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Joseph Corry’s Conclusion

This is the conclusion of the 1807 book Observations Upon The Windward Coast Of Africa by Joseph Corry.

I have endeavoured in the foregoing pages, to introduce to my readers, the substance of my diary of observations upon the Windward Coast of Africa.

Originally I only intended them for my own private satisfaction, and that of my intimate friends; but on my arrival in England, I found that the commerce of Africa was then a particular subject in agitation, among a large portion of my fellow subjects, and the legislature of my country.

Under these circumstances, I conceived it my duty as a British commercial subject, and as a friend to humanity, to communicate my sentiments to the Right Honourable Lord Viscount Howick, then one of his Majesty’s principal secretaries of state; which I did in the subjoined letter. Upon further reflection, and by the express wish of respectable individuals, I have been induced to obtrude my narrative and sentiments upon the notice of the public. I have avoided as much as possible to magnify my personal adventures, and dangers, nor have I had recourse to the flowing periods of description, preferring a simple narrative of facts formed upon grounds of personal observation. From thence, if my endeavours tend to awaken a spirit of enterprise, to enlarge the trade of the united kingdom, and to increase the export of its manufactures, or lead to more intelligent interference in behalf of the enslaved African, my design will be accomplished.

To do justice to the natural history of Africa, and to introduce to the public its various sources of commerce, would require a union of political interests, and vigorous execution, which none but government can apply with full effect.

The principal outline which I have endeavoured to confine myself to, is a recital of such traits of the disposition and character of the natives, as seem requisite to be understood to form an accurate judgment of the present condition of Africa. The advantages that may possibly result not only from moral, but political considerations, in forming upon sure principles, agricultural and mercantile establishments, calculated to instruct and civilize the Negroes employed in the necessary avocations, will unfold the fertility of their soil which is now left to nature; and will also fulfil the expectations of a rational humanity, while it might rapidly expel slavery and the Slatee [a black African or mulatto slave trader] trade, to the establishment of civilization, and more natural commerce. I have also endeavoured to demonstrate the eligibility of the position of the river Sierra Leone, from whence a controlling and administrative authority might employ the resources of the Windward Coast from Cape Verde to Cape Palmas, at the same time submitting solely to the wisdom of government, the propriety of annexing Senegal to our possessions on the coast; which of course would tend to the total exclusion of France from this part of the world.

I have besides dwelt upon such positions, as appear to me best calculated to establish factories of trade and agricultural operation; and upon the nations whose barbarism must first be subdued, in order to influence other tribes, and to obtain a free intercourse with the interior, and have pointed out those chiefs whose dispositions and influence, would greatly co-operate to facilitate this beneficent undertaking.

The rivers I have dwelt upon, are surrounded with fertile lands and a numerous population, and may be navigated a considerable distance into the interior country; and by reducing all operations to one well adapted system, under the guidance of experience, moderation, and wisdom, I am firmly persuaded that success will be the result.

What I have said relative to the present state of the natives of Africa, may tend to demonstrate the nature of the opposition, which civilization has to guard against, and the barbarism it has to contend with. The condition of a free Negro in Africa is easy and contented, and the class of slaves attached to them, are satisfied with their fate. They only are to be lamented, who are procured from condemnation, either for real or imaginary crimes, or who are taken in war; and it is from this class that slaves are procured by other nations. It is a remarkable circumstance, that the major part of these unhappy creatures come from the interior, and that the maritime places which have had intercourse with Europeans, afford only a small number of slaves; and I am persuaded, abominable as the slave trade may be considered, and disgraceful as it is, that it has saved many human beings from a premature and barbarous death. I am also firmly of opinion, that it is only by a gradual abolition, and a rational system to civilize the inhabitants of Africa, that this detested traffic can be effectually abolished. A rational philosophy and humanity, should first have submitted to political necessity, and have commenced experiment upon practicable theories, while the sacred rights of property should have been regarded, and well considered.

This opinion may perhaps subject me to the animadversion of many worthy individuals; but I beg to assure them, that I am as zealous an abolitionist as any among my fellow subjects, although I widely differ from many of them, as to the means of effecting a measure, that embraces so large a portion of the human race; and I should contradict the conviction of my own mind, were I to utter any other opinion.

Rectitude of intention, a lively interest in the condition of the African, and a deep impression of the importance of this country to Great Britain, in a commercial point of view, have actuated me in obtruding myself upon the public; and before I take my leave, I earnestly entreat a deliberate investigation of the imperfect system of operation, I have recommended in the foregoing pages. If I have not been sufficiently perspicuous, I trust the shafts of criticism will be enfeebled by the consideration, that a commercial education and pursuit cannot claim a title to literary acquirements; but if in any instance I meet the judgment of a discerning public, and my suggestions excite more competent endeavours, I shall feel the highest pleasure, and satisfaction.

Into the hands of an enlightened legislature, and a beneficent public, I commit the Negro race; and may their endeavours be blest by Providence! may they tend to enlarge the circle of civilized and Christian society, and augment the commercial prosperity of the United Kingdom!

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