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SLA V E TRAFFIC.
Sale Purchase-Barter—Mortgage-Auction-Cofile-gang-Shipments-As ab
solutely as in the case of any other Property, and by the same Tenure.
This feature must result, of necessity, from "the legal relation" of ownership exhibited in the first chapter. The quotations there made cover explicitly this ground.
· The master may sell him.” « Slaves shall be sold.” “Sold, transferred, or pawned as goods, or personal estate, for goods they were, and as such they were esteemed.”
Any modification of this feature must evidently relax the application of the principle of ownership, and limit its operation. In the Spanish, Portuguese, and French colonies, such modifications, nevertheless, obtained. The Code Noir, art. 47, prohibits the selling of the husband without the wife, the parents without the children, or vice versa. In cases of voluntary sales, made contrary to this regulation, the wife or husband, the children or parents, though expressly retained by the seller, pass, by the same conveyance, to the purchaser, and may be claimed by him without any additional price. (See Stephen's Slavery, 69 ;* Stroud's Sketch, 51.)
What bearing this humane regulation would have upon our internal slave-trade, if it were established in this country, the reader will see by the following account of its operation.
Says the compiler of the Annals of the Sovereign Council of Martinique :
“This law has always been rigidly executed, when. ever a claim has been set up on the part of the purshaser. I have known slaves who have been sent to Guadaloupe or St. Domingo to be expatriated and sold, to reclaim their children remaining in our colony, with success, through the action of the purchasers in the colonies to which they were sent." (See Stephen's Slavery, 69 and 70, citing Annals de la Martinique, tome i., p. 285. Vide Stroud, p. 51.)
It would not, probably, be quite as easy for slave children to recover their aged parents, or for husbands to reclaim their feeble and sickly wives, by this "action of the purchasers.” Humanity, nevertheless, would gain much. The principle of human chattelhood would be weakened. Perhaps it was partly through the influence of this and similar relaxations of the principle that the entire system was swept away Mexico and the South American Republics. By this feature of the Code Noir, the bondage under its ju
in risdiction was made to resemble, in this aspect, the feudalism or serfdom of northern Europe, where the villein is attached to the soil, rather than the chattel slavery of the American slave States.
* This remarkable provision arises, doubtless, from the fact that the laws respecting slavery in those colonies are framed in the mother country, and not (as in the British colonies) by colonial legislatures, composed of slaveholders.
In Pennsylvania, in New-York, perhaps in other American States, when measures were taken for the prospective abolition of slavery, the sale of slaves to be sent out of the State was prohibited by express statute. Except in these instances, we know of no departure, in the matter of sale and transfer, in our American slave States, from the principle of unrestricted and absolute human chattelhood, unless the anomaly be found in the State of Louisiana, as hinted in our first chapter, where it was stated that slaves are held in Louisiana as real estate. “In the slaveholding States,” (says Judge Stroud,)“except in Louisiana, no law exists to prevent the violent separation of parents from their children, or even from each other.” (Stroud's Sketch, p. 50.)
Again, after dwelling upon these cruelties of the domestic slavetrade, as being peculiar to “the republican States of North America," the same writer adds in a note, (p. 52,) “From the generality of this remark, the State of Louisiana must be excepted.”
4. The slaves are declared to be real estate, to be ranked among immovable property. When, therefore, the owner of slaves is, as I presume is most commonly the case, possessed of land, the slave cannot be separated from it by process of law. Besides this humane regulation, there are several others which deserve to be signalized, viz.: 'If, at a public sale of slaves, there
happen to be some who are disabled through old age or otherwise, and who have children, such slaves shall not be sold but with his or her children, whom he or she may think proper to go with.” (1 Mar. tin's Digest, 612; Act of July 7, 1806; Stroud's Sketch, p. 52-3.)
How far these provisions are, at this late day, available for the benefit of the slaves of Louisiana, we have no means of knowing. Louisiana has been a purchasing, rather than a slave-exporting State. The striking contrast between these enactments and the known usages and scenes of other States, mark their anomalous character, as exceptions which prove
nd illustrate the general rule of unrestricted chattelhood in our slaveholding States.
It is to be noticed that these refreshing anomalies are witnessed in only one of the slave States: a State coming within our jurisdiction from under that of France, and receiving its earlier features of polity under the laws of Spain. Louisianian slavery took its type from the Code Noir, and from the usages growing up under what our citizens are pleased to denominate Spanish despotism and superstition. Anglo-Saxon civilization and religion, with all their "republican" and "Protestant” boastings, have not yet reached the same point of progress; nor do we learn that in Florida, acquired from Spain, the mild features of Spanish slavery have survived the transfer. The reason may be, that too many Northern citizens (the most merciless of all slaveholders) have planted themselves there. Be this as it may, it is certain that the “legal relation of master and slave," as commonly understood, practised, vindicated, and protected, in these United States, differs widely, in the feature now under consideration, from that defined by the Code Noir. We may venture to affirm that the commonly received exposition, as it exists in theory and practice, in the Church and the State, has been truthfully set forth by one of our most prominent and popular statesmen, the late Henry Clay, in his speech in the U. S. Senate, Feb. 7, 1839, in which he said:
"The moment that the incontestable fact is admitted, that the slaves are property, the law of movable property irresistibly attaches itself to them, and secures the right of carrying them from one State to another."*
may be said that there is an exception to this statement of Mr. Clay, in the laws of some of the slave States, prohibiting the importation of slaves from other States; also, in the restrictions recently imposed, on motion of Mr. Clay himself, upon the
prosecution of the slave-trade from the Federal District.
Those State regulations were, for reasons of policy or supposed interest, to encourage slave-breeding at home, instead of receiving supplies from abroad. Whether consistent or inconsistent with the rights of property, they have their precedent in the prohibitions of importations of other kinds of property, by different nations and States. But, under our Federal Constitution, the power of regulating commerce between the several States is committed to Congress, not to the States; and hence, in Mississippi, notwith standing the prohibitory enactment, the slave-dealers in 1836-7 brought into that State and sold slaves to the value of ninety millions of dollars! It is true that when they undertook the collection of their debts, the purchasers pleaded the illegality of the sales ; the