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Letter to the Editor
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Mr. Editor: - Last niglit I attended a lecture at the Tremont Rev. George L. Hovey, who with five other gentlemen, went out from this country as self-constituted missionaries to the emaneipated slaves of Jamaica in 1839 ; and whose opportunities, during a residence of several years in that Island, of becoming thoroughly acquainted with the workings of emancipation, render him a competent witness in the case. Should the following brief abstracts of his remarks be deemed of sufficient interest to warrant an insertion in yourcolumns,itis at your disposal. The Rev. gentleman commenced by saying that he did not appear as the advocate of any party or theory of emancipation; but he wished to state facts within his knowledge, and to which he had been an eye witness, and he hoped they would prove interesting to his hearers. State of the Mand previous to Emancipaiion. Much had been said by tbose opposcd to emancipution, with the design of making t appear that its results in the Wesi Indies had been disastrous to all concernetl.t In order to _npnreciote, jsíly lije operations of freedom,it would be necessary to go back and examine into the condition of ihose Islands for many years previous to the liberation of the blacks. The Rev. gentleman here iniroduced various extracis from the reportsof committees nppointed by the House of Assembly going to show that the plantations were ruinously in debt - covered with mortgages, executions, &c.,&c., with no apparent prospect of aught before them but utter ruin to all the planier?. Among other tliings brought before the notice of ihe House, was, the alnrming decrease oftheslave population. For a number of years Jamaica had lost 2000 of her population annually ; and otlier Islands in proportion. All tbis would go toshow that whatever may be the present condi'.ion of these Islands, ruin had commenced its desolating march vears previous to emancipation, and was progressingwith such giant strides that no counleracting cause could mmedialely arrest is progress and restore those Isknds to a complete state of prosperity. Comparisons goijig to show the Results of Emancipation. In Jamaica alone, in ten years after emancipation, the increase of children, undersix years of age,was20,510.instead of a loss of 2000 annually. Real estáte has continued, in some insiances, to deprecíate, though at a less rapid rale. The Governor, a short time previous to hisleaving, wrote to him that he might assure the friends of freedom in America, that whatever appearances might indicate, as to their lack of prosperity, this state of things was nol owing to emancipation, but arose from other causes, &c. Ëxports had beer. falling off, for many years, at a rnpid rate, and continued to fall off till 1840, since which they have been gradually increasing. Besides, sugarandcoffee, their principal exports, have been consumed to a very large amount, since emancipation, by the negroes. Formerly, sugar was protected by the British Parliament 10 ets. per pound ; lalterly, only 1 1-9 cents per pound ; making it far less an object to exporl ; besides, tltis was one great cause for the recent depreciation in real estáte. At ihe time of emancipation, propably not fiveploughs could be ibund in Jamiaca. All lafidsunder cuhivation were wed up by the slaves. Now, ploughs,culivators, and various other agricultural implements, are quite common. All internal improvetnents have received their origin since emaneipation. A rail ïoad is building lo extend round the lsland; thirty miles of itare already plcted, with various other public works. Perfect Confidence and Security as to Life and Projerly. During the continunnce of slavery men went armed about their business, and sJept with arms under their pillows. - Since emancipation, thousands of stands of arms have been put into the hands of the liberated slaves, and a we!l organaized mililia system established among them. Crime. - At the end of three years from the date of emancipation, only three murders had been committed in the Island - two of these by foreigners, and one by an emancipated slave ; and th is iua population of 400,000,of whom 300,000 hndjust been liberated. Vagrancy. - A vagrant law hod been passed as a pecautionary measure, to go into effect with emancipation. It is worthyof note that this law did not have respect to color, consequently white men were subject to its penaliies. Severa! years after, an inquiry was instituted to ascertain how many of the liberated slaves had been nrrested as vagrants, and it was found that not one had been, though a number of while men had been enrolled on the list. Marriage. - At the time of emancipation there could not have been fifty married planters in Jamaica. Negroes had never heard that they could be married. In 3 years afterwards 28,000 marriages had been recorded. Now, amalgamation of colored with white people is scarcely known ; formerly very common. Prejudice against color had disappeared to a great extent. Colored lawyers, doctors, editors, &c, are seen at the Governor's levees, and at balls, leading in the dance with the Governor's daughter ; and no one is so fastidious as to iind fault. - Other indica'.ions of prosperity might be seen in the increase of wages, in the enactment of judicious laws for the benefit of all classes - in the improvement of the dwellings of the emancipated - tlieir furniture, food, dress, and mode of doing their work. They are also rapidly becoming freeholders, on a small scale, so as to become legal votcrs. It should be borne in mind that there is a class who have slwaya boon oppcscd to emancipador), to whom some of these indications of prosperity to the freedman may seem to be adverse, and of which they loudly complain. For inslance, much has been said because the slave would not work for just what the planter chose to give. Previous to the distribulion of the 20 millions amongthe phnters, they were called upon to tesüfy, under oath, what was the valué o( their slave's dnily labor. Thinking that the money would be opportioned among them according to the price which they fixed upon the labor, they swore it was worth 37 cents per day. The slaves knew this ; and whcn they had obtained their liberty they remembered it. The planters got togetlier to agree on the price they would pay for labor, and fixed it at eighteen cents. They told the negroes to go to work and they would pay them. " II o w much, massa V' " Eighteen cents per day." They demanded the 37 cents,and refused to work for Iess. They could afford to lay síill longer than the planter could afford to have his crops neglecled : consequently, the planter had to give 37 cents. Another difficulty rhen aróse. Thelaw under the apprenticeship system had specified wkat should be a day's work. W hen this was accomplished the negroes shouldered their tools and started hameward. Thoy were met by the overseer, or planter, who demanded where they were going. "Home, Masa. Dayswork all done." "Day's work done ! it is only noon! You must work till nio-ht." " Guess the law know what day's work be, massa." Of course, those who had so long been nccustomed to unlimilec! power could not reaoncile themselves without amurmerto the idea of meeting those as men, on an equal footing, asto rights, whom they had so recently tyrannized over as brutes. Another feature has appearaed as tlie result of emancipation. Many of the plantations now number more laborers than formerly, in consequence of the return of the runaways to their old homes. The negroes are extreniely attached to their homes, and to the graves of their ancestors. - From this he argued that the fear expressel by many, that if slavery was abolished in the United States the slaves would all come to the north, had no foundation in philosophy or fact. On the contrary, those who had fled to the cold, barren reg ons of the north would liasten back to their sunny homes. During the existence of slavery.oxen were ra ely employed,as they could not be worked to advantnge. When used, the negroes would be sent out to get the cattle togelher - some 40 or 50 of hem in s yard. Of coursp, they would not feel interest enough to hurry, and perhnps it was ïl or 12, A.M., before they were yarded. The nextthing was to yoke them. 'To do this, a rope was procured, a slip-iioose made, the cattle huddled togetheand the rope thrown upon the horns of one. This done, the animal was haulfd up and made fast to a post. Theri -nnother rope was procured - another hunda] cnuglit and fastened in the sané way, and so on. till a team was fastenld up. Thcn ihey were yoked, heifers arfl steers togeiher, as it happened ; they jhowing no respect to sex - notbeing nccjstomed to such respect in their own persons. Tben a great, lumbering cart, s' big thnt if could not be broken. 'vpr iiWÍ u.i by ''.o negröes to the oxen and made fast. The team is then ready fof a start. A stout negro takes a rope and fastens it in the ring in the forward stecr's nose, and goes forward to ;!ead. The remaining negroes arrange íhemselves on either side and "shoo the team along," making as much noise as the farmers in this country do in drawing a barn. With all this team theywould draw about as much as one yoke of good oxen would draw at a load. And t ofien hnppened that Iwo or threeofthe cattle would be melted down in one day.