Beginning of British Slave Trade



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Slave Trade
Slave Trade
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Sir John Hawkins was the first Englishman, who transported slaves from Africa to America. This was in 1562. His adventures of the beginning of British slave trade are recorded by Hakluyt, a contemporary historian. He sailed from England in October, 1562, for Sierra Leone, and in a short time obtained possession of 300 negroes, "partly by the sword and partly by other means." He proceeded directly to Hispaniola, and exchanged his cargo for hides, ginger, sugar, etc, and arrived in England, after an absence of eleven months. The voyage was "very prosperous, and brought great profit to the adventurers."

This successful beginning of British slave trade excited the avarice of his countrymen; and the next year, Hawkins sailed for Guinea with three ships. The history of this voyae is related at large in Hakluyt's collections, by a person who sailed with Hawkins. They landed at a small island on the coast to see if they could take any of the inhabitants. Eighty me, with arms and ammunition, started on the hunt; but the natives flying into the woods, they returned without success. A short time after, they proceeded to another island, called Sambula. "In this island," says the narrator, "we staid certain days, going every day on shore to take the inhabitants, with burning and spoiling their towns." Hawkins made a third boyage in 1568, with six ships, which, it seems, "terminated most miserably," and put a stop for some years to the traffic.

The first attempt at beginning of British slave trade on the African coast, was made in the year 1618, when James I granted an exclusive charter to Sir Robert Rich, and some other merchants of London, for raising a joint stock company to trade to Guinea. The profits not being found to answer their expectations, the charter was suffered to expire.

In 1631, Charles I granted a second charter to Richard Young, Sir Kenelm Digby, and sundry merchants, to enjoy the exclusive trade to the coast of Guinea, between Cape Blanco and the Cape of Good Hope, for a period of thirty-one years. As the English had by this time began the settlement of plantations in the West Indies, negroes were in general demand; and the company erected on the African coast, forts and warehouses, to protect their commerce. Private adventurers and interlopers of all nations broke in upon them, and forced the trade open, and so it continued until after the restoration of Charles II.

In 1663, a third exclusive company during the beginning of British slave trade was incorporated, consisting of many persons of high rank and distinction, at the head of whom was the king's brother, the Duke of York. This company undertook to supply the English plantations with 3,000 negroes, annually. In 1664, all the Dutch forts on the African coast but two were captured by the English; but in the following year they were retaken by the Dutch Admiral, De Ruyter, who also seized one of the forts belonging to the English company. In 1672, the company surrendered their charter.

The same year, 1672, the fourth and last exclusive company was established. It was dignified by the title of the Royal African Company, and had among the stockholders, the king, the Duke of York, and many other persons of high rank. The capital was POUNDsign111,000, and was raised in nine months. They paid POUND 35,000 for the forts of the old company. Besides the traffic in slaves, they imported into England great quantities of gold. In 1673, 50,000 guineas, (named for the country), were coined. They also imported redwood, ivory, wax, etc., and exported to the value of POUND70,000, annually, in English goods.

The revolution of 1688 upset the exclusive privileges of this company. By the 1st William and Mary, the African, and all other exclusive companies not authorized by parliament were abolished. The company, however, continued its operations.

The trade to Africa during the British slave trade, by the statute, was virtually free, but it was expressly made so in 1698, under certain conditions. A duty of ten percent. ad valorem, was laid upon the goods exported from England to carry on the trade, to be paid to the collector at the time of clearance. This duty went to the company. A further duty of ten per cent. ad valorem, was laid upon all goods and merchandise imported into England and the colonies, from Africa. This duty was applied to the maintenance fo the forts and castles. No duty was to be laid upon negroes, nor upon gold or silver.

Against the provisions of this law, both the company and private traders remonstrate, but without effect. In the course of a few years, the affairs of the company were found in bad condition; adn Parliament in 1739, granted them POUND10,000 , and the like sum annually until 1744, when the grant was doubled for that year. In 1747, no grant was made.

In 1750, the "act for extending and improving the beginning of British slave trade in Africa" was passed, and continued in force until the close of the century.

In 1790, during the British slave trade the whole number of forts and factories established on the coast, was about forty; fourteen belonged to the English, fifteen to the Dutch, three to the French, four to the Portuguese, and four to the Danes. The value fo English goods annually exported to Africa about that time, was estimated at POUND 800,000 sterling.

It is impossible to arrive at any exact conclusion as to the number of negroes annually carried off by the traders of various nations about this time, but there is reason to believe that it did ot fall sfar short of 100,000. It has been estimated, that up to the close of the last century, Africa must have been defrauded of a population of 30,000,000. The principal slave importing places were the West India Islands, the British Colonies of North America, Brazil, and other settlements in South America.

William Wilberforce Watching a Master Mistreat His Slaves at the Dockside in Liverpool
William...
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Very early after the commencement of the slve trade, the Africans began to be considered as an inferior race, and even their very color as a mark of it. Under this notion they continued to be transported for centuries, until various persons, taking an interest in their sufferings, produced such a union of public sentiment in their favor in England, that parliament was induces to consider their case by hearing evidence upon it. It is this evidence which we now propose to lay before the reader, in all its sickening and horrible details. It was heard before a select committee of the House of Commons, in the years 1790 and 1791, and we quote it as most reliable proof of the enormities of the African British Slave Trade. It was given by persons, some of whom had been engaged in the traffic, and had visited all the principal parts of Africa from the river Senegal to Angola, had been up and down the rivers, and had resided on shore. This testimony covers the period from 1750 to 1790.

Beginning of British slave trade to be continued.

English Slave Trade in Senegal

Kidnapping Slaves in Western Africa

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