Take up the White Man’s burden –
Ye dare not stoop to less –
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloak your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your Gods and you…
– Rudyard Kipling, from The White Man’s Burden (1)
African slaves – purchased from African kings and slavers (2) – were first brought to the New World in1503 to the Island of Hispaniola. Eventually all the commercial nations of Europe were involved in the trade, and all their colonies in the Americas were supplied with them. Virginia received her first shipment from a Dutch Man-o’-War in 1619, but the carrying trade was left to Englishmen and to the illicit trade of the commercial colonies of New England. (3)
The pious “Puritan Fathers” of Massachusetts got into slavery early on with the enslavement of the Indians, but quickly got into the African slave-trade seventeen years after landing at Plymouth Rock. As The Rev. Robert Louis Dabney noted, “[I]t may be correctly said, that the commerce of New England was born of the slave trade; as its subsequent prosperity was largely founded upon it…” (4). Even after the trade was outlawed in the Constitution in 1808, New York, Boston, and Portland were the largest African slave trading ports in the world – doing illicit trading with Cuba and Brazil – when Lincoln took his oath of office (5).
As Dr. Dabney noted, “It is one of the strange freaks of history that this commonwealth, which was guiltless in this thing, and which always presented a steady protest against the enormity, should become, in spite of herself, the home of the largest number of African slaves found within any of the States, and thus, should be held up by Abolitionists as the representative of the ‘sin of slaveholding;’ while Massachusetts, which was, next to England, the pioneer and patroness of the slave trade, and chief criminal, having gained for her share the wages of iniquity instead of the persons of the victims, has arrogated to herself the post of chief accuser of Virginia…” (6)
But as John Randolph of Roanoke said, blood will tell in a four-mile heat (7). The “four-mile heat” was run in 1861-1865, and the blood of the Yankee and his altruism for the Black people showed itself in full relief…
Edward A. Pollard, editor of the Richmond Examiner during the war, reported:
The fact is indisputable, that in all the localities of the Confederacy where the enemy had obtained a foothold, the negroes had been reduced by mortality during the war to not more than one-half their previous number… In the winter of 1863-64, the Governor of Louisiana, in his official message, published to the world the appalling fact, that more negroes had perished in Louisiana from the cruelty and brutality of the public enemy than the combined number of white men, in both armies, from the casualties of war… The condition of the negroes at the various contraband camps in the Mississippi valley furnishes a terrible volume of human misery, which may someday be written in the frightful characters of truth. Congregated at these depots, without employment, deprived of the food to which they had been accustomed, and often without shelter or medical care, these helpless creatures perished, swept off by pestilence or the cruelties of the Yankees.