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boatswain of the ship, so that the master would sustain a loss which he calculated at upwards of one thousand pounds; the intention of prosecuting him was relinquished. Eight of these men immediately afterwards entered, most cheerfully, into his Majesty's service ; and the ninth being more infirm, was taken by a friend of Mr. Roscoe's on board one of his own vessels. In the course of these proceedings Mr. Roscoe was most ably assisted by Mr. Stanistreet and Mr. Avisou, two very respectable solicitors, who most strenuously advocated the cause of the prisoners at several hearings on the subject, and generously declined any recompense for their services.
So convinced were the magistrates and recorder of Liver. pool of the iniquitous nature of this transaction, that they soon after passed an order, that no process of arrest should hereafter issue, except in cases where an affidavit is made that the cause of action actually arose within the Borough ; a resolution which will effectually prevent such abuses in future.
An atrocious attempt has been lately made even in the port of London to evade the act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. A vessel called the Commercio de Rio, 360 tons burthen, was fitted out by a Portuguese house in London, to engage in this abominable traffic; its proceedings were narrowly watched for some time, and when the proofs became sufficiently strong, an information was laid, and the vessel seized in consequence : on board were found 93 pair of handcuffs, 197 iron shackles for the feet, several hundred weights of iron chain, and 55 dozen of padlocks, together with mess-kits and a large store of those provisions which are usually destined for the miserable inhabitants of these horrid dungeons; the main deck gratings were concealed by a slight covering, which to the eye appeared like a common deck, but so contrived as to be easily removed when the vessel got to sea; she was in other respects completely fitted up as a slave ship, and capable of carrying from 600 to 800 slaves; great precautions were taken, as well as much intrigue employed, to prevent suspicion and impose upon government.--A person, high in office as a Portuguese agent, exerted his influence with the British cabinet to palliate this nefarious business, but the vigilance of the friends of humanity, and the laws of our country, detected and punished the attempt : the vessel and her cargo were condemned in the Court of Exchequer, and have been since sold. If the persons engaged in fitting out the ship are liable to prosecution for penalties, it is greatly to be wished, that the statute may be put in force
against them, as it may bring to light some of the works of darkness, and operate as a powerful check upon all similar attempts.
It had long been a subject of great regret, that notwithstanding the law of the American States in this particular, her subjects were most actively employed in this cruel business, and for want of sufficient naval force, it was extremely difficult to bring them to justice; we rejoice, however, to learn that they are now likely to meet with it, as the American government does not seem disposed to reclaim them when taken by our cruizers : and the following decision in the case of an American vessel thus seized, will determine the fate of many others in similar circumstances; it is indeed one of the most important steps which have been taken since the passing of the Abolition Act. We shall therefore give the Report of the judgment of the Lords Commissioners of Prize Appeals, at the Privy Council, Saturday, July 28, 1810.
Case of the Amedie-James Johnson Master. This was a vessel under American colours, with slaves from Africa, captured in December, 1807, in the West Indies, and carried into Tortola. The claimant pretended that she was bound to Charlestown, South Carolina, where the importation of slaves continued to be lawful to the end of that year; but that baving been detained on the coast, and there being no prospect of reaching Charlestown before the 1st day of January, 1808, the period appointed for the cessation of the Slave Trade in every part of the United States, by a law of the General Congress, the master of necessity bore away for the island of Cuba, there to wait directions from his owners.
It was contended, on the other hand, by the captor, that this statement was a mere pretence, and that, in truth, the original plan of the voyage was a destination to Cuba, which was unlawful under the American laws, long previous to their general abolition of the Slave Trade.
Admitting, however, the case so to be, it was strenuously contended for the claimant, that a British Court of Prize bad no right to take any cognizance of American municipal law, and that as no belligerent right of this country had been violated, the
property ought to be restored to the neutral owner. A series of precedents seemed to support this doctrine.
The ship was condemned at Tortola, and the enslaved Africans were, according to our Abolition Act, restored to
their freedom ; but the claimant appealed, and the liberty of the Africans, as well as the property of the ship, depended on the issue of this appeal.
The case was solerinly argued in March last, and as in the opinion of the Court, it turned on the new question of the effect of the American and British Abolition Acts on this species of contraband commerce, when brought before a Court of Prize, the case on account of its importance has since stood over for judgment. Several other cases of American slave ships have also stood over as depending on the same general question.
Saturday the judgment of the Court was delivered by Sir WILLIAM GRANT, the Master of the Rolls, nearly in the following terms :
“ This ship must be considered as being employed at the time of capture in carrying slaves from the coast of Africa to a Spanish colony. We think that this was evidently the original plan and purpose of the voyage, notwithstanding the pretence set up to veil the true intention. The claimant, however, who is an American, complains of the capture, and demands from us the restitution of property of which he alleges that he has beeu unjustly dispossessed. In all the former cases of this kind, which have come before this Court, the Slave Trade was liable to considerations very different from those which belong to it now. It had at that time been prohibited (as far as respected carrying Slaves to the colonies of foreign nations) by America, but by our own laws it was still allowed. It appeared to us, therefore, difficult to consider the prohibitory law of America in any other light than as one of those municipal regulations of a foreign state of which this Court could not take any cognizance. the alteration, which has since taken place, the question stands on different grounds, and is open to the application of very different principles. The Slave Trade has since been totally abolished by this country, and our legislature has pronounced it to be contrary to the principles of justice and humanity. Whatever we might think as individuals before, we could not, sitting as Judges in a British Court of Justice, regard the trade in that light, while our own laws permitted it. But we can now assert, that this trade cannot abstract, edly speaking, have a legitimate existence.
6 When I say abstractedly speaking, I mean that this country has no right to controul any foreign legislature that may think fit to dissent from this doctrine, and to permit to
its own subjects the prosecution of this trade; but we have now a right to affirm that prima facie the trade is illegal, and thus to throw on claimants the burthen of proof that, in respect of them, by the authority of their own laws, it is otherwise. As the case now stands, we think we ARE ENTITLED TO SAY, THAT A CLAIMANT CAN HAVE NO RIGHT UPON PRINCIPLES OF UNIVERSAL LAW, TO CLAIM THE RESTITU• TION IN A PRIZE COURT OF HUMAN BEINGS CARRIED AS HIS SLAVES. He must shew some right that has been violated by the capture, some property of which he has been dispossessed, and to which he ought to be restored. In this case, the laws of the claimant's country allow of no right of property such as he claims. There can therefore be no right of restitution. The consequence is that the judgment must be affirmed.
We have lately heard of the capture of several other American vessels laden with Slaves, and cannot but hope tbat this decision will go far towards giving a death blow to the traffic; the experience of three years however, has shewn, that farther and stronger legislative steps are necessary to secure the complete operation of our own Abolition Act, and accordingly on Friday, June 15, 1810, Mr. Brougham, in a very eloquent and argumentative speech, moved i he House of Commons upon the subject :-the heads of the debate are as follows : *
Ma. BROUGHAM rose, pursuant to notice, to call the attention of the House to the state of the Slave Trade : a subject, he said, of the first importance ; and although it was neither a personal question, nor a party one-though its discussion involved neither the pursuit nor the defence of place-although, indeed, it touched matters of no higher concerninent than the honour of the House and the Country, and the interests of humanity at large ; be trusted that it would nevertheless receive the same favourable consideration which it had yo often experienced upon former occasions. The question he purposed to submit to the House was, whether any, and what measures could be adopted, in order to watch over the execution of the sentence of condemnation which Parliament had, with a singular unanimity, pronounced upon the African Slave Trade? It was now four years since Mr. Fox made his last motion in that House, and, he believed, his last speech there, in favour of the Abolition. He then proposed a Resolution, pledging the House to the Abolition of the Traffic, and an Address to the Crown, beseeching His Majesty to use all his endeavours for obtaining the concurrence of other Powers in the pursuit of this great object. An Address to the same effect was made by the other House, with equal unanimity; and, early in the next year, tuo Noble Friends of his (Lords Grenville and Grey), who were second only to his Honourable Friend, prevented by indispositiou from attending this day (Mr.Wilberforce), in their services to the cause, and would yield not even to him in their zcal for its success, gave the
* These Debates, in a separate pamphlet, are to be had at RideWAY'S Bond Street, Piccadilly.
Parliament an opportunity of redeeming its pledge, by introducing the Aboli. tion Bills into the two Houses. That measure, which had formerly met so many obstacles, whether, as some were willing to believe, from the slowness with which truth works its way, or, as others were prone to suspect, from the want of zeal ju its official supporters, now experienced none of the impediments that had hitherto retarded its progress : far from encountering any formidable difficulties, it passed through Parliament almost without opposition; and one of the greatest and most disputed of measures, was at length carried by larger Bajorities, perhaps, than were ever known to divide upon any contested ques. tion. The friends of the Abolition, however, never expected that any legislative measure would at once destroy the Slave Trade : they were aware how obstinately such a Trade would cling to the soil where it had taken root : they anticipated the difficulties of extirpating a traffic which had entwined itself with so many interests, prejudices, and passions. But he must admit, that although they had foreseen, they had considerably underrated, those difficulties. They had not made sufficient allowance for the resistance which the real interests of those directly engaged in the Trade, and the supposed interests of the Colonists, would oppose to the execution of the Acts: ibey had undere rated the wickedness of the Slave Trader, and the infatuation of the Planter, While on the one hand it appeared, from the documents he formerly moved for, that nothing had been done to circumscribe the Foreign Slave Trade, it was now found, that this abominable commerce bad not completely ceased, even in this Couotry! He hoped the House would favour bim with its attention; while, from the papers on the table, and from such other information as he had been enabled to obtain, he laid before it a statement, which would, in some measure, enable it to appreciate the extent of the evil, and to apply the proper remedies.
He then proceeded to call the attention of the House to the state of the Slave Trade in foreign countries. lu these it existed variously. In America it was contraband, as in England, having been probibited by law, but still carried on illegally, for the supply of the American as well as of foreign plantations ; while in the Colonies of Portugal and Spain it was still sanctioned by the laws, and even received peculiar encouragement from the Government. The extent of the Spanish Slave Trade be could not state very accurately, but, from returns of the Custom-house at Cadiz, to which he had had access, and from the well-known increase of the sugar culture iu Cuba, the importation of New groes appears to be very great. The average annual importation into that Island during thirteen years, from 1789 to 1803, was 5840 ; and it was evi. dently upon the increase, for the average of the last four years of the period was 8600 : the total number imported during the period exceeded 76,000 slaves. This statement, among other things, proved how much the American dag was used in covering the Foreign Slave Trade ; for, after the commencement of hostilities between Spain and this country, the trade could only have been carried on to a very limited extent in Spanish bottoms; and yet, instead of being checked by the war, it had greatly increased since 1795. The culture of sugar had likewise increased at Porto Rico, and on the Main, and with it, of course, the importation of Slaves. The precise amount of this he could not speak to ; but he had every reason to suppose it very inconsiderable, when compared with the traffic in Cuba. The adnual importation of Mexico did not exceed 100 negroes, and that of the Settlements on the South Sea was only 500. The other colonies obtained their supplies principally from the Brazils. With regard to the Portuguese Slave Trade, he could speak with more preci. sion. During his residence at Lisbon, in the King's service, he had official communication with the Portuguese Minister, and also with a person of high rank, who had been Governor of the Northern Provinces of Brazil, and was then going out as Governor of Angola and enguela, upon the African Coast. It appeared, from the returns of a capitation-tax on negroes exported from Africa (which Gentlemen would perceive, must give the lowest amount of the