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annually imported into the island, and complaints of the almost open manner in which the traffic is carried on under the very eye of the Captain-General; that he has been making fruitless efforts to get the Spanish government to declare the abominable traffic in men piracy; that he has successfully sought the liberation of the Emancipados, that is, men who have been fraudulently retained in bondage since 1817; and that he has endeavored to procure an abrogation of that intolerant and immoral law by which foreigners settling in Cuba are obliged to change their religion, on the somewhat startling principle (not understood elsewhere), that becoming bad men is a satisfactory preliminary to becoming good subjects.
To all this may be added the fact, that there are already several thousand coolies from China at work successfully in the cities and plantations as apprentices, and that the merchants are continually importing more. The merchants receive for them about one hundred and fifty dollars at the outset, and the purchaser, or rather hirer, must give them wages at the rate of four dollars per month, for eight years, after which they are at liberty to let themselves as best they may. There are great objections to this system. The apprentices will not find adequate protection from the government, and will be almost as much at the mercy of their employers as the slaves now are. But this movement must essentially modify the system of slavery, and exercise an important influence upon the destiny of the island. The new Captain-General has issued a decree suppressing the slave-trade, and authorizing instead thereof the introduction of free East-Indian laborers. In connection with this decree, new regulations were published respecting the Emancipados or negroes carried to Cuba by British men-of-war. It appears that neither these nor the apprentices will be more than nominally free. If they remain in the island, the Emancipados, like the apprentices, will be contracted for through the intervention of government, will be under the supervision of a Board of Protection to be composed partly of the syndics and corporation of Havana, and one fourth of their wages will be discounted for the benefit of the government. It may well be questioned whether this Board of Protection will secure justice to the apprentices, especially
as appeal to it will be exceedingly difficult for those who are upon plantations at a distance from Havana. But there is at least a show of mercy in some articles of the decree, whatever may be the obstacles in the way of its operation. One article provides for a change of service in behalf of those dis satisfied with their masters. As all contracts are to be made through this benevolent board, it will doubtless take ample heed for the government's share of the wages. Perhaps it would as appropriately be called the Board of Compulsion. Doubtless its protégés will be tempted to exclaim, "Save us from our friends!"
Such a decree as this, leaving employers and laborers at the mercy of officials, instead of securing redress of grievances by courts of justice, will be likely to result in a relation little better than that of master and slave. Whatever difference may remain between the condition of apprentice and that of the slave, will tend to produce discontent. The terms will be sufficiently advantageous to excite the ambition of the slaves, and restricted enough to fret and chafe the new immigrants, if not also the Emancipados. It is by no means certain that this discontent will end in insurrection and victory on the part of the blacks, Africanizing Cuba; but it can hardly fail to do something towards still further unsettling the already unstable condition of the island.
Among the signs that have looked toward a change in the political condition of Cuba must be mentioned the insurrectionary movements in 1841 and the two succeeding years, and the cruel means adopted by the government to suppress them, which every traveller for a century to come will hear spoken of with horror. The barbarity of the Spanish Inquisition of the fifteenth century hardly exceeded that of the officials of Cuba in 1843. Confessions were forced by the most cruel torture, and many a negro was put to death who was perfectly innocent. It seemed to be taken for granted that all were guilty of conspiracy. It is related that one of the officers, who was prosecuting attorney, judge, and executioner at the same time, namely, Don Ramon Gonzales, ordered his victims to be taken to a room which had been white-washed, and the walls of which were literally covered with blood and
small pieces of flesh, from the wretches who had preceded them. Here stood a bloody ladder, where the accused were tied, with their heads downward, and whether free or slaves, if they would not avow what the fiscal officer insinuated, they were whipped to death by two stout mulattoes selected for this purpose. They were scourged with leathern straps, hav ing at the end a small destructive button, made of fine wire. But it is not necessary to relate more particularly the sufferings of the blacks, both free and colored, or the cruelty and rapacity of the officers. The story could hardly be exagger ated. Such an arbitrary mode of suppressing an insurrection could only produce hatred and tend towards revolution. And, indeed, it is only when a government fails to command the affection and respect of the people, that it is necessary to exercise such cruelty.
Even the army sent from the old country shows occasional signs of discontent, and the soldiers are kept in subordination. only by constantly shifting them, regiment by regiment, from one military station to another, that no such intimacy may spring up as to enable them to combine and conspire.
The case of the steamer Black Warrior, which for some years has plied between New York and Mobile, touching at Havana, has produced great sensation in the community, and has proved a good test of the disposition of our present administration regarding Cuba. Doubtless the agents of the steamer violated a revenue law of the port of Havana, in representing her as "in ballast," when she had cotton on board, and they should have had it entered at the custom-house as in transit. A duty is required on the cargo of all vessels entering or leaving the port, even if no goods should be landed or received there. The agent's excuse to the authorities, that, "as far as regards Havana, she is in ballast; she neither brings cargo to Havana nor takes it away, it matters not whether her ballast be bales of cotton or stone," is a poor subterfuge. The advantage of the twelve hours allowed by law to correct a manifest was claimed; but was refused on the ground that the clearance visit had been applied for. Probably it would have been sufficient reason for a refusal, that the privilege was intended for the correction of uninten
tional errors only. The British steamers have always submitted to precisely what was required of the Black Warrior, entering all cargoes that were in transit.
On the other hand, it is asserted that the Black Warrior has entered the harbor of Havana some thirty-six times, her manifest always representing her as "in ballast"; that the steamers of the George Law and other lines have probably entered at least three hundred times and with similar manifests; that this fact has been well known to the authorities; and moreover, that full cargoes have been repeatedly transferred from one of these steamers to another, under the eye of the officers of government. Indeed, we are constrained to believe that the government cannot plead ignorance of such violation of its laws, since officers have always been sent on board of the steamers upon their arrival, and kept there during their stay, for the prevention of 'contraband trade. The laws had been violated so long and so notoriously by the American steamers with impunity, that the owners of the Black Warrior had a right to expect, as a matter of courtesy at least, that due notice. would be given before enforcing them. The authorities will probably attempt to show that such notice was given. Should they fail to do so, it will be time to be indignant. But we should earnestly deprecate any efforts to use such an incivility as an occasion for war with Spain and for the capture of Cuba.
It may be construed into an acknowledgment of fault, that a messenger was sent from Havana to the Spanish legation at Washington, with an offer to pay damages to the owners of the steamship. But this may only be an indication of a disinclination on the part of the Governor-General to get into trouble with the United States. On the other hand, it may be regarded as an acknowledgment of fault on the part of the owners of the Black Warrior, that they have consented to take back the vessel after having abandoned it, and to pay, though under protest, a fine of six thousand dollars. And the acknowledgment is the more clear, if, as is stated, they have petitioned the Queen, in supplicatory terms, to remit the fine. Our government has sent a special messenger to Mr. Soulé, its Minister at the Court of Spain, to demand immediate satis
faction; and from the tenor of the President's message to the House of Representatives on this subject, and from the fact that France and England are now engaged in the European war, and therefore cannot render aid against us, there seemed ground for apprehending, on the part of our government, injustice to Spain, if not measures of open hostility. Recent despatches from Madrid are, we regret, not adapted to remove such fears.
We have introduced the Black Warrior affair as having an important bearing on the political relations between our own country and Cuba. There are indeed many indications of an approaching change in the condition of that island; and in what direction shall that change be? Cuba will perhaps become independent. Yet her people will hardly be able to sustain their independence, heterogeneous as they are, and unaccustomed to bear any part in church or state. England cannot hold the island without coming into perpetual conflict with our government. Besides, England has too many colonies already for her navy, immense and powerful as it is. It is the "manifest destiny" of the island to come, sooner or later, into the possession of the United States. There is one course of action by which a revolution may be anticipated, and that is by peaceable cession. No laws of morality will allow our nation to fight for it, though she might easily wrest it from poor, weak Spain; nor must we permit any private expeditions; but it might be to our advantage to purchase it, and it would be greatly to the advantage of the Cubans themselves.
Ah! but there is the question of slavery. Regarding this question in the abstract, it presents a great objection. We wish to have nothing to do with the institution. But looking at things as they are, it appears not improbable, notwithstanding the expectations of our Southern fellow-citizens to the contrary, that, in case of annexation, slaves in large numbers would be transported from the States where their labor is now unprofitable, or comparatively so, to those rich and productive sugar estates, rendered far more profitable as they would be by free trade with us and diminished restrictions of trade with other countries. Thus, such States as Virginia, Kentucky, and Delaware would the more speedily become free. NO. 164.