The Captured Africans
New York Morning Herald
Citation Information:”The Captured Africans,” New York Morning Herald. September 18, 1839. p.2.
1. Correspondence of the Herald.
EN ROUTE TO HARTFORD, SEPT. 15
2. Mr. Bennett: The Abolitionists are of course greatly annoyed by your exposure of their hypocrisy; and are endeavoring to attract the sympathy and extract the money of the humane by accusing those who have desired to divest the main question of the perplexing difficulties thrown around it by Tappan & Co. of subserviency to the views of the slave holders. But such charges are too preposterous to receive a moment’s consideration, and the effect of the indiscreet and foolish movements of the Abolitionists has been highly prejudicial to the Africans. I heard one of our most distinguished citizens remark yesterday, that his sympathies had at first been warmly enlisted in favor of the blacks–that he had been induced to believe, by the representations of the pseudo-philanthropists, that they were a set of hapless beings who had been torn from the enjoyments of social and domestic life and sold to hopeless misery, to feed the insatiate avarice of a blackhearted planter; and he should have rejoiced at their escape, even if they had reached our shores dyed to the elbows in the blood of their oppressors. He thought of Cinguez as he had been represented by Leavitt and his coadjutors, the heroic liberator of his enslaved brethren, who nobly preferred death to the degrading bondage of the white man; and was almost ready to wink at an infraction of our treaty with Spain, if necessary, to protect him from the consequences of his daring gallantry. But a look at thehero and hiscompatriots had wrought an instantaneous change in his sentiments. Instead of a chivalrous leader with the dignified and graceful bearing of Othello, imparting energy and confidence to his intelligent and devoted followers, he saw a sullen, dumpish looking negro, with a flat nose, thick lips, and all the other characteristics of his debased countrymen, without a single redeeming or striking trait, except the mere brute qualities of strength and activity, who had inspired terror among his companions by the indiscriminate and unsparing use of the lash. And instead of intelligent and comparatively civilized men, languishing in captivity and suffering under the restraints of the prison, he found them the veriest animals in existence, perfectly contented in confinement, without a ray of intelligence, and sensible only to the wants of the brute. No man, he said, more thoroughly appreciated the hideous horrors of the slave trade, or had conceived a more decided aversion to slavery in all its phases; but he was certain that the natives of Africa would be improved and elevated by transferring them to the genial climate of Carolina, and the mild restraints of an intelligent and humane planter. Still although the abstract idea of liberty was utterly incomprehensible to an African, and ridiculous as applied to him; and his physical condition was made better by the change, he has natural rights which it is enormous wickedness to invade. The previous impressions, as well as present views of this gentleman, are precisely coincident to my own, and the effect of my examination of the condition and character of the captured blacks was identically the same.
3. The conclusion that I arrive at, therefore, is, that the monstrous perversions of the fact of which the Abolitionists have been guilty, and their hypocritical and insidious appeals to the sympathies of the public, have operated to the serious disadvantage of the blacks, and will have a greater influence in precluding a fair trial, than all other causes combined
4. Antonio, who is detained as a witness against the murderers of the captain, was the cabin boy of the L’Amistad. His life was saved by the interposition of Manuel, one of the blacks, who assisted in the murder of the captain. He is an active and rather sprightly boy, of fifteen, and had been with Captain Ferrer in the L’Amistad, upwards of three years. He says his master treated him kindly, and he occasionally expresses great indignation towards the blacks. He, however, tells different stories at different times, but this is perhaps owing to his confusion and want of memory. When told that the negroes would perhaps be sent to their own country, he laughed and said they would be caught and carried back to Havana again in less than six months. He is very comfortable and contented, but he says he likes Havana better, because the weather is warmer.
5. Tomorrow I will write you from Hartford, and give you all the proceedings as they occur.