Original Document
Original Document
Anthony Benezet, Introduction, A Caution to Great Britain and Her Colonies: in a Short Representation of the Calamitous State of the Enslaved Negroes in the British Dominion, 1785

AT a time when the general rights and liberties of mankind, and the preservation of those valuable privileges transmitted to us from our ancestors, are become so much the subjects of universal consideration; can it be an inquiry indifferent to any, how many of those who distinguish themselves as the Advocates of Liberty, remain insensible and inattentive to the treatment of thousands and tens of thousands of our fellow men, who, from motives of avarice, and the inexorable decree of tyrant custom, are at this very time kept in the moil deplorable state of Slavery, in many parts of the British Dominions.
The intent of publishing the following sheets, is more fully to make known the aggravated iniquity attending the practice of the Slave-trade; whereby many thousands of our fellow- creatures, as free as ourselves by nature, and equally with us the subjects of Christ's redeeming Grace, are yearly brought into inextricable and barbarous bondage; and many, very many, to miserable and untimely ends.
The Truth of this lamentable Complaint is so obvious to persons of candour, under whose notice it hath fallen, that several have lately published their sentiments thereon, as a matter which calls for the most serious consideration of all who are concerned for the civil or religious welfare of their Country. How an evil of so deep a dye, hath so long, not only passed uninterrupted by those in Power, but hath even had their Countenance, is indeed surprising and charity would suppose, must in a great measure have arisen from this, that many persons in government, both of the Clergy and Laity, in whose power it hath been to put a Hop to the Trade, have been unacquainted with the corrupt motives which give life to it, and with the groans, the dying groans., which daily ascend to God, the common Father of mankind, from the broken hearts of those his deeply oppressed creatures : otherwise the powers of the earth would not, I think I may venture to say could not, have so long authorized a practice so inconsistent with every idea of liberty and justice, which, as the learned James Fojier fays, Bids that God, which is the God and Father of the Gentiles, unconverted to Christianity, most daring and bold defiance; and spurns at all the principles both of natural and revealed Religion.
Much might justly be said of the temporal evils which attend this practice, as it is definitive of the welfare of human society, and of the peace and prosperity of every country, in proportion at it prevails. It might be also shewn, that it destroys the bonds of natural affection and interest, whereby mankind in general are united; that it introduces idleness, discourages marriage, corrupts the youth, ruins and debauches morals, excites continual apprehensions of dangers, and frequent alarms,
to which the Whites are necessarily exposed from so great an increase of a People, that, by their Bondage and Oppressions, become natural enemies, yet, at the fame time, are filling the places and eating the bread of those who would be the Support and Security of the Country. But as these and many more reflections of the fame kind may occur to a considerate mind, I shall only endeavour to shew, from the nature of the Trade, the plenty which Guinea affords to its inhabitants, the barbarous Treatment of the Negroes, and the Observations made thereon by Authors of note,  that it is inconsistent with the plainest Precepts of the Gospel, the dictates of reason, and every common sentiment of humanity. …

Credit: Anthony Benezet, A Caution to Great Britain and Her Colonies: in a Short Representation of the Calamitous State of the Enslaved Negroes in the British Dominion. Philadelphia.  Printed: London, 1785.
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