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increase of our Colonial produce, to be derived from the continuance of the Trade, particularly in the Island of Cuba, where such bas been the progress of agriculture since the Revolution in St. Domingo, that the produce of it is now equal to, if not greater than, that of Jainaica; so that, in time of peace, and supposing the Slave-trade to continue, the increase of our Colonial produce would be such as to enable us to undersell altogether the English in every market of Europe; whereas the losses or disadvantages to be expected from the total cessation of the trade, would necessarily be : Ist, a great scarcity of hands for the purposes of agriculture ; 2ndly, the consequent diminution of produce, and the increased price of the Slaves, so that if a Slave fit for agricullural labour costs now at The Havana 350 dollars, in the event of the traffic ceasing, his price would be augmented one-fourth, at least, or to 4662 dollars. And as, in order to replace the dead and the freed Slaves, out of the present number of 212,000 contained in the Island, the annual importation of 3,500 Blacks would be scarcely sufficient (a proportion taken from an average amount of the importation of Slaves into Cuba, in the 38 years from 1773 to 1810,) it would follow that, taking their price at 400 dollars each, the excess would necessarily diminish the outlay, and, consequently, the profit, upon the cultivation.
Confining themselves always to the Island of Cuba, they proceed to say, that the Planters had, under the guarantee of ancient Cedulas permitting the traffic, embarked the whole of their capitals, in tilling extensive tracts of land, in forming plantations of coffee, in erecting numerous engines, as well as in purchasing a great number of Slaves for the cultivation and keeping up of those expensive establishments; but that they were unable to obtain the number of Slaves sufficient for their Works in 1807, in consequence of the War which immediately succeeded the last Grant that they had obtained, -owing to which, the exportation of Colonial produce was totally prevented, so as to reduce the Island to such a wretched state with respect to its agriculture, that it has not been possible yet for them to recover from the depression; that to decree, therefore, under such circumštances, the immediate abolition of the Slave-trade, would be to ruin the Landholders and Merchants, instead of giving to them such assistance as might, under the auspices of a general peace, enable them to recover their losses; that it would be to retrograde the agriculture and the commerce of our Islands, to the condition in which they were about the middle of the last Century; that it would be to deprive the Royal Treasury and the Church, of those Annual Revenues which are derived from the produce and sale of Colonial products: that the entire Abolition of the Slave-trade would be to produce all the before-mentioned evils, which would be further augmented, in propor. tion to the difficulty which the Proprietors would inevitably experience [1916–17.)
in keeping up the adequate number of Slaves: that as to cocoa, coffee, indigo, and tobacco, and other productions, which admit of being cultivated on small pieces of land, the large Farms might be subdivided for that purpose, and that as these small Farms would gradually fall into the hands of Freed-men, the evils which would follow might not be of long duration; but that with respect to sugar, the case would be very different, because the cultivation of it requires extensive lands, and a great number of Labourers on the same spot for the cultivation of the cane, and also many expensive buildings for the manufacture of the sugar, which ought to be performed by the same hands.
They conclude by stating; that the deficiency of hands produced by the Abolition could not be immediately supplied by calling in the Indians, whose apathetic character precludes us from expecting any advantage from their assistance; and that it could not be remedied by employing Free Men, whose vices and habits of indolence render them unfit for manual and agricultural labours; for that, even if they should submit thereto, they would work only for very exorbi. tant wages: that the progeny of the Slaves would be insufficient to supply the demand of hands for agricultural labour; not only on account of the easy manner in which emancipation is now frequently effected, and of the deficiency of females, whose number does not by any means correspond with that of the males; but on account of the Slaves ceasing to have children at a much earlier period than other women, and of their dying very young, in consequence of the laborious and wretched lise which they are doomed to live.
In order to reply to these arguments, which are by no means destitute of force and attraction, it will be necessary for the Council to examine them serialim.
In the first place then, it being certain that the principles of morality and policy equally enjoin the Abolition of the Slave-trade, whether with regard to England or to any other European Power similarly situated ; there can exist no reason for considering the present Negotiations for that purpose, as dictated by private or interested views. On the contrary, it ought to be presumed, that the ardent zeal and endeavours of the Cabinet of the former Court have for their object, to satisfy the minds of the English People, who, feeling a great enthusiasm in every measure that is consistent with the libe. rality of their constitutional principles, must naturally be anxious for the abolition of a commerce which, agreeably to those principles, they bave been taught to look upon as insulting to humanity, rather than the paltry consideration of upholding their Colonial productions above those of other Nations. This will be the more readily admitted, when it is considered that the agricultural condition of the Colonies of Great Britain is so flourishing, as to render their produce greater than her
consumption. And if their export trade has, of late, been very considerable, this must be attributed only to the peculiar circumstances wbich had before paralyzed the entire commerce of Europe; but when their warehouses shall be once again replenished, they cannot expect the demand for their Colonial produce to continue in the same progressive manner. But even supposing, for a moment, that the feeling's of humanity are not the only ones by which the British Cabinet is influenced, in interposing its friendly counsel for an immediate Abolition of the trade in question, and that their own interest, mercantile relations, and expectation of greater profit, have an influence upon their conduct in the present instance; what would this prove, but that we ought voluntarily to adopt and decree the Abolition on our part,since, when once determined upon it, the English Nation, with the superiority and dominion which it holds upon
would never permit or suffer us to carry on a trade, which might create uneasi. ness to them? The Chamber of Commerce and the Municipality of The Havana, and the Governor of the Island of Cuba, whilst they have been urging the prolongation of the trade for 12 years longer, have complained of several captures of Slave-Ships by British Cruizers; and, after having expressed the difficulty they experience in obtaining the restoration of those Vessels from the Tribunals at Sierra Leone and London, they have requested that our Government should, in a direct manner, insist upon some assurance being given by the British Goverument, that no similar occurrence shall take place hereafter. The Council is also informed, that the Governor of Porto Rico and others have forwarded similar Complaints to the Ministry; and if this has happened, at a time when the British Cabinet was negotiating with our Government for the total Abolition of the trade, (although the Council is far from supposing that this circumstance can have had any influence in the captures above alluded to) what hope of a better treatment remains to us, if we reject their proposals ? and who knows but that such an act on our part might give rise to a rupture? On the other hand, should England see that her remonstrances and suggestions have been properly attended to, and that your Majesty, in consequence, adopts and decrees the proposed Abolition, it will tend to strengthen still more the alliance and mutual friendship of the 2 Nations, and may induce Great Britain, with that generosity with which she bas hitherto treated the Spanish Nation, to make new efforts in her favour, and to lend her that further assistance which the urgency of her circumstances might require.
When this traffic is considered with reference to its financial effects, and weighing well the advantages and disadvantages derived to our American Possessions from the importation of Slaves, the Council is ready to consess ;—that we are indebted to their powerful and vigorous hands for the profit we have derived from the gold and silver mines, particularly in those of Popayan, Antioquia, Choco and others of the Vice-royalty of Santa Fé; that to them also we owe the working of the sugar estates, the cultivation of our plantations of coffee, cocoa, tobacco, indigo and other valuable products of those Regions; and lastly, that it is through the labour of the Slaves that the agriculture of the American Continent has been improved, so as now to yield the most abundant crops, especially in the Islands and on the lands situated near the sea shore, as well as in those where a lot temperature, to which Negroes are so much accustomed, bas rendered their labour comparatively easy, and has facilitated their occupations. It is well known that, in the more internal Regions, and particularly where the temperature is cooler, Blacks cannot well exist; and in more temperate climates they are either not to be found, or are simply destined for domestic servitude, as may be seen throughout the greater part of the Kingdom of Mexico, where the mines are worked by Free Men. It is, therefore, a well established truth that, by the labours of the Negroes, we have been enabled to improve our agriculture in the Colonies, and to bring it to that state in which it now exists, as well as that, by their labours, we have been enabled to dig out of the bowels of the earth riches to a very great extent. But all this, in the opinion of the Council, is not a sufficient reason for permitting any longer the existence of a trade, which is, from the best evidence and considerations, highly prejudicial and dangerous to us in other respects. We will for a moment believe, that the advantages of a superiority of our Colonial produce over that of the English, to be derived from a prolongation of this traffic, might produce a corresponding augmentation in the Revenues of the State and of the Church; yet if the means for obtaining such a result are in themselves objectionable and to be reprobated, and expose us to the possibility of losing, in one moment, every advantage we might possess; it cannot admit of the smallest doubt, that we ought not to put those means into practice. Besides which, nothing can prevent us from supplying the deficiency of Slaves with assistance of another kind, but equally productive of the same abundance and prosperity.
The great improvements that have taken place in the Island of Cuba, to which the Friends of the Slave-trade are for ever referring, are asserted to be the effect of the extent and freedom of that traffic ; whereas the truth is, that the same beneficial results would, probably, have been obtained without them, and perhaps greater; particularly if it be considered that the slaughter of St. Domingo forced a very considerable number of Spanish Subjects and Foreigners, who have since been uaturalized, to fly from thence to Cuba, where they have settled with their capitals and habits of industry; that the general trade of that Island was greatly assisted at different times, and supported by the wise measures of our Government, who removed many of the obstacles which shackled it in its progress; and that finally, the working of machines, the cultivating of plantations, &c. would have been as easily effected by means of Native Free Men, and have brought the agricultural state of that Country into the same flourishing condition in which it now stands. To say that the latter are unfit for such purposes, can be nothing less than prejudice.
This is not a new idea. In the Memorial submitted to the Council in 1803, it was attempted to be proved that without Slaves there could be no agriculture in America; but against facts theories must yield and fall to the ground; and as, at the time that that Memorial was presented, the Captain-General of the Caracas shewed iu the clearest manner, that, in his Proviuce, the plantations which were cultivated by Native Free People, were in a much more flourishing condition than those cultivated by Slaves, a conviction was produced in the minds of the Government, contrary to the assertion of the Memorialist, and their subsequent deliberations gave rise to the Order for suspending the execution of the Royal Cedulas, relative to the prolongation of the Slave-trade, so often alluded to in another part of this Report.
The reason pointed out by the Captain-General for the difference which he had observed was sufficiently obvious. The labour performed by the Slave who, disgusted with his own wretched condition, feels no personal interest in it, is always precarious and scanty, and he is compelled to it by force; while, on the contrary, the Free Man, conscious that by his labour he procures to himself and family a creditable and proportionate maintenance, prosecutes his labour with cheerfulness. The beneficial consequences resulting from this, is therefore in favour of those who employ the latter in preference to the Slaves.
Nor let it be said, that the Blacks, on account of their constitution, are better calculated to stand the climate of those scorching Regions than any other class of Men; for, if they are fit for the working of mines, and the cultivation of farms, in warm climates, why should not those who are born, have been educated, and have lived all their lives in those climates, be equally qualified for the execution of all those manual labours ? To deny this would be to invert the order of nature;—for Man is born to be every thing which vecessity and custom may require him to be. If free persons have not hitherto employed themselves in those labours, in our Islands aud in our Posses. sions near the Coast, it is because, amongst the many evils for which we are indebted to the importation of Slaves, one more partieularly obnoxious and opposed to improvement has existed; namely, the having destined the Negroes, exclusively, to such labours; in consequence of which, the Whites have been brought to look upon thein with disdain,