Plan and Sections of a Slave Ship
The present edition.
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The invaluable services rendered by Thomas Clarkson to the great question of the Slave Trade in all its branches, have been universally acknowledged both at home and abroad, and have gained him a high place among the greatest benefactors of mankind. The History of the Abolition which this volume contains, affords some means of appreciating the extent of his sacrifices and his labours in this cause. But after these, with the unwearied exertions of William Wilberforce, had conducted its friends to their final triumph, in 1807, they did not then rest from their labours. There remained four most important objects, to which the anxious attention of all Abolitionists was now directed.
First,—The law had been passed, forced upon the Planters, the Traders, and the Parliament, by the voice of the people; and there was a necessity for keeping a watchful eye over its execution.
Secondly,—The statute, however rigorously it might be enforced, left, of course, the whole amount of the Foreign Slave traffic untouched, and it was infinitely to be desired that means should be adopted for extending our Abolition to other nations.
Thirdly,—Some compensation was due to Africa, for the countless miseries which our criminal conduct had for ages inflicted upon her, and strict justice, to say nothing of common humanity and Christian charity, demanded that every means should be used for aiding in the progress of her civilization, and effacing as far as possible the dreadful marks which had been left upon her by our crimes.
Lastly,—Many of those whom we had transported by fraud and violence from their native country, and still more of the descendants of others who had fallen a sacrifice to our cruelties, and perished in the course of nature, slaves in a foreign land, remained to suffer the dreadful evils of West India bondage. It seemed to follow, that the earliest opportunity consistent with their own condition, should be taken to free those unhappy beings, the victims of our sordid cruelty; and all the more to be pitied, as we were all the more to be blamed, because one result of our transgression was the having placed them in so unnatural a position, that their enemies might seem to be furnished with an argument more plausible than sound, drawn from the Negro’s supposed unfitness for immediate emancipation.