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WHEREAS, I some time past published certain observations on the Slavery of the Africans and their descendants, and on the consumption of the produce of their labour, comprehended principally in nineteen Queries and Answers, the design of which was to impress on the minds of my friends and fellow-citizens, and others concerned, as far as might be, by fair reasoning, a full sense of the abhorent cruelty and unrighteousness of holding our fellow creatures in bondage, and wresting from them, by violence, the produce of their labour ; which being well received by many, and affording reason to hope they were profitable to some, I was induced to believe a second edition might be useful.
I have, therefore, revised the original, and endeavoured to compress it as much as the subjects would admit; and have added some quotations from an anonymous pamphlet, published some time since in England, which are so correspondent with the before mentioned observations, as to bave a tendency, in my opinion, to elucidate and enforce them.
I shall only add, as a farther apology for the present edition, that the evil still continues : that there are still slave holders, and consumers of the produce of the labour of slaves, wrested from them by violence.
And as the slave holder can have no moral right whatever to the man he styles his slave, nor to the produce of his labour, he cannot possibly convey any to a second person by any transfer he can make: for, having nothing but a criminal possession himself, he can convey nothing to a second person but the same possession : and should this possession be continued through a line of transfer to the twentieth person, still it would be nothing more than the same criminal possession that was vested in the first possessor, and would convey no moral right whatever. And should any other person come forward, and, by the same mode of violence and power that was exercised by the first pos. sessor, in reducing the man he styles his slave to the abject state of slavery, and by which he violently took from him the produce of his labour, forcibly take from such twentieth or more remote possessors, the slave and the produce of his labour, the right of such person, in point of equity, to such slave and the produce of his labour would be just equal to the right of such remote
possessor; as neither of them could have had any more than a criminal possession : and whether that possession is obtained by violence or by transfer, (if the person who receives it by transfer is informed of the criminal circumstance,) it can make no possible difference, except that one is protected by the indulgence of a partial law of the country we live in, and the other is not. By which undeniable proposition, it appears, that when any man becomes possessed of a slave, or the produce of his labour, wrested from him without his consent, whether it be by transfer or otherwise, any other person who has power so to do, may, by violence, take from such possessor, such slave and the produce of his labour : and when he has in that way obtained possession thereof, he has as good a right to such slave and to use the produce of his labour as the former; and the former can have no just cause to complain of such usage, as he is only paid in his own coin. For, although the first possessor committed the act of violence, when he took from the man he styles his slave his liberty, and compelled him to work, and by the same cruel force, took from him the produce of his labour ; yet, every purchaser of such slave and the produce of his labour, if he is apprized of the criminal circumstance attending it, is as guilty as the first perpetrator: and should such slave and the produce of his labour pass through the hands of twenty persons, all knowing at the time of transfer the criminal circumstances attending, each would be guilty of the entire crime of the first perpetrator. This being assented to, and I conceive it is incontrovertible, I have a hope that this edition may produce a good effect, and tend to raise up many more faithful advocates in the cause of this deeply oppressed people, who may be willing to suffer every necessary privation, rather than be guilty of the least thing that may, in any degree, possibly strengthen the hands of their oppressors. I therefore recommend this little treatise to the candid and impartial consideration of the reader, and subscribe myself his sincere friend,
The slavery of the Africans and their descendants, las become so established by long continuance, and the force of an unrighteous custom, that many persons consider the practice not only admissible, but consistent with justice and social order.
But I am led to doubt the possibility of any rational, moral person being thus circumstanced, unless he is first greatly blinded by selfishness and partiality; as I consider it a matter of fact, obviously clear to every rational, contemplative mind, that neither custom nor education, nor any law of men or nations, can alter the nature of justice and equity; which will and must, essentially and eternally, rest upon their own proper base, as laid down by the great Christian Lawgiver, viz. “Therefore, all things, whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Hence, I conceive, it is a most necessary and important christian duty, for all those who are either directly or indirectly concerned in the slavery of their fellow creatures, seriously and impartially to consider the manner and way in which the slavery of the Africans was first introduced ; and by what means it has been so long continued ; not doubting, but that every upright, impartial mind, by a full examination into the subject, will readily discover, that it was first introduced by fraud and force, and continued by an unjust and tyrannical power : and will, therefore, be induced to restore to them their just and native rights, as free men, which no law nor power of men or nations ought to deprive them of without their consent. It is generally acknowledged, by the people of every
enlightened country, and particularly by those who believe in revelation, as testified of in the Scriptures of Truth, that man is a moral agent, (that is, free to act, with the restriction of accountability to his Creator,) agreeably to the declaration of the prophet Ezekiel ; through whom, Jehovah, in his benignity and justice, claims the right of sovereignty over the children of men : “ All souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son!” This Scripture testimony, perfectly consonant with reason and justice, not only proves, that every man is to bear his own iniquity, but that he also stands fully indemnified thereby, from all the iniquity of his predecessors; and likewise fully establishes man's free agency: and, of course, proves, that every moral agent born into the world, (whatever the conduct and situation of his parents may have been) is born FREE: upon which undeniable truth, I shall found the following Queries and Answers :
Query 1. Were not the people of Africa, at the time when the Europeans first visited their coasts, a free people, possessed of the same natural and unalienable rights, as the people of any other nation ?
Answer. They certainly were: for, when the Europeans, whether by fraud or force, or by purchase from those who had stolen or taken them prisoners in war, became possessed of a number of the people of Africa, and by violence reduced them to the wretched and degraded state of Slaves; at the same time it would have been as right and as consistent with equity and moral justice, for the Africans to have done the same by them, had it been in their power: by which undeniable proposition, it is evident, that the slavery of the Africans is the product of mere power, without any possible plea of right: and that the same power of force, fraud, and tyrannical cruelty, that was exercised in reducing the people of Africa at first, to the miserable and wretched state of slaves, has, in like manner, in a continual state of war, been exercised on all the descendants