The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America Part 12

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In vain did men like Madison disclaim all thought of unconst.i.tutional “interference,” and express only a desire to see “If anything is within the Federal authority to restrain such violation of the rights of nations and of mankind, as is supposed to be practised in some parts of the United States.” A storm of disapproval from Southern members met such sentiments. “The rights of the Southern States ought not to be threatened,” said Burke of South Carolina. “Any extraordinary attention of Congress to this pet.i.tion,” averred Jackson of Georgia, would put slave property “in jeopardy,” and “evince to the people a disposition towards a total emanc.i.p.ation.” Smith and Tucker of South Carolina declared that the request asked for “unconst.i.tutional” measures. Gerry of Ma.s.sachusetts, Hartley of Pennsylvania, and Lawrence of New York rather mildly defended the pet.i.tioners; but after considerable further debate the matter was laid on the table.

The very next day, however, the laid ghost walked again in the shape of another pet.i.tion from the “Pennsylvania Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery,” signed by its venerable president, Benjamin Franklin. This pet.i.tion asked Congress to “step to the very verge of the power vested in you for discouraging every species of traffic in the persons of our fellow-men.”[25] Hartley of Pennsylvania called up the memorial of the preceding day, and it was read a second time and a motion for commitment made. Plain words now came from Tucker of South Carolina. “The pet.i.tion,” he said, “contained an unconst.i.tutional request.” The commitment would alarm the South. These pet.i.tions were “mischievous” attempts to imbue the slaves with false hopes. The South would not submit to a general emanc.i.p.ation without “civil war.” The commitment would “blow the trumpet of sedition in the Southern States,”

echoed his colleague, Burke. The Pennsylvania men spoke just as boldly.

Scott declared the pet.i.tion const.i.tutional, and was sorry that the Const.i.tution did not interdict this “most abominable” traffic. “Perhaps, in our Legislative capacity,” he said, “we can go no further than to impose a duty of ten dollars, but I do not know how far I might go if I was one of the Judges of the United States, and those people were to come before me and claim their emanc.i.p.ation; but I am sure I would go as far as I could.” Jackson of Georgia rejoined in true Southern spirit, boldly defending slavery in the light of religion and history, and asking if it was “good policy to bring forward a business at this moment likely to light up the flame of civil discord; for the people of the Southern States will resist one tyranny as soon as another. The other parts of the Continent may bear them down by force of arms, but they will never suffer themselves to be divested of their property without a struggle. The gentleman says, if he was a Federal Judge, he does not know to what length he would go in emanc.i.p.ating these people; but I believe his judgment would be of short duration in Georgia, perhaps even the existence of such a Judge might be in danger.” Baldwin, his New-England-born colleague, urged moderation by reciting the difficulty with which the const.i.tutional compromise was reached, and declaring, “the moment we go to jostle on that ground, I fear we shall feel it tremble under our feet.” Lawrence of New York wanted to commit the memorials, in order to see how far Congress might const.i.tutionally interfere. Smith of South Carolina, in a long speech, said that his const.i.tuents entered the Union “from political, not from moral motives,”

and that “we look upon this measure as an attack upon the palladium of the property of our country.” Page of Virginia, although a slave owner, urged commitment, and Madison again maintained the appropriateness of the request, and suggested that “regulations might be made in relation to the introduction of them [i.e., slaves] into the new States to be formed out of the Western Territory.” Even conservative Gerry of Ma.s.sachusetts declared, with regard to the whole trade, that the fact that “we have a right to regulate this business, is as clear as that we have any rights whatever.”

Finally, by a vote of 43 to 11, the memorials were committed, the South Carolina and Georgia delegations, Bland and Coles of Virginia, Stone of Maryland, and Sylvester of New York voting in the negative.[26] A committee, consisting of Foster of New Hampshire, Huntington of Connecticut, Gerry of Ma.s.sachusetts, Lawrence of New York, Sinnickson of New Jersey, Hartley of Pennsylvania, and Parker of Virginia, was charged with the matter, and reported Friday, March 5. The absence of Southern members on this committee compelled it to make this report a sort of official manifesto on the aims of Northern anti-slavery politics. As such, it was sure to meet with vehement opposition in the House, even though conservatively worded. Such proved to be the fact when the committee reported. The onslaught to “negative the whole report” was prolonged and bitter, the debate _pro_ and _con_ lasting several days.[27]

46. ~The Declaration of Powers, 1790.~ The result is best seen by comparing the original report with the report of the Committee of the Whole, adopted by a vote of 29 to 25 Monday, March 23, 1790:[28]–

REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE.

That, from the nature of the matters contained in these memorials, they were induced to examine the powers vested in Congress, under the present Const.i.tution, relating to the Abolition of Slavery, and are clearly of opinion,

_First._ That the General Government is expressly restrained from prohibiting the importation of such persons ‘as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, until the year one thousand eight hundred and eight.’

_Secondly._ That Congress, by a fair construction of the Const.i.tution, are equally restrained from interfering in the emanc.i.p.ation of slaves, who already are, or who may, within the period mentioned, be imported into, or born within, any of the said States.

_Thirdly._ That Congress have no authority to interfere in the internal regulations of particular States, relative to the instructions of slaves in the principles of morality and religion; to their comfortable clothing, accommodations, and subsistence; to the regulation of their marriages, and the prevention of the violation of the rights thereof, or to the separation of children from their parents; to a comfortable provision in cases of sickness, age, or infirmity; or to the seizure, transportation, or sale of free negroes; but have the fullest confidence in the wisdom and humanity of the Legislatures of the several States, that they will revise their laws from time to time, when necessary, and promote the objects mentioned in the memorials, and every other measure that may tend to the happiness of slaves.

_Fourthly._ That, nevertheless, Congress have authority, if they shall think it necessary, to lay at any time a tax or duty, not exceeding ten dollars for each person of any description, the importation of whom shall be by any of the States admitted as aforesaid.

_Fifthly._ That Congress have authority to interdict,[29] or (so far as it is or may be carried on by citizens of the United States, for supplying foreigners), to regulate the African trade, and to make provision for the humane treatment of slaves, in all cases while on their pa.s.sage to the United States, or to foreign ports, so far as respects the citizens of the United States.

_Sixthly._ That Congress have also authority to prohibit foreigners from fitting out vessels in any port of the United States, for transporting persons from Africa to any foreign port.

_Seventhly._ That the memorialists be informed, that in all cases to which the authority of Congress extends, they will exercise it for the humane objects of the memorialists, so far as they can be promoted on the principles of justice, humanity, and good policy.

REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE.

_First._ That the migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, cannot be prohibited by Congress, prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight.

_Secondly._ That Congress have no authority to interfere in the emanc.i.p.ation of slaves, or in the treatment of them within any of the States; it remaining with the several States alone to provide any regulation therein, which humanity and true policy may require.

_Thirdly._ That Congress have authority to restrain the citizens of the United States from carrying on the African trade, for the purpose of supplying foreigners with slaves, and of providing, by proper regulations, for the humane treatment, during their pa.s.sage, of slaves imported by the said citizens into the States admitting such importation.

_Fourthly._ That Congress have authority to prohibit foreigners from fitting out vessels in any port of the United States for transporting persons from Africa to any foreign port.

47. ~The Act of 1794.~ This declaration of the powers of the central government over the slave-trade bore early fruit in the second Congress, in the shape of a shower of pet.i.tions from abolition societies in Ma.s.sachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.[30] In some of these slavery was denounced as “an outrageous violation of one of the most essential rights of human nature,”[31] and the slave-trade as a traffic “degrading to the rights of man” and “repugnant to reason.”[32] Others declared the trade “injurious to the true commercial interest of a nation,”[33] and asked Congress that, having taken up the matter, they do all in their power to limit the trade. Congress was, however, determined to avoid as long as possible so unpleasant a matter, and, save an angry attempt to censure a Quaker pet.i.tioner,[34] nothing was heard of the slave-trade until the third Congress.

Meantime, news came from the seas southeast of Carolina and Georgia which influenced Congress more powerfully than humanitarian arguments had done. The wild revolt of despised slaves, the rise of a n.o.ble black leader, and the birth of a new nation of Negro freemen frightened the pro-slavery advocates and armed the anti-slavery agitation. As a result, a Quaker pet.i.tion for a law against the transport traffic in slaves was received without a murmur in 1794,[35] and on March 22 the first national act against the slave-trade became a law.[36] It was designed “to prohibit the carrying on the Slave Trade from the United States to any foreign place or country,” or the fitting out of slavers in the United States for that country. The penalties for violation were forfeiture of the ship, a fine of $1000 for each person engaged, and of $200 for each slave transported. If the Quakers thought this a triumph of anti-slavery sentiment, they were quickly undeceived. Congress might willingly restrain the country from feeding West Indian turbulence, and yet be furious at a pet.i.tion like that of 1797,[37] calling attention to “the oppressed state of our brethren of the African race” in this country, and to the interstate slave-trade. “Considering the present extraordinary state of the West India Islands and of Europe,” young John Rutledge insisted “that ‘sufficient for the day is the evil thereof,’

and that they ought to shut their door against any thing which had a tendency to produce the like confusion in this country.” After excited debate and some investigation by a special committee, the pet.i.tion was ordered, in both Senate and House, to be withdrawn.

48. ~The Act of 1800.~ In the next Congress, the sixth, another pet.i.tion threw the House into paroxysms of slavery debate. Waln of Pennsylvania presented the pet.i.tion of certain free colored men of Pennsylvania praying for a revision of the slave-trade laws and of the fugitive-slave law, and for prospective emanc.i.p.ation.[38] Waln moved the reference of this memorial to a committee already appointed on the revision of the loosely drawn and poorly enforced Act of 1794.[39] Rutledge of South Carolina immediately arose. He opposed the motion, saying, that these pet.i.tions were continually coming in and stirring up discord; that it was a good thing the Negroes were in slavery; and that already “too much of this new-fangled French philosophy of liberty and equality” had found its way among them. Others defended the right of pet.i.tion, and declared that none wished Congress to exceed its powers. Brown of Rhode Island, a new figure in Congress, a man of distinguished services and from a well-known family, boldly set forth the commercial philosophy of his State. “We want money,” said he, “we want a navy; we ought therefore to use the means to obtain it. We ought to go farther than has yet been proposed, and repeal the bills in question altogether, for why should we see Great Britain getting all the slave trade to themselves; why may not our country be enriched by that lucrative traffic? There would not be a slave the more sold, but we should derive the benefits by importing from Africa as well as that nation.” Waln, in reply, contended that they should look into “the slave trade, much of which was still carrying on from Rhode Island, Boston and Pennsylvania.” Hill of North Carolina called the House back from this general discussion to the pet.i.tion in question, and, while willing to remedy any existing defect in the Act of 1794, hoped the pet.i.tion would not be received. Dana of Connecticut declared that the paper “contained nothing but a farrago of the French metaphysics of liberty and equality;” and that “it was likely to produce some of the dreadful scenes of St. Domingo.” The next day Rutledge again warned the House against even discussing the matter, as “very serious, nay, dreadful effects, must be the inevitable consequence.” He held up the most lurid pictures of the fatuity of the French Convention in listening to the overtures of the “three emissaries from St. Domingo,”

and thus yielding “one of the finest islands in the world” to “scenes which had never been practised since the destruction of Carthage.” “But, sir,” he continued, “we have lived to see these dreadful scenes. These horrid effects have succeeded what was conceived once to be trifling.

Most important consequences may be the result, although gentlemen little apprehend it. But we know the situation of things there, although they do not, and knowing we deprecate it. There have been emissaries amongst us in the Southern States; they have begun their war upon us; an actual organization has commenced; we have had them meeting in their club rooms, and debating on that subject…. Sir, I do believe that persons have been sent from France to feel the pulse of this country, to know whether these [i.e., the Negroes] are the proper engines to make use of: these people have been talked to; they have been tampered with, and this is going on.”

Finally, after censuring certain parts of this Negro pet.i.tion, Congress committed the part on the slave-trade to the committee already appointed. Meantime, the Senate sent down a bill to amend the Act of 1794, and the House took this bill under consideration.[40] Prolonged debate ensued. Brown of Rhode Island again made a most elaborate plea for throwing open the foreign slave-trade. Negroes, he said, bettered their condition by being enslaved, and thus it was morally wrong and commercially indefensible to impose “a heavy fine and imprisonment …

for carrying on a trade so advantageous;” or, if the trade must be stopped, then equalize the matter and abolish slavery too. Nichols of Virginia thought that surely the gentlemen would not advise the importation of more Negroes; for while it “was a fact, to be sure,” that they would thus improve their condition, “would it be policy so to do?”

Bayard of Delaware said that “a more dishonorable item of revenue” than that derived from the slave-trade “could not be established.” Rutledge opposed the new bill as defective and impracticable: the former act, he said, was enough; the States had stopped the trade, and in addition the United States had sought to placate philanthropists by stopping the use of our ships in the trade. “This was going very far indeed.” New England first began the trade, and why not let them enjoy its profits now as well as the English? The trade could not be stopped.

The bill was eventually recommitted and reported again.[41] “On the question for its pa.s.sing, a long and warm debate ensued,” and several attempts to postpone it were made; it finally pa.s.sed, however, only Brown of Rhode Island, Dent of Maryland, Rutledge and Huger of South Carolina, and d.i.c.kson of North Carolina voting against it, and 67 voting for it.[42] This Act of May 10, 1800,[43] greatly strengthened the Act of 1794. The earlier act had prohibited citizens from equipping slavers for the foreign trade; but this went so far as to forbid them having any interest, direct or indirect, in such voyages, or serving on board slave-ships in any capacity. Imprisonment for two years was added to the former fine of $2000, and United States commissioned ships were directed to capture such slavers as prizes. The slaves though forfeited by the owner, were not to go to the captor; and the act omitted to say what disposition should be made of them.

49. ~The Act of 1803.~ The Haytian revolt, having been among the main causes of two laws, soon was the direct instigation to a third. The frightened feeling in the South, when freedmen from the West Indies began to arrive in various ports, may well be imagined. On January 17, 1803, the town of Wilmington, North Carolina, hastily memorialized Congress, stating the arrival of certain freed Negroes from Guadeloupe, and apprehending “much danger to the peace and safety of the people of the Southern States of the Union” from the “admission of persons of that description into the United States.”[44] The House committee which considered this pet.i.tion hastened to agree “That the system of policy stated in the said memorial to exist, and to be now pursued in the French colonial government, of the West Indies, is fraught with danger to the peace and safety of the United States. That the fact stated to have occurred in the prosecution of that system of policy, demands the prompt interference of the Government of the United States, as well Legislative as Executive.”[45] The result was a bill providing for the forfeiture of any ship which should bring into States prohibiting the same “any negro, mulatto, or other person of color;” the captain of the ship was also to be punished. After some opposition[46] the bill became a law, February 28, 1803.[47]

50. ~State of the Slave-Trade from 1789 to 1803.~ Meantime, in spite of the prohibitory State laws, the African slave-trade to the United States continued to flourish. It was notorious that New England traders carried on a large traffic.[48] Members stated on the floor of the House that “it was much to be regretted that the severe and pointed statute against the slave trade had been so little regarded. In defiance of its forbiddance and its penalties, it was well known that citizens and vessels of the United States were still engaged in that traffic…. In various parts of the nation, outfits were made for slave-voyages, without secrecy, shame, or apprehension…. Countenanced by their fellow-citizens at home, who were as ready to buy as they themselves were to collect and to bring to market, they approached our Southern harbors and inlets, and clandestinely disembarked the sooty offspring of the Eastern, upon the ill fated soil of the Western hemisphere. In this way, it had been computed that, during the last twelve months, twenty thousand enslaved negroes had been transported from Guinea, and, by smuggling, added to the plantation stock of Georgia and South Carolina.

So little respect seems to have been paid to the existing prohibitory statute, that it may almost be considered as disregarded by common consent.”[49]

These voyages were generally made under the flag of a foreign nation, and often the vessel was sold in a foreign port to escape confiscation.

South Carolina’s own Congressman confessed that although the State had prohibited the trade since 1788, she “was unable to enforce” her laws.

“With navigable rivers running into the heart of it,” said he, “it was impossible, with our means, to prevent our Eastern brethren, who, in some parts of the Union, in defiance of the authority of the General Government, have been engaged in this trade, from introducing them into the country. The law was completely evaded, and, for the last year or two [1802-3], Africans were introduced into the country in numbers little short, I believe, of what they would have been had the trade been a legal one.”[50] The same tale undoubtedly might have been told of Georgia.

51. ~The South Carolina Repeal of 1803.~ This vast and apparently irrepressible illicit traffic was one of three causes which led South Carolina, December 17, 1803, to throw aside all pretence and legalize her growing slave-trade; the other two causes were the growing certainty of total prohibition of the traffic in 1808, and the recent purchase of Louisiana by the United States, with its vast prospective demand for slave labor. Such a combination of advantages, which meant fortunes to planters and Charleston slave-merchants, could not longer be withheld from them; the prohibition was repealed, and the United States became again, for the first time in at least five years, a legal slave mart.

This action shocked the nation, frightening Southern States with visions of an influx of untrained barbarians and servile insurrections, and arousing and intensifying the anti-slavery feeling of the North, which had long since come to think of the trade, so far as legal enactment went, as a thing of the past.

Scarcely a month after this repeal, Bard of Pennsylvania solemnly addressed Congress on the matter. “For many reasons,” said he, “this House must have been justly surprised by a recent measure of one of the Southern States. The impressions, however, which that measure gave my mind, were deep and painful. Had I been informed that some formidable foreign Power had invaded our country, I would not, I ought not, be more alarmed than on hearing that South Carolina had repealed her law prohibiting the importation of slaves…. Our hands are tied, and we are obliged to stand confounded, while we see the flood-gate opened, and pouring incalculable miseries into our country.”[51] He then moved, as the utmost legal measure, a tax of ten dollars per head on slaves imported.

Debate on this proposition did not occur until February 14, when Lowndes explained the circ.u.mstances of the repeal, and a long controversy took place.[52] Those in favor of the tax argued that the trade was wrong, and that the tax would serve as some slight check; the tax was not inequitable, for if a State did not wish to bear it she had only to prohibit the trade; the tax would add to the revenue, and be at the same time a moral protest against an unjust and dangerous traffic. Against this it was argued that if the tax furnished a revenue it would defeat its own object, and make prohibition more difficult in 1808; it was inequitable, because it was aimed against one State, and would fall exclusively on agriculture; it would give national sanction to the trade; it would look “like an attempt in the General Government to correct a State for the undisputed exercise of its const.i.tutional powers;” the revenue would be inconsiderable, and the United States had nothing to do with the moral principle; while a prohibitory tax would be defensible, a small tax like this would be useless as a protection and criminal as a revenue measure.

The whole debate hinged on the expediency of the measure, few defending South Carolina’s action.[53] Finally, a bill was ordered to be brought in, which was done on the 17th.[54] Another long debate took place, covering substantially the same ground. It was several times hinted that if the matter were dropped South Carolina might again prohibit the trade. This, and the vehement opposition, at last resulted in the postponement of the bill, and it was not heard from again during the session.

52. ~The Louisiana Slave-Trade, 1803-1805.~ About this time the cession of Louisiana brought before Congress the question of the status of slavery and the slave-trade in the Territories. Twice or thrice before had the subject called for attention. The first time was in the Congress of the Confederation, when, by the Ordinance of 1787,[55] both slavery and the slave-trade were excluded from the Northwest Territory. In 1790 Congress had accepted the cession of North Carolina back lands on the express condition that slavery there be undisturbed.[56] Nothing had been said as to slavery in the South Carolina cession (1787),[57] but it was tacitly understood that the provision of the Northwest Ordinance would not be applied. In 1798 the bill introduced for the cession of Mississippi contained a specific declaration that the anti-slavery clause of 1787 should not be included.[58] The bill pa.s.sed the Senate, but caused long and excited debate in the House.[59] It was argued, on the one hand, that the case in Mississippi was different from that in the Northwest Territory, because slavery was a legal inst.i.tution in all the surrounding country, and to prohibit the inst.i.tution was virtually to prohibit the settling of the country. On the other hand, Gallatin declared that if this amendment should not obtain, “he knew not how slaves could be prevented from being introduced by way of New Orleans, by persons who are not citizens of the United States.” It was moved to strike out the excepting clause; but the motion received only twelve votes,–an apparent indication that Congress either did not appreciate the great precedent it was establishing, or was reprehensibly careless.

Harper of South Carolina then succeeded in building up the Charleston slave-trade interest by a section forbidding the slave traffic from “without the limits of the United States.” Thatcher moved to strike out the last clause of this amendment, and thus to prohibit the interstate trade, but he failed to get a second.[60] Thus the act pa.s.sed, punishing the introduction of slaves from without the country by a fine of $300 for each slave, and freeing the slave.[61]

In 1804 President Jefferson communicated papers to Congress on the status of slavery and the slave-trade in Louisiana.[62] The Spanish had allowed the traffic by edict in 1793, France had not stopped it, and Governor Claiborne had refrained from interference. A bill erecting a territorial government was already pending.[63] The Northern “District of Louisiana” was placed under the jurisdiction of Indiana Territory, and was made subject to the provisions of the Ordinance of 1787. Various attempts were made to amend the part of the bill referring to the Southern Territory: first, so as completely to prohibit the slave-trade;[64] then to compel the emanc.i.p.ation at a certain age of all those imported;[65] next, to confine all importation to that from the States;[66] and, finally, to limit it further to slaves imported before South Carolina opened her ports.[67] The last two amendments prevailed, and the final act also extended to the Territory the Acts of 1794 and 1803. Only slaves imported before May 1, 1798, could be introduced, and those must be slaves of actual settlers.[68] All slaves illegally imported were freed.

This stringent act was limited to one year. The next year, in accordance with the urgent pet.i.tion of the inhabitants, a bill was introduced against these restrictions.[69] By dexterous wording, this bill, which became a law March 2, 1805,[70] swept away all restrictions upon the slave-trade except that relating to foreign ports, and left even this provision so ambiguous that, later, by judicial interpretation of the law,[71] the foreign slave-trade was allowed, at least for a time.

Such a stream of slaves now poured into the new Territory that the following year a committee on the matter was appointed by the House.[72]

The committee reported that they “are in possession of the fact, that African slaves, lately imported into Charleston, have been thence conveyed into the territory of Orleans, and, in their opinion, this practice will be continued to a very great extent, while there is no law to prevent it.”[73] The House ordered a bill checking this to be prepared; and such a bill was reported, but was soon dropped.[74]

Importations into South Carolina during this time reached enormous proportions. Senator Smith of that State declared from official returns that, between 1803 and 1807, 39,075 Negroes were imported into Charleston, most of whom went to the Territories.[75]

53. ~Last Attempts at Taxation, 1805-1806.~ So alarming did the trade become that North Carolina pa.s.sed a resolution in December, 1804,[76]

proposing that the States give Congress power to prohibit the trade.

Ma.s.sachusetts,[77] Vermont,[78] New Hampshire,[79] and Maryland[80]

responded; and a joint resolution was introduced in the House, proposing as an amendment to the Const.i.tution “That the Congress of the United States shall have power to prevent the further importation of slaves into the United States and the Territories thereof.”[81] Nothing came of this effort; but meantime the project of taxation was revived. A motion to this effect, made in February, 1805, was referred to a Committee of the Whole, but was not discussed. Early in the first session of the ninth Congress the motion of 1805 was renewed; and although again postponed on the a.s.surance that South Carolina was about to stop the trade,[82] it finally came up for debate January 20, 1806.[83] Then occurred a most stubborn legislative battle, which lasted during the whole session.[84] Several amendments to the motion were first introduced, so as to make it apply to all immigrants, and again to all “persons of color.” As in the former debate, it was proposed to subst.i.tute a resolution of censure on South Carolina. All these amendments were lost. A long debate on the expediency of the measure followed, on the old grounds. Early of Georgia dwelt especially on the double taxation it would impose on Georgia; others estimated that a revenue of one hundred thousand dollars might be derived from the tax, a sum sufficient to replace the tax on pepper and medicines. Angry charges and counter-charges were made,–e.g., that Georgia, though ashamed openly to avow the trade, partic.i.p.ated in it as well as South Carolina.

“Some recriminations ensued between several members, on the partic.i.p.ation of the traders of some of the New England States in carrying on the slave trade.” Finally, January 22, by a vote of 90 to 25, a tax bill was ordered to be brought in.[85] One was reported on the 27th.[86] Every sort of opposition was resorted to. On the one hand, attempts were made to amend it so as to prohibit importation after 1807, and to prevent importation into the Territories; on the other hand, attempts were made to recommit and postpone the measure. It finally got a third reading, but was recommitted to a select committee, and disappeared until February 14.[87] Being then amended so as to provide for the forfeiture of smuggled cargoes, but saying nothing as to the disposition of the slaves, it was again relegated to a committee, after a vote of 69 to 42 against postponement.[88] On March 4 it appeared again, and a motion to reject it was lost. Finally, in the midst of the war scare and the question of non-importation of British goods, the bill was apparently forgotten, and the last attempt to tax imported slaves ended, like the others, in failure.

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