On this day:
1807 – The U.S. Congress passes the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, disallowing the importation of new slaves into the country.
Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves
The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807 (2 Stat. 426, enacted March 2, 1807) is a United States federal law that stated that no new slaves were permitted to be imported into the United States. It took effect in 1808, the earliest date permitted by the United States Constitution.
This legislation was part of the general trend toward abolishing the international slave trade, which individual U.S. states had restricted during the American Revolution, and the national Congress first regulated against in the Slave Trade Act of 1794. The 1807 Act ended the legality of trade with the U.S. However, it was not always well enforced and slaves continued to be imported in limited numbers.
Slavery itself continued in the Southeastern United States until the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The domestic slave trade within the U.S. was unaffected by the 1807 law.
Article 1 Section 9 of the United States Constitution protected the slave trade for twenty years. Only starting January 1, 1808, could there be a federal law to entirely abolish the international slave trade, although individual states could and did ban it at any time.
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
In the 18th century, Great Britain had become the world’s largest slave trader. During the American Revolution (1775–1783) against Great Britain, all the states banned the international slave trade. This was done for a variety of economic, political, and moral reasons depending on the state. The trade was later reopened in South Carolina and Georgia.
On March 22, 1794, Congress passed the Slave Trade Act of 1794, which prohibited making, loading, outfitting, equipping, or dispatching of any ship to be used in the trade of slaves, essentially limiting the trade to foreign ships. On August 5, 1797, John Brown of Providence, Rhode Island, became the first American to be tried in federal court under the 1794 law. Brown was convicted and was forced to forfeit his ship Hope. On April 7, 1798, the fifth Congress passed an act that imposed a three hundred dollar per slave penalty on persons convicted of performing the illegal importation of slaves. It was an indication of the type of behavior and course of events soon to become commonplace in the Congress. In the Slave Trade Act of 1800, Congress outlawed U.S. citizens’ investment in the trade, and the employment of U.S. citizens on foreign vessels involved in the trade.
On December 2, 1806, in his annual message to Congress, widely reprinted in most newspapers, President Thomas Jefferson denounced the “violations of human rights” attending the international slave trade and called for its criminalization on the first day that was possible (January 1, 1808). He said:
I congratulate you, fellow-citizens, on the approach of the period at which you may interpose your authority constitutionally, to withdraw the citizens of the United States from all further participation in those violations of human rights which have been so long continued on the unoffending inhabitants of Africa, and which the morality, the reputation, and the best interests of our country, have long been eager to proscribe.
The House and Senate agreed on a bill, approved on March 2, 1807, called An Act to prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States, from and after the first day of January, in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eight. The bound measure also regulated the coastwise slave trade. President Thomas Jefferson signed the bill into law on March 2, 1807. Many in Congress believed the act would doom slavery in the South, but they were mistaken.
The 1807 Act was modified and supplemented by the fifteenth Congress. The importation of slaves into the United States was called “piracy” by an Act of Congress that punctuated the Era of Good Feelings in 1819. Any citizen of the United States found guilty of such “piracy” might be given the death penalty or arrested. The role of the Navy was expanded to include patrols off the coasts of Cuba and South America. The effective date of the Act, January 1, 1808, was celebrated by Peter Williams, Jr., in “An Oration on the Abolition of the Slave Trade”.
Carl C. Cutler’s classic book on American clipper ships records:
The act outlawing the slave trade in 1808 furnished another source of demand for fast vessels, and for another half century ships continued to be fitted out and financed in this trade by many a respectable citizen in the majority of American ports. Newspapers of the fifties contain occasional references to the number of ships sailing from the various cities in this traffic. One account stated that as late as 1859 there were seven slavers regularly fitted out in New York, and many more in all the larger ports.
1859 – The two-day Great Slave Auction, the largest such auction in United States history, begins.
The Great Slave Auction
The Great Slave Auction (also called The Weeping Time) in March 1859 is regarded as the largest sale of enslaved people before the American Civil War. To satisfy significant debts, absentee owner and Philadelphian Pierce Mease Butler, authorized the sale of approximately 436 men, women, children, and infants to be sold over the course of two days at the Ten Broeck Race Course, two miles outside of Savannah, Georgia.
Pierce M. Butler
The Butlers of South Carolina and Philadelphia were owners of slave plantations located on the Sea Islands of Georgia. The patriarch of the family, Major Pierce Butler, owned hundreds of slaves who labored over rice and cotton crops, thus amassing him the family’s wealth. Butler was one of the wealthiest and most powerful slave owners in the United States. Upon his death, his biggest dilemma was which heir to leave his wealth. Estranged from his son, Major Butler left his estate to his two grandsons, Pierce M. Butler and John A. Butler.
Pierce M. Butler was everything his grandfather detested in men. Pierce was devoid of business sense and degenerate in his personal habits. Butler frequently engaged in risky business speculations, which resulted in financial loss in the Crash of 1857, and his elaborate spending. However, it would be his incorrigible gambling that landed him in the most trouble. Butler had accrued a considerable amount of gambling debt over the years. To satisfy his financial obligations, the management of Butler’s estate was transferred to trustees. At first, the trustees sold Butler’s Philadelphia mansion for $30,000 as well as other properties; unfortunately, it was not enough to satisfy creditors. The only commodities of value that remained were the slaves he owned on his Georgia plantations.
Pierce Butler had the impending sale advertised in The Savannah Republican and The Savannah Daily Morning News by Joseph Bryan, a notorious slave dealer in Savannah. The advertisements ran daily, except on Sundays, up until the last day of the sale. It was advertised and announced from the beginning that there would be no division of families. On the first day, there were about 200 buyers present. Fierce rains kept many of the potential buyers away and the auction began two hours late.
The slaves were brought to Savannah by steamboat and by train and housed in the racecourses’ stables. They huddled together eating and sleeping on the floor. Beginning from February 26 through March 1, the slaves were inspected by prospective buyers. Anxious buyers from Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana descended upon Savannah in hopes of getting good deals. It was known that the Butler plantations had choice lots. The buyers poked, pinched, and fondled the slaves. They also opened their mouths inspecting their teeth. Slaves were also examined for “ruptures” or defects on their bodies that might affect their productivity.
Four hundred and thirty-six persons were advertised in the sale catalogue, but only four hundred and twenty-nine were sold. Those not sold were either ill or disabled. The majority of those sold were rice and cotton fieldworkers; others were skilled coopers, carpenters, shoemakers, blacksmiths, and cooks. The two-day sale netted $303,850. The highest bid for a family, a mother and her five grown children, was for $6,180. The highest price for an individual was $1,750 whereas the lowest price was $250
Mortimer Thomson, a popular journalist during the time who wrote under the pseudonym “Q. K. Philander Doesticks” memorialized the event. Initially, Thomson traveled to Savannah infiltrating the buyers by pretending to be interested in purchasing slaves. After the sale, he wrote a long and scathing article describing the auction in the New York Tribune titled, “What Became of the Slaves on a Georgia Plantation.”
Tom Pate, a Vicksburg trader, bought at the sale a man, his wife, and his two sisters with the guarantee that they were not to be separated in accordance with the terms of the auction. In disregarding the agreement, Pate sold one sister to a Pat Somers, a fellow trader, and the other sister to a private citizen in St. Louis. Somers finding out later of the sales agreement in Savannah about the families not being separated, returned the girl to Pate demanding his money refunded. An argument ensued resulting with Somers being shot and killed. Ten days following Somers death, his nephew killed Pate, and he himself was killed during the confrontation. The feud continued until every man bearing the name Pate was killed.
The only monument to this historic event is a steel marker a few miles outside of Savannah. The marker was erected by the city and the Georgia Historical Society in 2008.
Born on this day:
1545 – Thomas Bodley, English diplomat and scholar, founded the Bodleian Library (d. 1613)
Sir Thomas Bodley (2 March 1545 – 28 January 1613) was an English diplomat and scholar, founder of the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Thomas Bodley was born at Exeter in the second-to-last year of the reign of Henry VIII. His father, John Bodley, was a Protestant merchant who went to live abroad rather than stay in England under the Roman Catholic government of Mary. The family including Thomas’ younger brother Josias Bodley (and the ten-year-old Nicholas Hilliard, who had been attached to the household by his parents, friends of Bodley) sought refuge in the Duchy of Cleves, staying in the town of Wesel, then in the imperial free city of Frankfurt, before eventually settling in Geneva, home of Calvinism and a great centre of the Reformation. There, Thomas had the opportunity to study at John Calvin’s newly erected Academy. He attended lectures in Divinity given by Theodore Beza and Calvin himself and attended services led by John Knox. He learned Greek from Mattheus Beroaldus and Hebrew from Antoine Chevallier. The study of these languages remained enduring passions for Bodley throughout his life.
After Mary’s death in 1558 and the accession of Queen Elizabeth, the family returned to England, and Bodley entered Magdalen College, Oxford, to study under Lawrence Humphrey. In 1563 he took his B.A. degree, and was shortly thereafter, in 1564, admitted as a Fellow of Merton College. He began lecturing at Merton and in April 1565 was formally appointed as the college’s first Lecturer in Ancient Greek, a post that was subsequently made permanent. He served in many college offices: in 1569 he was elected as one of the University’s junior proctors and for some time after was deputy Public Orator. Leaving Oxford in 1576 with a license to study abroad and a grant from his college of £6. 13s. 4d., Bodley toured France, Italy, and the Holy Roman Empire, visiting scholars and adding French, Italian, and Spanish to his repertoire of languages.
It has been suggested that during his tour in Italy he was in initiated in Forlì in some form of Pythagorean initiation in a platonic academy.
On his return to England Bodley was appointed a gentleman-usher to Queen Elizabeth and in 1584 entered the House of Commons as one of the members for Portsmouth. In 1585 he was entrusted with a mission to form a league between Frederick II of Denmark and certain German princes to assist Henry of Navarre, the future Henry IV of France. He was next dispatched on a secret mission to France. In 1586 he was elected to represent St Germans in parliament, and in 1588 he was sent to the Hague as minister, a post which demanded great diplomatic skill, for it was in the Netherlands that the power of Spain had to be fought. The essential difficulties of his mission were complicated by the intrigues of the queen’s ministers at home, and Bodley repeatedly asked to be recalled. He was finally permitted to return to England in 1596, but finding his hoped-for preferment of becoming Secretary of State obstructed by the competing interests of Burghley and Essex, he retired from public life and returned to Oxford.
Bodley had married Ann Ball in 1587, a widow of considerable fortune and the daughter of a Mr Carew of Bristol, when he had had to resign his fellowship at Merton, but he still had many friends there and in the spring of 1598 the college gave a dinner in his honour. G. H. Martin speculates that the inspiration to restore the old Duke Humphrey’s library may have come from the renewal of Bodley’s contact with Henry Savile and other former colleagues at this dinner. Once his proposal was accepted, he devoted the rest of his life to the library project. He was knighted on 18 April 1604. He died in 1613 and was buried in the choir of Merton College chapel. His monument of black and white marble, complete with pillars representing books and allegories of learning, stands on the western wall of the north transept of the chapel.
The Bodleian Library
Bodley’s greatest achievement was the re-founding of the library at Oxford. In 1444, the existing university library was augmented by a gift of some 300 manuscripts from Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of Henry IV; this prompted the university to build a new library above the Divinity School which was at that time under construction. However, during the Reformation of the 1550s, the library had been stripped and abandoned, remaining virtually untouched until the return of Bodley in 1598. The library was later named the Bodleian Library in his honour. He determined, he said, “to take his farewell of state employments and to set up his staff at the library door in Oxford.” In 1598 his offer to restore the old library was accepted by the university. Bodley began his book collection effort in 1600, using the site of the former library above the Divinity School, which was in near ruin.
Although Bodley lived over 400 years ago, modern libraries benefit from some of his ideas and practices.
One important idea that Bodley implemented was the creation of a “Benefactors’ Book” in 1602, which was bound and put on display in the library in 1604. While he did have funding through the wealth of his wife, Ann Ball, and the inheritance he received from his father, Bodley still needed gifts from his affluent friends and colleagues to build his library collection. Although not a completely original idea (as encouragement in 1412 the university chaplain was ordered to say mass for benefactors), Bodley recognized that having the contributor’s name on permanent display was also inspiring. According to Louis B. Wright,
He had prepared a handsome Register of Donations, in vellum, in which the name of every benefactor should be written down in a large and fair hand so all might read. And he kept the Register prominently displayed so that no visitor to the library could escape seeing the generosity of Bodley’s friends. The plan, as it deserved, was a success, for its originator found that, ‘every man bethinks himself how by some good book or other he may be written in the scroll of the benefactors.'
For over four centuries, this innovative idea has continued to motivate friends of libraries everywhere.
Another significant event related to Bodley was the agreement between the Bodleian Library and the Stationer’s Company, in which “the Company agreed to send to the Library a copy of every book entered in their Register on condition that the books thus given might be borrowed if needed for reprinting, and that the books given to the Library by others might be examined, collated and copied by the Company.”
This was the beginning of legal deposit libraries, and today the Bodleian is one of six such libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In 2003, the Copyright Act of 1911 was expanded to include information on CD-ROM and websites. This regulation is in place to ensure the collection and preservation of all published materials as an accurate, up to date historical record.
Bodley wrote his autobiography up to the year 1609, which, with the first draft of the statutes drawn up for the library, and his letters to the librarian, Thomas James, was published by Thomas Hearne, under the title of Reliquiae Bodleianae, or Authentic Remains of Sir Thomas Bodley, (London, 1703, 8vo).
Thomas Bodley was married to Anne Ball, a wealthy widow, and he left no children.
1842 – Carl Jacobsen, Danish brewer, art collector, and philanthropist (d. 1914)
Carl Christian Hillman Jacobsen (2 March 1842 – 11 January 1914) was a Danish brewer, art collector and philanthropist, the son of J. C. Jacobsen, who founded the brewery Carlsberg and named it after him. His wife (see picture) Ottilia Marie Jacobsen, née Stegmann (3 October 1854 – 20 July 1903), whom he met during a business trip to Edinburgh in Scotland later marrying in Copenhagen on 24 September 1874), was almost as famous as himself within the contemporary arts community in Denmark. She was the daughter of the Danish grain merchant Conrad Stegmann and wife Louise Marie, née Brummer.
First Carl worked for his father but partly because of his conflicts between them, he founded his own brewery in 1882. It was first named Valby Brewery but upon his father’s approval changed its name to Ny Carlsberg (English: New Carlsberg], while his father’s enterprise at the same occasion changed its name to Gammel Carlsberg [English: Old Carlsberg]. At his father’s death, Carl Jacobsen did not at once obtain the leading post of the old brewery. Instead his father left it to the Carlsberg Foundation which he had founded in 1876, later the two Carlsbergs merged and from 1906 Carl was CEO of Carlsberg. As a “sole ruler” he carried on his father’s work.
Artistic interest and philanthropy
Carl Jacobsen did not share his father’s political commitment, though like him he was an eager cultural enthusiast known for his interest in Greek and classical art and his engagement led to the founding of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in 1897, an art museum mainly based upon his Antique collections still regarded as one of the most important Danish art museums.
Carl Jacobsens interest in the arts is also demonstrated by his brewery. He employed the leading Danish architects of the time, mainly Vilhelm Dahlerup, and the buildings were designed with great care to detail as seen in the Winding Chimney.
Often taking part in discussions of architecture of Copenhagen, he paid for the restoration of several churches and public buildings and was also behind the 1913 sculpture of The Little Mermaid.
Though often preoccupied with his cultural interests, Carl was a shrewd and visionary businessman and initiated the transition of Carlsberg from a local Copenhagen brewery to the multinational conglomerate that it is today.
by Lauren Young: The Animal Soldiers of World War I
A diverse array of creatures provided comfort and combat.