And so all the black men now in our plantations, who are by unjust force deprived of their liberty, and held in slavery, as they have none upon earth to appeal to, may lawfully repel that force with force, and to recover their liberty, destroy their oppressors: and not only so, but it is the duty of others, white as well as blacks, to assist those miserable creatures, if they can, in their attempts to deliver themselves out of slavery, and to rescue them out of the hands of their cruel tyrants.
~ Philmore (1760)
THAT some desperate wretches should be willing to steal and enslave men by violence and murder for gain, is rather lamentable than strange. But that many civilized, nay, christianized people should approve, and be concerned in the savage practice, is surprising; and still persist, though it has been so often proved contrary to the light of nature, to every principle of Justice and Humanity, and even good policy, by a succession of eminent men, and several late publications.
~ Thomas Paine (March 8, 1775)
The well taught philosophic mind
To all compassion gives;
Casts round the world an equal eye,
And feels for all that lives.
If mind, as ancient sages taught,
A never dying flame,
Still shifts thro’ matter’s varying forms,
In every form the same,
Beware, lest in the worm you crush
A brother’s soul you find;
And tremble lest thy luckless hand
Dislodge a kindred mind.
~ Anna L. Aikin (1773)
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)
I own I am shock’d at the purchase of slaves,
And fear those who buy them and sell them are knaves;
What I hear of their hardships, their tortures, and groans,
Is almost enough to draw pity from stones.
I pity them greatly, but I must be mum,
For how could we do without sugar and rum?
Especially sugar, so needful we see;
What, give up our desserts, our coffee, and tea!
Besides if we do, the French, Dutch and Danes
Will heartily thank us, no doubt, for our pains;
If we do not buy the poor creatures, they will;
And tortures and groans will be multiplied still.
~ William Cowper (1788)
It is evident beyond all controversy, that the removal of the Africans from the state of brutality, wretchedness, and misery in which they are at home so deeply involved, to this land of light, humanity, and christian knowledge, is to them so great a blessing.
~ Theodore Parsons (1773)
A Negro may be said to have fewer cares, and less reason to be anxious about tomorrow, than any other individual of our species … . They may be pronounced happier than the common people of many of the arbitrary governments in Europe.
~ Richard Nisbet (1773)