The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relations to Slavery

By Don E. Fehrenbacher; Ward M. McAfee | Go to book overview

6
THE AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE,
1842 TO 1862

THE MAN RESPONSIBLE for implementing Article VIII of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty was Tyler's secretary of the navy, Abel P. Upshur, a social conservative and proslavery radical of the Calhoun stamp who would soon replace Webster in the State Department. Like the president, Upshur at this time had his eyes fixed on Texas. There is no evidence of his giving anything beyond perfunctory attention to the problem of the slave trade. Only after months of delay did he appoint Matthew C. Perry to command the African squadron, and it was August of 1843 when Perry arrived off Cape Mesurado, where he had cruised with the Shark twentytwo years earlier. 1

Upshur's instructions made it plain that the squadron's primary assignment was the protection of American commerce. “It is to be borne in mind, ” he wrote, “that while the U[nited] States sincerely desire the suppression of the Slave Trade, and design to exert their power, in good faith, for the accomplishment of that object, they do not regard the success of their efforts as their paramount interest nor as their paramount duty. They are not prepared to sacrifice to it any of their rights as an independent Nation, nor will the object in view justify the exposure of their own people to injurious and vexatious interruptions in the prosecution of their lawful pursuits. Great caution is to be observed, upon this point.” 2

Instead of the fifteen vessels, principally small schooners, recommended in the Paine-Bell report, Upshur put together an African squadron consisting of one frigate, two sloops-of-war, and one brigantine, only the last of which measured less than 500 tons. The squadron mounted a total

-173-

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The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relations to Slavery
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • The Slaveholding Republic 1
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • 2 - Slavery and the Founding of the Republic 15
  • 3 - Slavery in the National Capital 49
  • 4 - Slavery in American Foreign Relations 89
  • 5 - The African Slave Trade, 1789 to 1842 135
  • 6 - The African Slave Trade, 1842 to 1862 173
  • 7 - The Fugitive Slave Problem to 1850 205
  • 8 - The Fugitive Slave Problem, 1850 to 1864 231
  • 9 - Slavery in the Federal Territories 253
  • 10 - The Republican Revolution 295
  • 11 - Conclusion 339
  • Notes 345
  • Index 453
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