Twenty Reasons for Total Abstinence from Slave-Labour Produce (XHTML)
TOTAL ABSTINENCE FROM SLAVE-LABOUR PRODUCE.
BY ELIHU BURRITT.
1. Because all the products of the labour of the slave are the fruits of an aggravated robbery perpetrated upon him daily, and are therefore stained with all the crime and guilt that can attach to stolen goods.
2. The voluntary consumption of the produce of the slave’s labour is a participation in the sin of the system that holds him in bondage.
3. It is one of the first and most important duties enjoined upon the Christian, to make his practice square with his profession. Whilst, therefore, he sanctions and supports by his daily practice a system which he condemns as exceedingly sinful by his professions, his own conscience, as well as the world, testifies to his inconsistency, and his advocacy of the right is weakened if not wholly silenced by the discrepancy.
4. The slaveholders themselves declare that total abstinence from slave-labour produce would as surely abolish slavery as the day follows night; and they taunt the abolitionists with insincerity in not adopting a course which would put an end to the evil they so loudly condemn.
5. Abstinence from slave-labour produce, so far from being a substitute for any other anti-slavery efforts, would increase their number and variety, and give them all a point and a power which they now lack. It would create the occasion for more numerous anti-slavery meetings, and give a force and emphasis to resolutions, addresses, and remonstrances against slavery, which the slaveholder could not resist.
6. It is a mode of anti-slavery action in which every man, woman, and child may take a part every day, at every meal, in every article of dress they wear and enjoy. And this silent, daily testimony would tend to keep their anti-slavery sentiments active, out-spoke, and ever working in their spheres of influence.
7. It is a measure that does not trench upon any principle of free trade. It asks the interference of no legislation against the introduction or use of slave-labour produce. It requires no petitions to parliaments, diets, national assemblies, cortes, or congresses. It involves nothing but the free, voluntary legislation of the individual conscience upon articles of household or personal consumption. It is no more opposed to the fullest development of free trade than is the exercise of individual taste or fancy in supplying the table or wardrobe.
8. It is a measure which should commend itself especially to the abolitionists of the United Kingdom; because probably full three-fourths of all the human sinews bought and sold on the earth are worked under the lash to supply the British market; whilst there are free soil and free labour enough within the British dominions to produce all the cotton, sugar, coffee, and rice the world could consume. The whole value of the exports of domestic produce of the United States to foreign countries, during the year 1849, amounted to £26,500,000. Of this amount, the value of the exports to Great Britain and its dependencies was £17,700,000. The exports from the Slave States amounted to £16,000,000; of which cotton supplied £13,280,000; tobacco, £1,160,000; and rice, £514,000. Great Britain and its dependencies took £9,560,000 worth, or nearly three-fourths of this cotton, and probably a larger proportion of the rice and tobacco.
9. A large number of slaves in Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and Missouri, are employed in producing corn, pork, bacon, &c., for the slaves on the cotton, sugar, and rice plantations of the more southern slave States. It is probably, therefore, this side of the truth to say, that full three-fourths of all the slaves in the United States are em-
ployed, directly or indirectly, in supplying the British market alone. The money-value of every slave in America is determined by the price of cotton in England. The hammer of the Liverpool cotton-broker, and that which knocks off Uncle Tom at the slave-auction in New Orleans, descend by the same law of commercial gravitation. A penny a pound advance on cotton in Liverpool adds £40 to Uncle Tom’s market value on the auction-block; and vice versa. At this moment, the cotton trade in Lancashire is very brisk and prosperous. A great many new mills are being erected, and, in consequence, the value of slaves in the United States has risen from £150 to £200/
10. The free Staes, and those slave States in which cotton, rice, and sugar cannot be grown, not only supply the American market with all the corn, potatoes, pork, bacon, and other provisions which it demands, but also export a vast quantity of these articles to foreign countries. Even if the climate and soil of the cotton-growing States were suited to the production of these articles, there would be no market for them at home or abroad. They must continue to grow cotton, rice, and sugar, whether by slave or free labour, or their plantations must remain untilled. This is the only alternative possible.
11. If the British market were closed against American cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco for three years, three-fourths of the land occupied with their production would be reduced virtually to a wilderness; three-fourths of all the slaves in the United States would be without employment–a burden upon the planters, which would bankrupt them, unless set at liberty.
12. If there were a movement set on foot in Great Britain which would, in the view of the slaveholders, close the British market against their productions at the end of ten years, if they persisted in adhering to their system up to that time, they would doubtless emancipate their slaves immediately, and adopt the system of free labour. For they would not risk the loss of the British market for any consideration which the existence of slavery could supply. The same would be true of the slaveholders of Brazil and Cuba.
13. A movement of this kind must have a strong moral as well as commercial principle for its motive-power. For if it were organised on mere commercial grounds, the slaveholders would be emboldened to run the hazard of a competition with the cotton, sugar, and coffee growers of the British dominions. But if the enlightened conscience of a Christian community could be associated with commerce in the enterprise–if the movement could be backed, ensouled, and propelled by deep moral convictions, the slaveholders would be obliged to give over the struggle as hopeless.
14. A great movement, based upon the commercial motive, is now being organised to supply the British market with cotton, &c., grown in India and other British possessions. The wealthy and influential manufacturers of Lancashire have set their hands to this enterprise with energetic determination. The Government appreciates its importance, and is willing to promote its success. Roads, railways, improvement of river navigation, are to be the order to the day in India, with the view of extending the cultivation and facilitating the transportation of cotton grown by free labour. It is not that the manufacturers of Lancashire are influenced by any moral objection to slave labour, as such, but that they fear it will not be able to supply, without interruption, their mills with the quantity they demand. Besides, they deem it hazardous to depend upon one country for this important article, which would be cut off in case of a war between the two nations. Total abstinence from slave-labour produce, because it is stained with the crime of theft and oppression, would give to this commercial movement a new element, aspect, and power, and make it irresistible to the overthrow of slavery throughout the world.
15. A movement thus embodying both the moral and commercial principle would not only stimulate the production of cotton, sugar, rice, &c., by free labour in the British dominions, but also in the United States, Brazil, and Cuba. And it is of the utmost importance that the free-labour system of production should be brought immediately
under the eyes of the slaveholder, upon the same soil as his own plantation, that the example may tell upon him with undiminished effect.
16. There never was a more favorable juncture for extending the cultivation of cotton by free labour in the American slave States, than at the present moment. For more than thirty years a considerable amount has been grown by small farmers, scattered among the large plantations. These men till from fifty to 100 acres of land with their own hands, chiefly because they are too poor to own a slave. They produce annually four or five bales, which they sell, of course, at the current price; thus competing with the wealthy planter with all his slaves, capital, and machinery. The Free-Labour-Produce Association of Philadelphia has sent forth agents to find out these small farmers, and to purchase their cotton. It is impossible to conjecture how many of them are scattered through the slave States, but probably there are many thousands. A discussion has already commenced, in some of the southern reviews, in reference to the comparative economy of free and slave labour. The slaves, it is stated, “are running away by battalions,” from the more northern slave States. Many planters have recently emancipated their slaves, and are cultivating their lands by free labour. Cassius M. Clay, one of the most influential of their number, has published his success to the world. He says that he finds no difficulty in hiring white labour according to his need, and at reasonable rates. He hires, also, a portion of his former slaves for wages, mutually satisfactory; and whereas his farm used to run him in debt, or at least yield him no profit, he is now making money by it. Every such experiment of free labour in the slave States is exerting a powerful influence in favour of the system. A planter recently went all the way from Georgia to New York to engage men to work on his plantation; “because,” as he said, “white labour can be employed more economically than that of hired slaves.”
17. A demand for free-labour productions, created and steadily increased by the pressure of Christian convictions as well as commercial motives, would draw them into the British market, in ever-widening streams, from all the countries in which they are grown. And in no country would it probably take a more immediate and decided effect upon slavery than in the United States.
18. During the great struggle against the slave-trade, Clarkson estimated that 300,000 persons in Great Britain abstained from sugar entirely, rather than support the inhuman traffic by its use. The friends of the slave are not now called upon to test their sincerity by such a privation. More than one half of the sugars in the British market are free-grown, and may be procured, with a little care, in every considerable town in the kingdom. An earnest demand for them will ensure a supply. A large wholesale depôt has just been established in London, for supplying provincial grocers with free-labour sugars of all kinds, rice, coffee, &c., of as good quality and on as cheap terms as the slave-grown articles in the market. Not an article stained with the guilt of slavery will find an access to this establishment, and it will furnish a satisfactory guarantee to the purity of all it supplies to the grocers in the provinces.
19. There is already a sufficient supply of free-labour cotton, to meet the demand of those who are thoroughly convinced that the voluntary consumption of the products of the slave is a participation in the crime of the system that holds him in bondage. This supply will constantly increase with the demand. A house in Manchester, worthy of unwavering confidence, has undertaken to collect the free-labour cotton as it comes in from different countries, and to supply the public with all the various goods into which it can be manufactured. Small depôts of these goods are being established in different towns, and in quality and price they compare favourably with articles of the same kind made of slave-grown cotton. A depôt has just been opened in London, chiefly for promoting the establishment of similar ones in all the provincial towns, by enabling them to obtain easily an adequate supply. The movement has commenced under favourable
auspices, with encouraging prospects in every direction. The commercial interests and the Christian convictions of the community are first uniting to give this movement irresistible power. God and humanity “expect that every man will do his duty” to the slave, at this important moment, when that duty is so clearly revealed by the manifestations of the Divine mind and will.
20. The present moment is a most auspicious juncture for organizing that deep, earnest, wide-spread sympathy which has been excited in behalf of the slave by the powerful delineations of his condition in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” This book seems to bear the impress of a Divine mission. It has been translated into nearly all the languages of Europe, and it has been read by millions and millions throughout Christendom. The distinguished writer has commended abstinence from slave-labour produce in the first circles of English society, as a measure which would be most effective for the speedy overthrow of the inhuman system which she has depicted with such irresistible truthfulness and power. People in all ranks of life are beginning to consider this Anti-Slavery movement with serious attention, and there is every reason to believe that it will soon obtain their convictions and co-operation.
Free-Labour Depot for Cotton Goods
This establishment, which was temporarily located in Blomfield Street, Finsbury Circus, has been removed to more capacious premises in No. 22, Broad Street Buildings, London. A stock of all the various articles of free-labour cotton manufactured in the kingdom will be kept constantly on hand, including bleached and unbleached calicoes, printed cambrics, muslins, &c. The only object of opening this depot is to promote a great and philanthropic movement for the abolition of slavery throughout the world, and it will endeavour to assist in establishing similar depôts in the provincial towns, by supplying them with any lengths or parts of pieces at the wholesale prices. As it is determined to furnish these articles at the same price as articles produced by slave-labour of the same quality, it will be indispensably necessary that all the purchases shall be paid for in cash on their delivery. Samples sent by post, if desired. Address—Mrs. Inglis, Free-Labour Depôt, No. 22, Broad Street Buildings, London.
All the Free-Labour Cotton in the British market comes from the following countries: —British India; Egypt; Natal, in South Africa; British West Indies; the United States, with certificate, chiefly collected by the Free-Labour-Produce Association of Philadelphia. From this raw material are manufactured, Unbleached Shirtings and Sheeting; White Calicoes; Printed Cambrics of various patterns; Printed Muslins; Plain Chambreys; Lustres; Ginghams; Dimities; Checked Muslins; Rolled Jaconet Linings; Hosiery; Knitting and Sewing Cotton; Irish Hand-Knit Hosiery and Crochet Work, &c.
Free-Labour Depot for Groceries
A large wholesale and retail Depôt, for the supply of free-labour sugars of all kinds, rice, coffee, &c., has been opened by Wm. Lees, No. 72, Bishopsgate Within, London. Grocers throughout the kingdom will be supplied with these articles, as of good quality, and on as favourable terms, as similar articles of slave-labour procured of any dealer in the city. A satisfactory certificate to their purity from the taint of slavery will be furnished to all retail or wholesale customers who desire it.
The Free-Labour Groceries are as follow: —
Sugar—British West India, St. Croix, Mauritius, Benegal, Dhobah, Cossipore, Madras, Java, Manilla; Loaf Sugar, manufactured from any of the above.
Coffee—British West India, Ceylon, Plantation Ceylon, St. Domingo, Manilla, Java, Costa Rica.
Rice—Italian, Patna, Moulmein, Madras, Java.
Spices—Cinnamon, Cassia, Nutmegs, Pimento, Ginger, British Colonial.
Sago, Arrowroot, Tapioca—British Colonial.
J. Unwin, Gresham Steam Press, 31, Bucklersbury.