William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

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The Selling of Joseph



Forasmuch as Liberty is in real
value next unto Life: None ought
to part withit themselves, or
deprive others of it, but
upon most mature
Consideration.


The Numerousness of Slaves at this day in the Province, and the Uneasiness
of them under their Slavery, haht put many upon thinking whether the
Foundation of it be firmly and well laid; so as to sustain the Vast Weight
that is built upon it. It is most certain that all Men, as they are the Sons
of Adam, are ; and have equal Right unto Liberty, and all other outward
Comforts of Life. God hat the Earth [with all its Commodities] unto the Sons
of Adam, Pal 115.16. And hat made of One Blood, all Nations of Men, for to
dwell on all the face of the earth, and hat determined the Times before
appointed, and the bounds of their habitation: That they should seek the
Lord. Forasmuch then as we are the Offspring of GOD &c. Act 17.26, 27, 29.
Now although the Title given by the last ADAM, doth infinitely better Mens
Estates, respecting GOD and themselves; and grants them a most beneficial
and inviolable Lease under the Broad Seal of Heaven, who were before only
Tenants at Will: Yet through the Indulgence of GOD to our First Parents
after the Fall, the outward Estate of all and every of the children, remains
the same, as to one another. So that Originally, and Naturally, there is no
such thing as Slavery. Joseph was rightfully no more a Slave to his
Brethren, then they were to him: and they had no more Authority to Sell him,
than they had to Slay him. And if they had nothing to do to Sell him; the
Ishmaelites bargaining with them, and paying down Twenty pieces of Silver,
could not make a Title. Neither could Potiphar have any better Interest in
him than the Ishmaelites had, Gen. 37, 20, 27, 28. For he that shall in this
case plead Alteration of Property, seems to have forfeited a great part of
his own claim to Humanity. There is no proportion between Twenty Pieces of
Silver, and LIBERTY. The Commodity it self is the Claimer. If Arabian Gold
be imported in any quantities, most are afraid to meddle with it, though
they might have it a easy rates; lest if it should have been wrongfully
taken from the Owners, it should kindle a fire to the Consumption of their
whole estate. Tis pity there should be more Caution used in buying a Horse,
or a little lifeless dust; than there is in purchasing Men and Women: Whenas
they are the Offspring of GOD, and their Liberty is,

....Auro pretiosior Omni.

And seeing GOD hat said, He that stealeth a Man and Selleth him, or if he be
found in his hand, he shall surely be put to Death. Exod. 12.16. This Law
being of Everlasting Equity, wherein Man Stealing is ranked amongst the most
atrocious of Capital Crimes: What louder Cry can there be made of the
Celebrated Warning,


Caveat Emptor!

And all thing considered, it would conduce more to the Welfare of the
Province, to have White Servants for a Term of Years, than to have Slaves
for Life. Few can endure to hear of a Negro's being made free; and indeed
they can seldom use their freedom well; yet their continual aspiring after
their forbidden, renders them Unwilling Servants. And there is such a
disparity in their Conditions, Color & Hair, that they can never embody with
us, and grow up into orderly Families, to the Peopling of the Land: but
still remain in our Body Politic as a kind of extravasat Blood. As many
Negro men as there are among us, so many empty places there are in our Train
Bands, and the places taken up of Men that might make Husbands for our
Daughters. And the Sons and Daughters of New England would become more like
Jacob, and Rachel, if this Slavery were thrust quite out of doors. Moreover
it is too well known what Temptations Masters are under, to connive at the
Fornification of their Slaves; lest they should be obliged to find them
Wives, or pay their Fines. It seems to be practically pleaded that they
might be Lawless; tis thought much fo, that the Law should have
Satisfaction for their Thefts, and other Immoralities; by which means,
Holiness to the Lord, is more rarely engraven upon this sort of Servitude.
It is likewise most lamentable to thin, how in taking Negros out of Africa,
and selling of them here, That which GOD has joined together men to boldly
rend asunder; Men from their Country, Husbands from their Wives, Parents
from their Children. How horrible is the Uncleanness, Mortality, if not
Murder, that the Ships are guilty of that bring great Crouds of these
miserable Men, and Women. Methinks, when we are bemoaning the barbarous
Usage of our Friends and Kinsfolk in Africa: it might not be unseasonable to
enquire wheter we are not culpable in forcing the Africans to become Slaves
amongst our selves. And it may be a questions whether all the Benefit
received by Negro Slaves, will balance the Accompt of Cash laid out upon
them; and for the Redemption of our own enlstaved Friends out ofAfrica.
Besides all the Persons and Estates that have perished there.

Obj. 1 These Blackamores are of the Posterity of Cham, and therefore are
under the Curse of Slavery. Gen. 9.25, 26, 27.

Answ. Of all Offices, one would not begg this; viz. Uncall'd for, to be an
Executioner fo the Vindictive Wrath of God; the extent and duration of which
is to us uncertain. If this ever was a Commission; How do we know but that
it is long since out of date? Many have found it to their Cost, that a
Prophetical Denunciation of Judgement against a Person or People, would not
warrant them to inflict that evil. If it would, Hazael might justify himself
in all he did against his Master, and the Israelites, from 2 Kings 8.10, 12.

But it is possible that by cursory reading, this Text may have been
mistaken. For Canaan is the Person Cursed three times over, without the
mentioning of Cham. Good Expositors suppose the Curse entailed on him, and
that this Prophesie was accomplished in the Extirpation of the Canaanites,
and in the Servitude of the Gibeonites. Vide Pareum. Whereas the Balckmores
are not descended of Canaan, but of Cush. Psal. 68.31. Princes shall come
our to Egypt [Mizraim] Ethopia [Cush] shall soon stretch out her hands unto
God. Under which Names, all Aftrica may be comprehended; and the Promised
Conversion ought to be prayed for. Jer. 13,23. Can the Ethiopian change his
skin? This shows that Black Men are the Posterity of Cush: who time out of
mind have been distinguished by their Colour. And for want of the true, Ovid
assigns a fabulous cause of it.

Sanguine tum credunt in corpora cumma vacato Aethiopum populous nigrum
traxisse coleorm. Metomorph. lib.2.

Obj. 2. The Nigers are brought out of a pagan country, into places where the
Gospel is Preached.

Answ. Evil must not be done, that good may come of it. The extraordinary and
comprehensive Benefit accruing to the Church of God, and to Joseph
personally, did not rectify his brethrens Sale of him.

Obj. 3 The Africans have Wars with one another: our Ships bring lawful
Captives taken in those Wars.

Answ. For ought is known, their Wars are much such as were between Jacob's
Sons and their brother Joseph. If they be between Town and Town; Provincial,
or National: Every War is upon one side Unjust. As Unlawful War can't make
lawful Captives. And by Receiving, we are in danger to promote, and partake
in their Barbarous Cruelties. I am sure, if some Gentlemen should go down to
the Brewsters to take the Air and Fish: And a stronger party from Hull
should Surprise them, and Sell them for Slaves to a Ship outward bound: they
would think themselves unjustly dealt with; both by Sellers and Buyers. And
yet til to be feared, we have no other kind of Title to our Nigers.
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye
even so to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matt. 7.12.

Obj. 4 Abraham had servants bought with his Money, and born in his House.
Answ. Until the Circumstances of Abraham's purchase be recorded, no Argument
can be drawn from it. In the mean time, Charity obliges us to conclude, that
He knew it was lawful and good


It is Observable that the Israelites were strictly forbidden the buying, or
selling of one another for Slaves. Livit. 25.39, 46. Jer.34.8.....22. And
GOD gages His Blessing in lieu of any loss they might conceipt they suffered
thereby. Deut. 15.18. And since the partition Wall is broken down,
inordinate Self love should likewise be demolished. GOD expects that
Christians should be of a more Ingenuous and benign frame of spirit.

Christians should carry it to all the World, as the Israelites were to carry
it one towards another. And for men obstinately to persist in holding their
Neighbours and Brethren under the Rigor of perpetual Bondage, seems to be no
proper way of gaining Assurance that God has given them Spiritual Freedom.
Our Blessed Saviour has altered the Measures of the Ancient Love-Song, and
set it to a most Excellent New Tune, which all ought to be ambitious of
Learning. Matt.5, 43, 44. John 13,34. These Ethiopians, as black as they
are; seeing they are the Sons and Daughters of the First Adam, the Brethren
and Sister of the Last ADAM, and the Offspring of GOD; They ought to be
treated with Respect agreeable.

Servitus perfect voluntaria, inter Christianum & Christiainum, ex parte
servi patientis saepe est licita quia est necessaria; sed ex parte domini
agentis, & prcodurando & exercendo, vis potestesse licita; quia non convenit
regulae illi generali: Quecunque volueritis ut faciant vobis homines, ita &
vos facite eis. Matt. 7.12.

Perfecta servitus poenae, non potest jure locim havere, nisi ex delicto
gravi quod ultimum supplicum aliquo modo meretur; quia Libertas ex naturali
aestimatione proxime accedit ad vitam ipsam, & eidem a multis praeferri
solet.

Ames. Cas. Consc. Lib. 5
Cap. 23 Thes. 2, 3

BOSTON of the Massachusets
Printed by Bartholomew Green, and John Allen, June 24th, 1700.


 

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