An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species by Thomas Clarkson

By Thomas Clarkson

Because the topic of the next paintings has thankfully develop into of past due a topick of dialog i will not start the preface in a way extra passable to the emotions of the benevolent reader than through giving an account of these humane and important people who've endeavoured to attract upon it that percentage of the publick recognition which it has bought.

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Additional info for An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species Particularly the African: Translated from a Latin Dissertation Which Was Honoured With the First Prize in the University of Cambridge, for the Year 1785, With Additions

Sample text

We may consider also, as a farther confirmation, that it is impossible, in the nature of things, that liberty can be bought or sold! It is neither saleable, nor purchasable. For if any one man can have an absolute property in the liberty of another, or, in other words, if he, who is called a master, can have a just right to command the actions of him, who is called a slave, it is evident that the latter cannot be accountable for those crimes, which the former may order him to commit. Now as every reasonable being is accountable for his actions, it is evident, that such a right cannot justly exist, and that human liberty, of course, is beyond the possibility either of sale or purchase.

But if kings then, to whom their own people have granted dominion and power, are unable to invade the liberties of their harmless subjects, without the highest injustice; how can those private persons be justified, who treacherously lie in wait for their fellowcreatures, and sell them into slavery? What arguments can they possibly bring in their defence? What treaty of empire can they produce, by which their innocent victims ever resigned to them the least portion of their liberty? In vain will they plead the antiquity of the custom: in vain will the honourable light, in which piracy was considered in the ages of barbarism, afford them an excuse.

Now, as the actions of the father and the child must be thus at the sole disposal of their common master, it is evident, that the authority of the one, as a parent, and the duty of the other, as a child, must be instantly annihilated; rights and obligations, which, as they are sounded in nature, are implanted in our feelings, and are established by the voice of God, must contain in their annihilation a solid argument to prove, that there cannot be any property whatever in the human species. We may consider also, as a farther confirmation, that it is impossible, in the nature of things, that liberty can be bought or sold!

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