The Apology for Negroe Slavery is almost too despicable a composition to merit a reply. I have only therefore to observe, (as is frequently the case in a bad cause, or where writers do not confine themselves to truth) that the work refutes itself. This writer, speaking of the slave-trade, asserts, that people are never kidnapped on the coast of Africa. In speaking of the treatment of slaves, he asserts again, that it is of the very mildest nature, and that they live in the most comfortable and happy manner imaginable. To prove each of his assertions, he proposes the following regulations. That the stealing of slaves from Africa should be a felony. That the premeditated murder of a slave by any person on board, should come under the same denomination. That when slaves arrive in the colonies, lands should be allotted for their provisions, in proportion to their number, or commissioners should see that a sufficient quantity of sound wholesome provisions is purchased. That they should not work on Sundays and other holy-days. That extra labour, or night-work, out of crop, should be prohibited. That a limited number of strips should be inflicted upon them. That they should have annually a suit of clothes. That old infirm slaves should be properly cared for, &c.—Now it can hardly be conceived, that if this author had tried to injure his cause, or contradict himself, he could not have done it in a more effectual manner, than by this proposal of these salutary regulations. For to say that slaves are honourably obtained on the coast; to say that their treatment is of the mildest nature, and yet to propose the above-mentioned regulations as necessary, is to refute himself more clearly, than I confess myself to be able to do it: and I have only to request, that the regulations proposed by this writer, in the defence of slavery, may be considered as so many proofs of the assertions contained in my own work.
~ Thomas Clarkson (1786)