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A History of the Republican Party by Platt

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Thus

was the slave monster, a gigantic and hideous Frankenstein, created by the Christian nations, and long after, when it obtained its full growth, it was to fright them, retard their progress and result in dreadful retribution. The slave district began with the River Senegal on the west coast of Africa and continued a distance of fully 3000 miles to Cape Negro. The enormous sum of cruelty and wickedness which attended the slave trade throughout this vast territory can never be known, but may be partially imagined when we know that at its height fully 80,000 persons were torn from their homes annually, with all the attendant horrors of rapine, murder and the worst crimes of mankind.

The evil thus begun and fostered in Europe needed only a new impetus to make it grow beyond all bounds; owing to economical conditions, it would probably have died out in western Europe had it not been for the discovery of America, which almost immediately opened up a new and enormous market for slaves. The first Spanish settlement in the West Indies was called Hispaniola, now the Island of Haiti, and this Colony became the scene of the first use of negro slaves in the New World. A cruel fate seemed to be working out the enslavement of the African, for it is almost certain that Columbus in his first voyages did not take with him any slaves, and there seemed to be no thought of using them in this new Colony during the first few years after the discovery. The first negroes

were brought to Hispaniola about eight years after Columbus landed, but they were few in number, and it was probably not contemplated to use them in the fields and mines, for the Spaniards had an immense and almost inexhaustible supply of free labor at hand in the native population, who, by the avarice of the Spaniards, were almost immediately enslaved and compelled to work in the mines and on the farms. So greedy were the Spaniards to acquire sudden wealth, and so numerous the natives, that their lives were reckoned of no value, and so heartlessly cruel and inhuman was their treatment that the population of the island, which is given as about 800,000 in 1492, had decreased, it is estimated, one-third four years later, and twenty years later the native population is given as only 14,000. These figures are probably greatly exaggerated, but making all allowances they tell a frightful story.

The benevolent Las Casas, aroused by the frightful cruelties to the natives and their rapid destruction, began his successful opposition to Indian slavery; but, without knowing or intending it, his success was at the fearful cost of the Africans, who now began to be imported in large numbers to take the place of Indian slaves, and it was shortly discovered that one negro could do the work of four or five natives. Thus a new and growing market opened for slaves, and the slave trade of the New World became so profitable that Charles V. of Spain, desiring to reap the greatest benefit from it, granted, for a consideration, an exclusive right for eight years of supplying four thousand slaves per year to the Spanish Colonies. This seems to have been the first monopoly on the slave trade, but soon other nations were attracted by the ease and profit of the business, and the Dutch and English began early to engage their energies in the trade, and the latter, with their superior methods, greatly increased its profit and popularity. William Hawkins was the first Englishman to begin the slave trade, and made a trip to Guinea in 1530. In 1562 his son, John Hawkins, who was knighted later for his services by Queen Elizabeth, followed in his father's steps and carried away three hundred slaves to San Domingo. This voyage was repeated in 1564 and 1567 with great profit, and soon England had entered and was committed fully to the business. One hundred and fifty years later the traffic in negro slaves was considered the most profitable branch of British commerce.


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