sea. The course of the river, as it passes by the town, is from north to south, and is about 150 yards wide. In 1786, a fire broke out, supposed to have been kindled by negroes, and consumed about 25 or 30 houses. The town is rebuilding slowly. A printing-office was established here in 1788.
Trade.] A great proportion of the produce of the back country, consisting of tobacco, wheat, Indian corn, &c. is carried to market in South-Carolina and Virginia. The southern interior counties carry their produce to Charleston; and the northern to Petersburg, in Virginia. The exports from the lower parts of the state, are, tar, pitch, turpentine, rosin, Indian corn, boards, scantling, slaves, singles, furs, tobacco, pork, lard, tallow, bees-wax, myrtle-wax, and a few other articles. Their trade is chiefly with the West-Indies, and the northern states. From the latter they receive flour, cheese, cyder, apples, potatoes, iron wares, cabinet wares, hats, and dry goods of all kinds, imported from Great Britain, France, and Holland, teas, &c. From the West-Indies, rum, sugar, and coffee.
Population, Character, Manners, and Customs.] The inhabitants of this state are reckoned at 270,000, of which 60,000 are negroes. The North Carolinians are mostly planters, and live from half a mile to 3 or 4 miles from each other, on their plantations. They have a plentiful country--no ready market for their produce--little intercourse with strangers, and a natural fondness for society, which induce them to be hospitable to travellers. In the lower districts the inhabitants have very few places for public and weekly worship of any kind; and these few, being destitute of ministers, are suffered to stand neglected. The sabbath of course, which, in most civilized countries, is professionally and externally, at least, regarded as holy time, and which, considered merely in a civil view, is an excellent establishment for the promotion of cleanliness, friendship, harmony, and all the social virtues, is here generally disregarded, or distinguished by the convivial visitings of the white inhabitants, and the noisy diversions of the negroes. The women, except in some of the populous towns, have very little intercourse with each other, and are almost entirely destitute of the bloom and vivacity of the north: yet they possess a great deal of kindness, and, except that they suffer their infant babes to suck the breasts of their black nurses, are good mothers, and obedient wives.
The general topics of conversation among the men, when cards, the bottle, and occurrences of the day do not intervene, are negroes, the prices of indigo, rice, tobacco, &c. They appear to have as little taste for the sciences as for religion. ...
Temperance and industry are not to be reckoned among the virtues of the North-Carolinians. The time which they waste in drinking, idling, and gambling, leaves them very little opportunity to improve their plantations or their minds. The improvement of the former is left to their overseers and negroes; the improvement of the latter is too often neglected. Were the time, which is thus wasted, spent in cultivating the soil, and in treasuring up knowledge, they might be both wealthy and learned; for they have a productive country, and are by no means destitute of genius.
Chief Towns.] CHARLESTON is the only considerable town in South Carolina. ...
In 1787, there were 1600 houses in this city, and 9600 white inhabitants, and 5400 negroes; and what evinces the healthiness of the place, upwards of 200 of the white inhabitants were above 60 years of age.
Soil and productions.] The soil may be divided into four kinds, first, the Pine-barren, which is valuable only for its timber. Interspersed among the pine-barren, are tracts of land free of timber, and of every kind of growth but that of grass. These tracts are called Savannas, constituting a second kind of soil, good for grazing. The third kind is that of the swamps and low grounds on the rivers, which is a mixture of black loam and fat clay, producing naturally canes in great plenty, cypress, bays, &c. In these swamps rice is cultivated, which constitutes the staple commodity of the state. The high-lands, commonly known by the name of oak and hiccory lands, constitute the fourth kind of soil. The natural growth is oak, hiccory, walnut, pine, and locust. On these lands, in the low country, are cultivated, Indian corn, principally; and in the back country, besides these, they raise tobacco in large quantities, wheat, rye, barley, oats, hemp, flax, cotton, and silk.
At the distance of about 110 miles from the sea, the river swamps for the culture of rice terminate. ...
It is curious to observe the gradations from the sea coast to the upper country, with respect to the produce--the mode of cultivation, and the cultivators. On the islands upon the sea-coast, and for 40 or 50 miles back (and on the rivers much farther) the cultivators are all slaves. No white man, to speak generally, ever thinks of settling a farm, and improving it for himself without negroes. If he has no negroes, he hires himself as overseer, to some rich planter, who has more than he can or will attend to, till he can purchase for himself. The articles cultivated, are corn and potatoes, which are food for the negroes; rice and indigo, for exportation. The soil is cultivated almost wholly by manual labor. The plough, till since the peace, was scarcely used, and prejudices still exist against it.--In the middle settlements negroes are not so numerous. The master attends personally to his own business, and is glad to use the plough to assist his negroes, or himself, when he has no negroes. The soil is not rich enough for rice. It produces moderately good indigo weed; no tobacco is raised for exportation. The farmer is contented to raise corn, potatoes, oats, poultry, and a little wheat.--In the upper country, many men have a few negroes, and a few have many; but generally speaking, the farmers have none, and depend, like the inhabitants of the northern states, upon the labor of themselves and families for subsistence. The plough is used almost wholly. ...
Laws.] The laws of this state have nothing in them of a particular nature, excepting what arises from the permission of slavery. The evidence of a slave cannot be taken against a white man, and the master who kills his slave is not punishable, otherwise than by a pecuniary mulct, and 12 months imprisonment.
Population and Character.] The best estimate of the inhabitants in this state which has been made, fixes their number at 80,000 white people, and as many negroes--some say there is 120,000 negroes in this state; but no actual census has lately been made. [Unfortunately, the 1791 census, shown at the bottom, only gives the total population (240,000) with no breakdown.] On the sea coast there are many more slaves than freemen. The bulk of the white population is in the western parts of the state.
There is no peculiarity in the manners of the inhabitants of this state, except what arises from the mischievous influence of slavery; and in this, indeed, they do not differ from the inhabitants of the other southern states. Slavery, by exempting great numbers from the necessities of labour, leads to luxury, dissipation and extravagance. The absolute authority which is exercised over their slaves, too much favours a haughty, supercilious behaviour. A disposition to obey the christian precept, 'To do to others as we would that others should do unto us,' is not cherished by a daily exhibition of many made for one.
The Carolinians sooner arrive at maturity, both in their bodies and minds, than the natives of colder climates. They possess a natural quickness and vivacity of genius superior to the inhabitants of the north; but too generally want that enterprize and perseverance, which are necessary for the highest attainments in the arts and sciences. They have, indeed, few motives to enterprize. Inhabiting a fertile country, which by the labor of the slaves, produces plentifully, and creates affluence--in a climate which favors indulgence, ease, and a disposition for convivial pleasures, they too generally rest contented with barely knowledge enough to transact the common affairs of life. There are not a few instances, however, in this state, in which genius has been united with application, and the effects of their union have been happily experienced, not only by this state, but by the United States.
The wealth produced by the labor of the slaves, furnishes their proprietors with the means of hospitality; and no people in the world use these means with more liberality. Many of the inhabitants spare no pains nor expence in giving the highest polish of education to their children, by enabling them to travel, and by other means unattainable to those who have but moderate fortunes.
Mode of Levying Taxes.] There is a general impost of 3 per cent. and other imposts varying from 3 to 10 per cent. payable on the importation of merchandize from foreign countries. The great bulk of the revenue of the state, is raised by a tax on lands and negroes. ... The collection of taxes is not annexed to the office of sheriff, but is committed to particular gentlemen appointed for that purpose.
Estimate of Damages sustained in the late War.] The damages which this state sustained in the late war are thus estimated. The two entire crops of 1780 and 1781, both of which were used by the British--The crop of 1782 taken by the Americans--About 25,000 negroes--Many thousands of pounds worth of plate, and houshold furniture in abundance.--The villages of George-town and Camden burnt--The loss to the citizens directly by the plunderings and devastations of the British army--and indirectly by American impressments, and by the depreciation of the paper currency, together with the heavy debt of 1,200,000 pound sterling, incurred for the support of the war, in one aggregate view, make the price of independance to South Carolina, exclusive of the blood of its citizens, upwards of 3,000,000 pound sterling. [What happened to the 25,000 negroes?]
Commerce.] The little attention that is paid to manufactures occasions a vast consumption of foreign imported articles; but the quantities and value of their exports generally leave a balance in favour of the state, except when there are large importations of negroes. ...
The following 'abstract' from a gentleman accurately informed on the subject, contains much useful information, and demands a place under this head. [If you understand these numbers relating South Carolina's debt and the importation of slaves, please summarize it for us.]
GENERAL ABSTRACT of the DEBT of the State of SOUTH CAROLINA, from 1st January, 1783, to 1st January, 1787, both inclusive.
[Reduce image size, if necessary, to view the two parts of the table side-by-side.]
Statement of the supposed future trade of the state (allowing an annual importation of 1000 negroes) to shew the period of time necessary for the extinguishment of the private debts of the State, on the foregoing principles.
[Reduce image size, if necessary, to view the two parts of the table side-by-side.]
The balance of 500,000 pound sterling is the supposed amount of the foreign private debt of this state at the commencement of the late war.
The foregoing calculations were made during the period the instalment act was in progress in the legislature, and is more unfavourable to the state of the debt, than any other that was produced at that time, except some that were calculated with a view to extend the instalments as far as possible; but as the importation of negroes is prohibited for three years, the balance of debt at the end of that time, say March 1790, will be reduced to 580,093 pound sterling.
Chief Towns.] ...
SAVANNAH, the former capital of Georgia, stands on a high sandy bluff, on the south side of the river of the same name, and 17 miles from its mouth. The town is regularly built in the form of a parallellogram, and, including its suburbs, contains 227 dwelling-houses, one Episcopal church, a German Lutheran church, a Presbyterian church, a Synagogue, and Court-house. The number of its inhabitants, exclusive of the blacks, amount to about 830, seventy of whom are Jews.
Commerce, manufactures and agriculture.] The chief articles of export from this state are rice, tobacco, indigo, sago, lumber of various kinds, naval stores, leather, deer skins, snake root, myrtle, bees wax, corn, live stock, &c. ...
The people in the lower part of this state manufacture none of their own clothing for themselves or their negroes. For almost every article of their wearing apparel, as well as for their husbandry tools, they depend on their merchants, who import them from Great-Britain and the northern states. In the upper part of the country, however, the inhabitants manufacture the chief part of their clothing from cotton and from flax.
Population, Character, Manners, &c.] No actual census of the inhabitants of this state has been taken since the war. Population, since the peace of 1783, has increased with a surprising rapidity. It is conjectured that emigrations from Europe, the northern states, but principally from the back parts of Virginia, and the North and South Carolinas, have more than tripled the number of inhabitants in the last six years. From the most probable calculations there are, exclusive of Indians, upwards of 40,000 inhabitants in Georgia, of whom one third part at least are slaves. [The census of 1791, given at the bottom, shows a total population of 82,546, with about 35% of them slaves.]
In the grand convention at Philadelphia, in 1787, the inhabitants of this state were reckoned at 90,000, including three-fifths of 20,000 negroes. But from the number of militia, which has been ascertained with a considerable degree of accuracy, there cannot be at most, more than half that number.
No general character will apply to the inhabitants at large. Collected from different parts of the world, as interest, necessity or inclination led them, their character and manners must of course partake of all the varieties, which distinguish the several states and kingdoms from whence they came. There is so little uniformity, that it is difficult to trace any governing principles among them. An aversion to labour is too predominant, owing in part to the relaxing heat of the climate, and partly to the want of necessity to excite industry. An open and friendly hospitality, particularly to strangers, is an ornamental characteristic of a great part of this people.
History.] The settlement of a colony between the rivers Savannah and Alatamaha, was meditated in England in 1732, for the accommodation of poor people in Great-Britain and Ireland, and for the further security of Carolina. ...
In the mean time [latter 1732, while the settlers sailed for Georgia] the trustees for Georgia had been employed in framing a plan of settlement, and establishing such public regulations as they judged most proper for answering the great end of the corporation. ... Each tract of land granted was considered as a military fief, for which the possesser was to appear in arms, and take the field, when called upon for the public defence. To prevent large tracts from falling in process of time into one hand, they agreed to grant their lands in tail male in preference to tail in general. ... The use of negroes was to be absolutely prohibited, and also the importation of rum. None of the colonists were to be permitted to trade with Indians, but such as should obtain a special licence for that purpose. ...
These were some of the fundamental regulations established by the trustees of Georgia, and perhaps the imagination of man could scarcely have framed a system of rules worse-adapted to the circumstances and situation of the poor settlers, and of more pernicious consequence to the prosperity of the province. Yet, although the trustees were greatly mistaken, with respect to their plan of settlement, it must be acknowledged their views were generous. As the people sent out by them were the poor and unfortunate, who were to be provided with necessaries at their public store, they received their lands upon condition of cultivation, and, by their personal residence, of defence.
Silk and wine being the chief articles in tended to be raised, they judged negroes were not requisite to these purposes. As the colony was designed to be a barrier to South- Carolina, against the Spanish settlement at Augustine, they imagined that negroes would rather weaken than strengthen it, and that such poor colonists would run in debt, and ruin themselves by purchasing them. Rum was judged pernicious to health,and ruinous to the infant settlement. A free trade with Indians was considered as a thing that might have a tendency to involve the people in quarrels and troubles with the powerful savages, and expose them to danger and destruction.
Such were, probably, the motives which induced those humane and generous persons to impose such foolish and ridiculous restrictions on their colony. For by granting their small estates in tail male, they drove the settlers from Georgia, who soon found that abundance of lands could be obtained in America upon a larger scale, and on much better terms. By the prohibition of negroes, they rendered it impracticable in such a climate to make any impression on the thick forests, Europeans being utterly unqualified for the heavy task. [Hmmm...] By their discharging a trade with the west-Indies, they not only deprived the colonists of an excellent and convenient market for their lumber, of which they had abundance on their lands, but also of rum, which, when mixed with a sufficient quantity of water, has been found in experience the cheapest, the most refreshing, and nourishing drink for workmen in such a foggy and burning climate. [Again, I say, hmmm...]
The trustees, like other distant legislators, who framed their regulations upon principles of speculation, were liable to many errors and mistakes, and how ever good their design, their rules were found improper and impracticable. The Carolinians plainly perceived that they would prove insurmountable obstacles to the progress and prosperity of the colony, and therefore from motives of pity began to invite the poor Georgians to come over Savannah river, and settle in Carolina; being, convinced that they could never succeed under such impolitic and oppressive restrictions.
Population.] It is impossible to tell the exact population of this country. Mr. Hutchins, the geographer of the United States, who is the best acquainted with the country, estimates them at about 6000 souls, exclusive of Indians. This number is made up of French, English emigrants from the original states, and negroes.
Government, &c.] By an ordinance of Congress, passed on the 13th of July, 1787, this country, for the purpose of temporary government, was erected into one district, subject, however to a division, when circumstances shall make it expedient. ...
'It is hearby ordained and declared by the authority aforesaid, That the following articles shall be confidered articles of compact, between the original states and the people, and states in the same territory, and for ever remain unalterable, unless common consent, to wit: ...
Article 6th. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: Provided always, that any person escaping into the same, from whom labour or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original states, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labour or service as aforesaid.' ...
Such is the present government of the Western Territory, and such the political obligations of the adventurers into this fertile and delightful part of the United States.
Inhabitants, character and government.] The present inhabitants of Mexico may be divided into whites, Indians and negroes. ...
The blacks here, like those in other parts of the world, are stubborn, robust and hardy, and as well adapted for the gross and inhuman slavery they endure, as any human beings. This may serve for the general character, not only of the Mexicans, but for the greater part of the Spanish colonies in South America.
Climate, soil and productions.] ...
Among the natural merchandize of Terra Firma [corresponds to modern Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama.], the pearls found on the coast, particularly in the bay of Panama, are not the least considerable. An immense number of negroe slaves are employed in fishing for these, and have arrived at a wonderful dexterity in this occupation. They are sometimes, however devoured by sharks, while they dive to the bottom, or are crushed against the shelves of the rocks.
History.] This part of South America was discovered by Columbus, in his third voyage to this continent. It was subdued and settled by the Spaniards about the year 1514, after destroying, with great inhumanity, several millions of the natives. This country was called Terra Firma, on account of its being the first part of the continent which was discovered, all the lands discovered previous to this being islands.
AFRICA is situated south of Europe, and surrounded on all sides by the sea, except a narrow neck of land about 60 miles over, called the Isthmus of Suez, which joins it to Asia at the north end of the Red Sea. Africa is about 4300 miles in length, and 3500 in breadth and lies chiefly in the torrid zone, the equator running through the middle of it. Here once dwelt the queen of Sheba, who, on paying a visit to the magnificent king Solomon, stood amazed at his wisdom and the glory of his court. Here we find a race of people quite black, supposed so be descendants of Ham. Africa will be considered under the 7 following divisions:
1 Egypt, 5 Guinea, 2 Barbary, 6 Ethiopia, 3 Zaara or the Desert, 7 The African Islands. 4 Negroland,
THIS country lies south of Zaara; 2300 miles long, and 700 broad. The air is very hot, but wholesome. The soil is fertile, especially near the river Niger, which runs through the country from east to west, and overflows at a certain time of the year like the Nile. The commodities of this country are gold, slaves, elephants-teeth, bees-wax, and some drugs. There is a well here, whose water is as sweet as ordinary sugar. The Negroes are an uncivilized, ignorant, crafty, robust people. Their colour is deep black, their hair short, like wool, flat noses, thick lips, and white, even teeth. The Negroes are governed by a number of absolute princes. The inhabitants are mostly pagans and idolaters.
GUINEA lies south of Negroland, 1800 miles long, 600 broad. The soil is preferable to that of Negroland. The inhabitants are more courteous and sensible; in other respects the difference is immaterial. The greater part of the poor Negroes in the West-Indies and the southern states, were brought from these two countries.
AT the mouth of the Red Sea; is the island that sailors now call Socrata [Suqutra], famous for its aloes, which are esteemed the best in the world. Sailing down, southward, we come to the island Madagascar, or Lawrence, abounding in cattle and corn, and most of the necessaries of life, but no sufficient merchandize to induce Europeans to settle colonies; it has several petty savage kings of its own, both Arabs and Negroes, who making war on each other, sell their prisoners for slaves to the shipping which call here, taking clothes, utensils and other necessaries in return.
'THE varieties among the human race, says Dr. Percival, enumerated by Linnaeus, and Buffon, are six. The first is found under the polar regions, and comprehends the Laplanders, the Esqimaux Indians, the Samoeid Tartars, the inhabitants of Nova Zembla, the Borandians, the Greenlanders, and the people of Kamschatka. ...
The Tartar race, comprehending the Chinese, and the Japanese, forms the second variety in the human species. ...
The third variety of mankind is that of the southern Asiatics, or the inhabitants of India. ...
The negroes of Africa constitute the fourth striking variety in the human species: But they differ widely from each other; those of Guinea, for instance, are extremely ugly, and have an insupportably offensive scent; while those of Mosambique are reckoned beautiful, and are untainted with any disagreeable smell. The negroes are, in general, of a black colour; and the downy softness of hair which grows upon the skin, gives a smoothness to it, resembling that of velvet. The hair of their heads is woolly, short and black; but their beards often turn grey, and sometimes white. Their noses are flat and short, their lips thick and tumid, and their teeth of an ivory whiteness.
The intellectual and moral powers of these wretched people are uncultivated; and they are subject to the most barbarous despotism. The savage tyrants who rule over them, make war upon each other for human plunder! and the wretched victims, bartered for spiritous liquors, are torn from their families, their friends, and their native land, and consigned for life to misery, toil and bondage.
But how am I shocked to inform you, that this infernal commerce is carried on by the humane, the polished, the christian inhabitants of Europe; nay even by English men, whose ancestors have bled in the cause of liberty, and whose breasts still glow with the same generous flame! I cannot give you a more striking proof of the ideas of horror which the captive negroes entertain of the state of servitude they are to undergo, than by relating the following incident from Dr. Goldsmith,
'A Guinea captain was, by distress of weather, driven into a certain harbour, with a lading of sickly slaves, who took every opportunity to throw themselves over-board, when brought upon deck for the benefit of fresh air. The captain perceiving, among others, a female slave attempting to drown herself, pitched upon her as a proper example for the rest. As he supposed that they did not know the terrors attending death, he ordered the woman to be tied with a rope under the arm-pits, and let down into the water. When the poor creature was thus plunged in, and about halfway down, she was heard to give a terrible shriek, which at first was ascribed to her fears of drowning, but soon after, the water appeared red around her, she was drawn up, and it was found that a shark, which had followed the ship, had bitten her off from the middle.'
The native inhabitants of America make a fifth race of men. They are of a copper colour, have black, thick, straight hair, flat noses, high cheekbones, and small eyes. They paint the body and face of various colours, and eradicate the hair of their beards and other parts, as a deformity. Their limbs are not so large and robust as those of the Europeans. They endure hunger, thirst, and pain with astonishing firmness and patience; and though cruel to their enemies, they are kind and just to each other.
The Europeans may be considered as the last variety of the human kind. They enjoy singular advantages from the fairness of their complexions. The face of the African Black, or of the olive-coloured Asiatic, is a very imperfect index of the mind, and preserves the same settled shade in joy and sorrow, confidence and shame, anger and despair, sickness and health. The English are said to be of the fairest of the Europeans; and we may therefore presume, that their countenances best express the variations of the passions and vicissitudes of disease. But the intellectual and moral characteristics of the different nations, which compose this quarter are of much importance to be known. These, however, become gradually less discernible, as fashion, learning, and commerce prevail more universally.
Of the whole Number of Persons within the several Districts of the UNITED STATES, according to an Act "Providing for the Enumeration of the Inhabitants of the UNITED STATES," passed March the First, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-one.
Truly stated from the original returns deposited in the office of the Secretary of State.
October 24, 1791.
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