The Report of St. Bartholomew & l'abolition de la traite négrière

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N:o 19. Tuesday, the 21 Auguſt, 1804.

[Andrew Bergftedt, nominated and appointed the 7 February 1804, Juſtitiarius of the Iſland of St. Bartholomew, Secretary of the Records in His Majeſty's State Office.]

As a Singularity We may report, that ſome days paſt a party of Whites Gentlemen & Coloured Ladies had a Ball in this Iſland; No Coloured men were admitted. Whether this was a common frolich on the part of the Gentlemen, or a deliberated ſtep taken according to principles of Equality we cannot ſay; a King and Qween were choſen for next Ball, which has not yet taken place.
In perusing the English News Papers We have not as yet found, that the Bill for the abolition of the Slave Trade has paſt the Houſe of Lords; although we have been aſſured it has. How far it is conſiſtent to aboliſh the Slave Trade juſt after England has made acquiſition of Two Vaſt Colonies (Ceylon & Trinidad) , We leave to the judgement of Our betters; It occurs only to Us, that if the Colonies are not ſupplied with Slaves, they muſt at lenght be abandoned. - But on the other ſide it is also juſt, that rather than principles of humanity ſhould be violated, all the Colonies muſt be Sacrificed. England in caſe of abolition, as a kind Mother will naturally ſupport the Coloniſts, when they will be obliged to abandon theit Plantations for want of Slaves; and there - is the end of it.

N:o 20. Tuesday, the 28 Auguſt, 1804.

From the London Papers.

June, 13. The debate of yeſterday in the Commons, though the arguments were not fraught with novelty, was by no means devoid of intereſt. The Advocates for the Abolition of the Slave Trade had a majority of 79 to 20 and when the idea of compenſation to the Planters and Proprietors was ſuggeſted, Mr. Pitt obſerved that the conſent of the Crown and a ſpecific caſe of injury made out, muſt of neceſſity precede the entertaining of ſuch a demand.

July, 4. The Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was ye%u017Fterday diſcuſſed in the Houſe of Lords. The advanced period of the Seſſion was argued to ſhew the inexpediendy of any further proceeding. On the queſtion being put for the ſecond reading, it was deferred for three months without a diviſion ! The Bill is therefore loſt for the preſent Seſſion.

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St. Bartholomew 28 Auguſt 1804.

We are ſorry to learn that the reflexions we ventures in Our laſt number on the Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in the Britiſh Parliament have been ſo little underſtood by part of Our Readers, as to make them believe, that we plead for the Abolition. Nothing is more unfounded; and if Our Readers peruſe thoſe few lines more attentively, they will find in them every thing neceſſary to prove, that the abolition, if enacted, would be inconſiſtent, unjuſt, inhuman and cruel in regard to the Britiſh Colonies, and ruinous to them, no leſs than to England, unleſs it is decided, that the Colonies ſhall be ſupplied by other nations. At any rate we did not expect, that our Readers ſhould think us injudicious enough to beleive in the poſſibility of England Supporting the ruined Coloniſts, after ſhe ſhall have been exhauſted herſelf by the Loſs of the Weſt-India Trade.

The Bill, as Our Readers have already ſeen, has not paſt the Houſe of Lords; the Houſe has in memory no doubt, that France aboliſhed the Slave Trade and emancipated the Slaves, juſt when ſhe knew not herſelf to make a right uſe of her liberty - Our Sentiments in this behalf are beſt explained in the obſervation which the Lord Chancellor of England made to the Houſe of Lords at the Meeting of the 3 July on the ſaid Bill. viz.

“The many important intereſts and rights, both public and private, involved in this ſubject, demanded of the wiſdom of the Houſe to proceed with the moſt mature deliberation; public and private juſtice, as well as national policy, required it. The ruin which the ſudden adoption of a meaſure like this would not fail to ſhed upon the condition and property of ſo many individuals, called for the exerciſe of humanity and juſtice towards them, as well as towards any other claſs of the perſons within the purview of this Bill. It might be a very (jang) thing for a Chancellor, ſeated on the woolſack, a Right Reverend Prelate, ſeated there in vitue of a wealthy dioceſe, or a Noble Earl with a great eſtate, to fit and indulge their benevolance and humanity, in voting for a Bill of this kind, for the relief of one deſcription of perfons; but all he would aſk of Right Rev. and Noble Lords was, to exerciſe their benevolance and humanity upon univerſal, not partial principles; and not to indulge their zeal for promoting the comforts of one ſet of men at the expenses and total ruin of other claſſes, equally entitled to conſideration and juſtice.”

N:o 28. November, 1804.

Chronicle of Sayings or Hearſay.

Body Dicky has related in the Grog-Shop N:o 3 in this Town of Guſtavia, that a black Girl, who uſes to ſee him at night has told him, that an American Sailor, who ſees her now and then, had told her, that the Mate of the American Schooner, to which the Sailor belongs had told him, that he had heard his Captain ſay, that at the time the Schooner was at anchor at Point a Pitre, Guadeloupe, a coloured Girl, who uſed to come on board and ſee the Captain in the night, had related, that ſhe had heard fome talk of diſturbances amongſt the coloured people of Guadeloupe; but Body Dicky cannot tell, wheter it had been of the diſturbances of 1802, or any other.

N:o 49. Saturday, the 27 April, 1804.

From the London Papers.

February, 23. The Slave Trade Bill now before the Houſe of Commons goes to enact, that from a time to be determined, no negro ſlave ſhall be imported into any of His Majeſty's Colonies, under a penalty to be hereafter determined. All inſurances on veſſels employed in the Slave Trade, to be declared void. The benefit of seizure of veſſels employed in the traffic to redound to the ſeizing officers. Forfeitures to be recovered by prosecution in the Courts.

N:o 103. Vol. II. Saturday, the 18 April, 1807.

Gustavia, the 18 April 1807.

At last Great Britain has abolished the Slave Trade.

No vessel will be allowed to clear out from any port in Great Britain or her Dominions for Africa after the 1st of June next, and none from Africa will be allowed an Entry in any of her ports after 1st of January next ensuing.
(Gustavia at the College Print)

Num. 113 (112). Vol. III. Thursday, March 1, 1810.


From Mustapha Rub-a-Dub Keli Khan, captain of a ketch, to Asem Hacchem, principal Slave-driver to his Highness the Bashaw of Tripoli. [From Salmagundi. (satirical periodical 1807-1808 by Washington&William Irvin and James Kirke Paulding)]

Num. 158. Vol. IV. Saturday, August 13, 1814.

Gustavia, August 13, 1814.

The Advocates for the abolition of Slavery are in some degree incensed by that article of the late Treaty of Peace with France, which concedes to her the right of the slave trade for five years. The champions of emancipation, were less prepared to endure a disappointment of their views, since pending the negociations at Paris, the House of Lords had unanimously voted an address to the Prince Regent calling upon him to use all the weight and influence of the British Crown, in that transaction, to obtain an universal renunciation of the traffic in human flesh.

They begin by representing, that they had seen with unspeakable satisfaction the beneficial and happy consequences of the law, by which the African slave trade, has been throughout all the British dominions, for ever prohibited and abolished. They rely with the fullest confidence, on the gracious asurances which both the King and the Prince Regent had condescended to give them, that they would use their endeavours to obtain from other powers, the co-operation which was yet wanting for the completion of this great work.

That as Great Britain had partaken largely in the guilt of this inhuman and unchristian traffic, it would become her to stand forward among the nations of Europe, and openly proclaim its renunciation. That though she had renounced it for herself, the expiation ought not to step there. That the crimes countenanced by their example, and the calamities created and extended by their misconduct, to afflict an unoffending people, called for more. That other European nations still carried on this commerce, if commerce it could be called, in the lives and liberties of their fellow creatures. That by the intervention of those nations, the same commerce was still clandestinely continued in the British dependencies, and the desolation and barbarism of a whole continent prolonged. That unless some timely prevention be applied, the returning tranquility of Europe, the source of so much joy and exultation, would be the æra only, of renewed and aggravated miseries, to the wretched victims of an unprincipled and relentless, avarice.

They therefore pray that the Prince Regent would exort the whole weight and influence of the British Crown, in the negotiations then pending, to avert the dreadful evil. They entreat his Royal Highness, in the name of humanity, to solicit from all the sovereigns of Europe, the immediate and total abolition of the Slave Trade. That no moment was more favourable for an irrevocable renunciation of the barbarous practice, and for promulgating by the assembled Authority of the whole civilized world, a solemn declaration, that, to carry away into slavery, the inhabitants of unoffending countries, is to violate the universal law of nations, founded as that law must ever be, on the immutable principles of justice and religion.

That it was on those principles they wished their proposal to rest, and on them they relied success.

How often are we not in theory, at variance with words, while we adhere in practice to the substance of the things signified by them. Slavery, sounds ungraciously to every ear, and is shocking to every sentiment and feeling of humanity. The candid, the upright, and benevolent mind shrinks at, and abhors the very term! But while it professes to wish that such a condition was every where exploded, often takes no time to doubt of its sincerity; nor stops to examine whether in the ardour of its zeal to releive every portion of mankind from the odium and affliction of it, it does not tolerate in its own bosom, maxims equally repugnant to every principle of human liberty.

Is it unfair to offer the address just noticed, as an instance illustrative of the premises ? For with all our respect for the august assembly, where the motion for it was made and carried, and our homage to the virtues and talents which that assembly includes; might not every member of it, have questioned his sincerity in a proceeding, ostensibly bottomed upon principles of humanity, philantrophy and benevolence, if he had for a moment glanced at, or adverted to the practice of impressing and forcing to go to war and to fight against their will, not only legions of his own countrymen, but thousands of foreigners who have neither interest or concern in his quarrels, nor can derive benefit or advantage from his successes! Is liberty dearer, or more desirable to the untamed savage, for whom an enlightened policy, would be solicitous to invent restraint, than to the man who inheriting a rationel and civilised freedom, has learnt, by habit, or by education to know its value, and to use it well ?

Is it more repugnant to the liberties of man, to take from his home, and separate from his wife and child, and translate him from rudeness, to a peaceful and industrious employment, an African! than it is, to catch up a free born son of Europe or America, and without regard to whether he is of the same national description as myself, or for a moment consulting his disposition or motives of either affection or animosity to the party against which I am going to array him; force him from all his connections, and compell him to sustain a part in my quarrels, and share in conflicts where none of the merit or renown can belong to fim, and where both are measured by the number of mangled bodies of the slain and wounded, with which the earth is made to groan?

Num. 161. Vol. IV. Saturday, september 3, 1814.

Gustavia, September 3, 1814.

The abolition of the Slave Trade, a subject on which we beleived nothing new could be said, seems nevertheless to occupy all ranks of the people of England. Lord Grenville's motion to call upon Ministers for the papers which passed in the late negociations at Paris in order that it might appear to what cause it was owing, that the concurrence of France in its immediate suppression was not obtained, being negatived, a protest was entered on the journals of the House, by several Peers, among whom we perceive the names of two of the Royal Dukes.

On this subject, declamation has been exhausted. Every Theorist in the cause of humanity has had is share in decrying and hunting down. The principle, we acknowledge, more than the practice, is insusceptible of defence. But in all the recent hue and cry against it, and against the ministers who stipulated in favor of France for the continuation of the trade for the very restricted term of five years; not one word has been uttered on that most abominable of all abominations, the revival and re-establishment of the inquisition in Spain. If the latter events of the war, and certain contingent circumstances, not yet developed, which independently of strength and skill led to the ultimate success of the allies gave England any decided weight in the negotiations, would it have been discreditable to her to interpose it for the explosion, the utter unqualified extinction of that damnable instrument of vengeance and despotism, the inquisition? which not content with inflicting slavery and tortures on the body, would keep the soul in thraldom too.

(Gustavia - Printed at the Office of the Report. every Saturday by John Allan.)

Num. 171. Vol. IV. Saturday, 26 November, 1814.

From the Journal de Paris of September 11

Mr Editor.—By what fatality have the French journals, and particularly the Moniteur translated with a kind of complaisance all the articles of the English papers concerning the Slave Trade, without ever putting the slightest observation in opposition to them? How shall we explain this silence, this forgetfulness of the national interests? Or how has it happened that they are not sensible of the importance of that object on which depends the existence of our colonies, and consequently of our marine? Can they be the dupes of the pretended philantrophy displayed with so much pomp by the English Government? Nothing surely can be more ridiculous than that mass of fine sentiments, exhibited too studiously to be sincere. No man, ever so little enlightened, can ever be persuaded that the British Government has in view exclusively the cause of humanity in exerting itself with so much noise to put down a traffic consecrated (consecrated !) by custom, of which the English profited as long as they found it convenient, and which to this day has frequently been beneficial to the negroes themselves. This is not a paradox, for it is known that the inhabitants of Africa make a furious and continued war on each other, and that the prisoners on either side become the absolute property of the captors, who devote them to torture or to death, when they cannot part with them to advantage. All the Captains of slave ship will tell you that they have seen the unfortunate prisoners throw themselves at their feet in despair, kissing the ground, and entreating them to buy them. The trade, in certain views is, therefore, not so inhuman as they labour to persuade. It cannot be repeated too often that if we give up this trade, our colonies are irrecoverably annihilated; and, without colonies, no more distant voyages; no longer any maritime force! If Frarce should at all abolish the trade, she could only do it with prudence, after having first sent missionaries to Africa, and having established settlements capable of affording an indemnity for the loss of her colonies; and again, such establishments too near to the mother country could not answer the desired purpose. It is very strange that England, under the cloak of philosophy, should attempt to subject us to sacrifices, the results of wLieh would be beneficial to her own commerce exclusively, and to the increase of her own power. But as the happiness of mankind is the sole object of her policy, why does she not impose on the Emperor of Russia the necessity of emancipating the serfs? And why does she not make this demand the cause of all nations, as well as the abolition of the Slave Trade ? What would England have said, if twenty years ago, at the time when our revolutionary libera idea were at their height, we had demanded this abolition from her? She would have answered, that it is as humiliating for a nation to yield to the ascendancy of a foreign Power, which arrogated the right of tracing out for her the line of her duty; that moreover, her colonies were not yet arrived at the point of prosperity which would authorizes the cessation of the traffic; and that thus the glory as well as the interest of the nation opposed the adoption of the insulting proposal. That answer we can and ought to make now in our turn. We owe it to our honor not to bend beneath the will of foreigners. A government so noble, so generous as ours, is acquainted with the sacred laws of humanity. It well knows how to connect them with the interest of the nation; But it stands bound to its own dignity not to take any step but from its own free will. No power has a right to dictate to it What then can be the motives which direct the Cabinet of St. James and engage it to pursue with so much ardour a design so unjust towards us? Might it not be that there is a plan of civilizing Africa, and converting it into a sort of colonies dependent on Britain? Already English missionaries have been sent into different parts of that Peninsula, in order to introduce their religion, their language, their manners, and to direct the industry of the natives to the cultivation of the soil, which is capable of producing the same articles as the colonies South America. Thus England in the design of bringing under her laws the immense population of Africa, which in the course of time, will supply her with soldiers, and open a new career to her commerce. England, I say, colours her vast and deep projects with the pompous feeling of philanthropy; she advances in an oblique path, but with constant and firm pace, towards the object which she is desirous to attain and which she will attain, without doubt, unless care be taken to guard against her. Yet France, an idle spectator of the properity of her neighbours, is to contribute, by the total loss of her colonies and of her navy, to the wealth ---to the frightful power--- to the absolute superiority of England? What Frenchman in there who can contemplate the idea without alarm? A subject of such high importance well deserves the attention of the journals, in my opinion, and it is with reason that their silence upon it excites astonishment.
Pray, sir, insert this letter in your next number, if you think it can interest your readers.
I have the honor to be.
B.L. A Creole of Guadeloupe.

Num. ?. Vol. VI. 1817.?.

Le Bulletin des Lois.

Louis, &c.

Art. 1re. Tout Batiment qui tenterait d'introduire dans une de nos colonies des noirs de traite, soit francaise, soit étrangére, sera confisqué, et le capitaine, s'il est francaise, sera interdit de tout commandement.
Sera également confisqué, en pareil cas, toute la partie de la cargaison qui ne consisterait pas en esclaves ; à l'égard de noirs, ils seront employés dans la colonie aux travaux d'utilité publique.

2. La contravention prévues dans l'article précédent seront jugées dans la même forme qui les contraventions aux lois et réglemens concernant le commerce étranger.
Quant aux produits des confiscations prononcées en conformité du même manière que le sont les produits des confiscations prononcées en matière de contraventions aux lois sur le commerce étranger.

3. Notre ministre secrétaire-d'état de la marine et des colonies est chargé de l'exécution de la présente ordonnance.

Donné au chateau des Tuileries, le 8 Janvier 1817.

Bibliographie (traite négrière & Saint-Barthélemy)

  • 2009. [Sv] WEISS, Holger. « Danskar och svenskar i den atlantiska slavhandeln 1650-1850 [Les Danois et les Suédois dans la traite négrière transatlantique 1650-1850] » dans Global historia från periferin. Norden 1600-1850, Red. Leos Müller, Göran Rydén & Holger Weiss, Lund, Studentlitteratur, p. 39-74.
  • 2009. [Fr] COMITÉ DE LIAISON ET D'APPLICATION DES SOURCES HISTORIQUES. J’ai croisé Andrew Steinmetz l’Africain au Wall House, île de Nantes.
  • 2007. [Fr] DIRECTION DES ARCHIVES DE FRANCE. Guide des sources de la traite négrière, de l'esclavage et de leurs abolitions, Paris, La Documentation française, sous la direction de Claire Sibille, voir p. 107, 111, 122, 265, 270 et 272.
  • 1999. [Sv] SJÖSTRÖM, Rolf. « En nödvändig omständighet - Om svensk slavhandel i Karibien [Une circonstance nécessaire - À propos de la traite négrière suédoise dans les Caraïbes] » dans Svenska överord. En bok om gränslöshet och begränsningar, Raoul Granqvist (Red.), Stockholm, Brutus Östlings Bokförlag, p. 41-57.
  • 1998 (sept.). [Sv] ÅBERG, Alf. « Smyghandelns svenska ö hade slavar till 1847 [L'île suédoise du commerce illicite avait des esclaves jusqu'en 1847] » dans Kulturens Värld, Stockholm, no 3, p. 38-41.
  • 1988. [Fr] DAGET, Serge. Répertoire des expéditions négrières françaises à la traite illégale, 1814-1850, Nantes, Université de Nantes, 603 p.
  • 1975. [En] EKMAN, Ernst. « Sweden, The Slave Trade and Slavery, 1784-1847 [La Suède, la traite négrière et l'esclavage] » dans Revue française d'histoire d'outre-mer, Paris, p. 221-231.
  • 1951. [Sv] HILDEBRAND, Ingegerd. Den svenska Kolonin St-Barthelemy och Västindiska Kompaniet fram till 1796 [La colonie suédoise de St-Barthélemy et la West India Company jusqu'à 1796], Lund (Suède), 352 p.
  • 1842. [En] STEINMETZ, Andrew. A voice in Ramah; or lament of the poor african, a fettered exile, afar from his fatherland [Une voix à Rama; ou complainte du pauvre africain, un exil enchaîné, loin de sa terre natale], London, Harvey and Darton, 340 p. édition en ligne.

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