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SLAVERY OF. THE AFRICANS,
SHOWING IT TO BE THE
DUTY AND INTEREST OF THE AMERICAN COLONIES TO
ADDRESS TO THE OWNERS OF SUCH SLAVES.
THE HONORABLE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS.
"Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy."— PR. xxxi. 9.
"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also
to them likewise."— LUKE vi. 31
THE first edition of the following Dialogue, written by Dr. Hopkins, was published in 1776. The second edition was published by the New York Manumission Society, established in New York, January, 1785, under the presidency of John Jay, then secretary of state for foreign affairs.
EXTRACT FROM THE MINUTES OF SAID SOCIETY.
"Dec. 11, 1785. Resolved, That the Standing Committee take order for printing two thousand copies of a pamphlet, entitled 'A Dialogue concerning the Slavery of the Africans; showing it to be the Duty and Interest of the American Colonies to emancipate all the African Slaves: with an Address to the Owners of such Slaves. Dedicated to the Honorable Continental Congress, and published at Norwich, 1776.'
"Feb. 3, 1786. Resolved, That each of the members of Congress, and of the senate and assembly of this state, be furnished with one of the pamphlets, entitled, 'A Dialogue on the Slavery of the Africans,' etc."
It may show something of the estimation in which Dr. Hopkins was held as a writer, and his influence as a man, as also the views of distinguished men of that day, to state further that the mayor of the city of New York, Hon. James Duane, Hon. Robert R. Livingston, then chancellor of the state of New York, and Hon. Alexander Hamilton, were active members of the society which adopted and published this Dialogue; and also that Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the treasury, was, in 1790, elected president of the society in the place of John Jay, who resigned on being appointed chief justice of the United States.
It is supposed to be owing to the influence of this Dialogue, that, in May, 1786, a petition was submitted and adopted by the society, praying the legislature of New York to prohibit the exportation of slaves. It commenced as follows: "Your memorialists, being deeply affected by the situation of those who, although free by the laws of God, are held in slavery by the laws of this state, view with pain and regret the additional miseries which these unhappy people experience from the practice of exporting them like cattle to the West Indies and the Southern States." This petition was drafted and headed by the president, John Jay, and also signed by Robert R. Livingston, chancellor, and Alexander Hamilton, and the clergy of the city of New York.
THE HONORABLE MEMBERS OF THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS,
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE THIRTEEN UNITED AMERICAN COLONIES.*
As God, the great Father of the universe, has made you the fathers of these colonies, and in answer to the prayers of his people given you counsel, and that wisdom and integrity in the exertion of which you have been such great and extensive blessings, and obtained the approbation and applause of your constituents and the respect and veneration of the nations in whose sight you have acted in the important, noble struggle for LIBERTY, we naturally look to you in behalf of more than half a million of persons in these colonies, who are under such a degree of oppression and tyranny as to be wholly deprived of all civil and personal liberty, to which they have as good a right as any of their fellow-men, and are reduced to the most abject state of bondage and slavery without any just cause.
We have particular encouragement thus to apply to you, since you have had the honor and happiness of leading these colonies to resolve to stop the slave trade, and to buy no more slaves imported from Africa. We have the satisfaction of the best assurances that you have done this not merely from political reasons, but from a conviction of the unrighteousness and cruelty of that trade, and a regard to justice and benevolence, deeply sensible of the inconsistence of promoting the slavery of the Africans, at the same time we are asserting our own civil liberty at the risk of our fortunes and lives. This leaves in our minds no doubt of your being sensible of the equal unrighteousness and oppression, as well as inconsistence with ourselves, in holding so many hundreds of thousands of blacks in slavery, who have an equal right to freedom with ourselves, while we are maintaining this struggle for our own and our children's liberty; and a hope and confidence that the cries and tears of these oppressed will be regarded by you, and that your wisdom and
The reader is desired to observe that the first edition of this Dialogue was published early in the year 1776, before the declaration of our independence.
the great influence you have in these colonies will be so properly and effectually exerted as to bring about a total abolition of slavery, in such a manner as shall greatly promote the happiness of those oppressed strangers and the best interest of the public.
There are many difficulties and obstacles, we are sensible, in the way of this good work; but when the propriety, importance, and necessity of it come into view, we think ourselves warranted to address you in the words spoken to Ezra on an occasion not wholly dissimilar: "Arise, for this matter belongeth unto you; we also will be with you: be of good courage and do it."
The righteous and merciful Governor of the world has given the greatest encouragement to go on, and thoroughly execute judgment, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, both in his word, and in the wonderful things he has done for us since we have begun to reform this public iniquity. But, if we stop here, what will be the consequence?
It is observable that when the Swiss were engaged in their struggle for liberty, in which they so remarkably succo cceeded, they entered into the following public resolve: "No Swiss shall take away any thing by violence from another, neither in time of war nor peace." How reasonable and important is it that we should at this time heartily enter into, and thoroughly execute, such a resolution! And that this implies the emancipation of all our African slaves, surely none can doubt.
In this view the following Dialogue is humbly offered to your perusal, hoping that it may have your approbation and patronage.
May you judge the poor of the people, save the children of the needy, relieve the oppressed, and deliver the spoiled out of the hands of the oppressor, and be the happy instruments of procuring and establishing universal liberty to white and black, to be transmitted down to the latest posterity.
With high esteem, and the most friendly sentiments,
Your very humble servants,