New York Times, “The Captured Slaver,” May 1, 1857

    Source citation
    “The Captured Slaver,” New York Times, May 1, 1857, p. 4: 3.
    Newspaper: Publication
    New York Daily Times
    Newspaper: Headline
    The Captured Slaver
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    Newspaper: Column
    Date Certainty
    Scott Ackerman, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print.  Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    The Captured Slaver.

    The story of the slaver captured off the Cuban coast, as published in the TIMES of yesterday, has doubtless attracted the attention of our readers. We hear enough of the iniquities, of the horrible atrocities, committed in the prosecution of the trade. We know that in despite of treaties, laws, and armed cruisers, it still continues to flourish, but it is seldom that the guilty are detected flagrante delicto or that the details of the monstrous crime brought to light.

    The slaver to which we refer was a schooner of only 150 tons burden; and yet, within the narrow limits of this diminutive craft, five hundred human beings were crammed. Each captive was allowed a space of eighteen inches “to turn in” and, once a day, the unfortunate wretches were driven in herds to the deck, there to breathe for a passing moment the pure air of Heaven. They were stolen from their homes on the African coast and were to be slaves in Cuba: and the robber and murderer, who thus trafficked in the souls and bodies of men, doubtless calculated that by the sale of his cargo he would make up for others he had lost-for slaves will die on such a terrible voyage. The horrors of the middle passage have often been told; but, until some special case like the present is brought home to us, we are apt to regard the stories related as some hideous invention. We find it impossible to believe that lust of gain should so utterly possess the souls of men, that they could become so debased as to live under the weight of such damning guilt. Among the five hundred Africans captured on this occasion, very few had reached the age of twenty; there were many females among them; and during a voyage of twenty nine days, no less than one hundred and twenty seven had died from close confinement and starvation. The remainder, when the schooner was so fortunately captured by the British brig of war Arab, were found packed closely together-all naked, and imbedded in dirt and vermin, a picture of wretchedness, and misery, and suffering, to excite the compassion or indignation of anyone but a slave trader. The starving wretches were brought into St. Anne’s, and, unable to control themselves, they fought for the food placed before them with the ferocity of famished brutes.

    It is not merely to the atrocities and horrors of this, as an isolated case, that we would direct attention. These iniquities are of frequent occurrence. The slave trade is almost as flourishing now as it ever was in its palmiest days, and the partial watchfulness of cruisers only heightens the cruelties inflicted on the captives. The vessels engaged in the traffic are built flat bottomed, so that they can be driven into shore when pursued, and the slaves then left to perish. It is notorious that a large number of schooners are employed in the trade, and with impunity land their cargoes on the coast of Cuba. Almost every letter that we receive from Havana announces the arrival of some fresh installment. The authorities of the Island are unable or unwilling to stop the practice, and the existing treaties are openly violated.

    We see it stated that the continuance of the slave trade will be brought before the British Parliament as soon as it assembles. We trust that the subject will receive the serious attention of that body. And we earnestly home that our own Government will not remain idle, but will lend all proper cooperation towards the suppression of this great wrong, still openly encouraged by Spain, to her own disgrace and the shame of our civilization.

    It is only just to say that the United States authorities at this port have always been commendably vigilant in their efforts to detect vessels fitted out there for the slave trade, and that the new Marshal (Captain RYNDERS) has been especially active and resolute in this service. Our columns this morning record the details of another capture effected by this officer yesterday.

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