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An Englishman's Travels in America His Observations of Life and Manners in the Free and Slave States   By:

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AN ENGLISHMAN'S TRAVELS IN AMERICA:

His Observations Of Life and Manners in the Free and Slave States.

1857

BY J. BENWELL.

PREFACE.

Personal narrative and adventure has, of late years, become so interesting a subject in the mind of the British public, that the author feels he is not called upon to apologize for the production of the following pages.

It was his almost unremitting practice, during the four years he resided on the North American continent, to keep a record of what he considered of interest around him; not with a view to publishing the matter thus collected, for this was far from his thoughts at the time, but through a long contracted habit of dotting down transpiring events, for the future amusement, combined, perhaps, with instruction, of himself and friends. It therefore became necessary, to fit it for publication, to collate the accumulated memoranda, and select such portions only as might be supposed to prove interesting to the general reader. In doing this he has been careful to preserve the phraseology as much as possible, with a view to give, as far as he could, something like a literal transcript of the sentiments that gave rise to the original minutes, and avoid undue addition or interpolation.

It was the wish and intention of the writer, before leaving England, to extend his travels by visiting some of the islands in the Caribbean Sea, a course which he regrets not having been able to follow, from unforeseen circumstances, which are partially related in the following pages. He laments this the more, as it would have added considerably to the interest of the work, and enabled him to enlarge upon that fertile subject, the relative position at the time of the negro race in those islands, and the demoralized condition of their fellow countrymen, under the iniquitous system of slavery, as authorized by statute law, in the southern states of America. As it was, he was enabled to travel through the most populous parts of the states of New York and Ohio, proceeding, viĆ¢ Cincinnati, to the Missouri country; after a brief stay at St. Louis, taking the direct southern route down the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, to New Orleans in Louisiana, passing Natchez on the way. The whole tour comprising upwards of three thousand miles.

From New Orleans he crossed an arm of the Gulf of Mexico to the Floridas, and after remaining in that territory for a considerable time, and taking part under a sense of duty in a campaign (more to scatter than annihilate), against the Seminole and Cherokee tribes of Indians, who, in conjunction with numberless fugitive slaves, from the districts a hundred miles round, were devastating the settlements, and indiscriminately butchering the inhabitants, he returned to Tallahassee, taking stage at that town to Macon in the state of Georgia, and from thence by the Greensborough Railway to Charleston in South Carolina, sailing after rather a prolonged stay, from that port to England.

Some of the incidents related in the following pages will be found to bear upon, and tend forcibly to corroborate, the miseries so patiently endured by the African race, in a vaunted land of freedom and enlightenment, whose inhabitants assert, with ridiculous tenacity, that their government and laws are based upon the principle, "That all men in the sight of God are equal," and the wrongs of whose victims have of late been so touchingly and truthfully illustrated by that eminent philanthropist, Mrs. Stowe, to the eternal shame of the upholders of the system, and the fearful incubus of guilt and culpability that will render for ever infamous, if the policy is persisted in, the nationality of America.

Well may the benevolent Doctor Percival in his day have said, when writing on the iniquitous system of slave holding and traffic, that "Life and liberty with the powers of enjoyment dependent on them are the common and inalienable gifts of bounteous heaven. To seize them by force is rapine; to exchange for them the wares of Manchester or Birminghan is improbity, for it is to barter without reciprocal gain, to give the stones of the brook for the gold of Ophir... Continue reading book >>




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