Home: Documents: Diaries: Mission To America: 63-72
63 CLARKSON'S MISSION TO AMERICA 1791-1792
The extent of a Town Lot is 40 by 80 feet; many of the women and children can spin, but have no wheels; the implements of husbandry are upon an average, more than half worn out - The barrels allowed to each family are intended for holding their pots, kettles &c to keep them from being thrown about the ship-
With respect to the property which any of these people may leave behind, I am sure it will not answer to appoint an Agent to dispose of it, except in some few instances, this I shall keep an eye to-
I hope likewise the Lapwing will be upon the
Coast by the time we arrive, She will be of the greatest use to us- Some seeds
of esculent vegetables adapted to the climate would be acceptable, I know that
the people would be happy to purchase them-A few lines, hooks, &c would
be serviceable, and if we could have a good, I should not fear sup plying the
whole with fish, in case of need - Wine will be necessary for the sick - you
will pardon my being 50 minute, but it satisfies my mind though I am in hopes
we shall arrange. Matters so as to claim the bounty - All the pregnant women
and those who may be a little indisposed will go in the vessel with Mr. Taylor
I must now conclude promising that you shall hear from me by the earliest opportunity after my arrival in Halifax which I have reason to expect will be in the course of a very few days, I shall then be able to speak with greater certainty when I have had another conversation with the governor, but he is a very unsteady man, and although he told me that 1200 tons of shipping would be ready by December, yet he may be led away by the opinion of others, and now say he can not procure half that quantity-
I remain dear Sir, with respectful compliments to all my friends,
Your most obliged & obedient Servant
November 7th - The weather being pleasant and the wind in favor we proceeded on our voyage and at 3 in the afternoon passed between Sambro Light House and the Main - At 5 ran along side the wharf and could not help smiling at the number of people collected together see our Black recruits land: soon after we had been at home we visited by Mr. Hartshorne Mr. Hartshorne and several of the Free Blacks who came to congratulate me upon my arrival-
November 8th - Waited upon the Governor, who declared in presence of Major Skinner and Mr. Hartshorne, that from what he c learn the whole of my conduct had been candid, fair and irreproachable upon reading the advertisement of October 29th he so much approve it, that he desired Major Skinner to get it inserted in the Newspapers signed with his (the governor's name) and said he could now begin to' up the shipping The Major made an objection to people of every description leaving this Province on a supposition that Government did not mean to take away such as were men of decent property, to which the Cove replied, as the property was their own, they had a right to dispose of any way they thought proper-
November 9th - Mr. Winlock
Master of the assurance, was day interred with Military and Masonic honors;
the procession was grand beautiful & solemn, and well calculated to strike
a reverential awe due the mournful occasion on the minds of every spectator.
He was formerly a shipmate of mine on board the Proserpine in the West Indies-Called
upon the Admiral Capt. Tripp
of the Navy, and the Governor, the
I informed me that Mr. Dundas had desired him to give me the choice any
65 CLARKSON'S MISSION TO AMERICA 1791-1792
November 10th Had a conversation with the Governor, and suggested he propriety of every person being examined by a Medical man, previous to their ernbarkation, to prevent a contagious disorder on board the fleet; he accordingly appointed Mr. Burn for the Shelburne district. I particularly charged Major Skinner to pay every attention on this head- Mr. Hartshorne and myself also enforced the necessity of a person being appointed at Halifax to purchase the provisions & necessary things for the voyage,and to superintend the general equipment of the Fleet-as an agent on part of government. The governor coinciding with us, we proposed Mr. Wallace, one of the Members of the Province and a merchant at this he approved & appointed him accordingly
Mr. Hartshorne dined with me today. An advertisement appeared in the Papers today signed Philanthropos : reprobating the proposals of they to the Free Blacks which he described as wanting in clearness & ~On & too vague & indefinite to form the basis of a Colonial Establishment It also represents the climate of Africa in the most frightful colors & fortells that the whole will fall victims to the mistaken principles of commerce As I have upon every occasion been candid & honest in my explanation of the Company's proposals, I thought it most prudent to be silent & leave Philanthropos to write again if he pleased.
Nov. 11th - Paid morning visit to the Bishop, Rector,81 Messrs Townsend and Dight, the Attorney General, Captain Rogers &C Had a long conversation with the Bishop relative to my business. He expressed rise that the first offer of government to the Free Blacks had not de public & said from everything he could learn I had fully stated upon every occasion-Dined with Mr. Townsend the conversation turned on the Slave Trade, every one appeared to reprobate it. The Bishop whole company were much surprised and affected at the cruelties mentioned to have been practiced: they all seemd strangers to the miseries these unhappy men continually experience.
November 12th - Waited upon the governor in company with Skinner, Messrs. Hartshorne, Wallace & Clark-I told the Governor I understood he had given an order to Major Skinner on his return to e to shut the door against any further applications for conveyance Leone, upon the idea that the people were infatuated with the of a change of situation, which he thought would be the means of many of them to their graves-I requested to give him my opinion business (which I had never done either in public or private to any Black man in the Province) which was that everyone that made up his mind to go to Sierra Leone would in the end be more happy than if he remained in the Province and thinking as I did, it appeared unfair, as well Diametrically opposite to the wishes of Government to prevent any one Choosing for himself-The Governor replied that I might think so,
As two vessels will sail tomorrow morning I cannot help informing you of my safe return to Halifax. I still have it not in my power to acquaint you for a certainty when we shall sail or the number that will actually go with us-Those who have already given in their names at Shelburne amount to 156 families, containing 540 Souls, and at Halifax 250 men women & children-Upon my arrival at this place from Shelburne the Governor advertised for shipping -I shall enclose you a paper containing the advertisement, you will see by that, that the people of this country are doing all that they can to prevent the Blacks from going; they may write but I shall not get into any dispute in attempting to answer them.
If the advertisement in the paper should not have the effect the writer of it wishes (for you must know the White people are reading it to the Blacks in every part of the town) I expect, and if I dare speak to a certainty, I should say that I shall have 800 people ready to sail, properly arranged by the 20th of December, and from the accounts received from Annapolis 30 families are now ready to embark & are only waiting for Peters & those from New Brunswick to join them I have written to Peters desiring him not to fail being at Halifax by the second week in December.
67 CLARKSON'S MISSION TO AMERICA 1791-1792
I am too busy to add more by this vessel and am induced to conclude because I know I shall have an opportunity of writing to you in the course of ten days but I must beg you to take such steps for our protection, when we arrive, as will not fail to answer-
Believe me with respect to my own person that is quite out of the question, but how miserable I shall be during the remainder of my life, if these people should be driven away or molested by the Natives or should we experience an uncommon mortality from any delay-I do not feel in the least alarmed for what may happen on the voyage, because I am sure that every attention will be paid to the preservation of their health-
A thousand people to conduct across
the Atlantic, with everything to arrange in consequence is an arduous task &
will occasion me many anxious moments, but I am determined to persevere &
endeavor to surmount every difficulty that may occur.
PS. Since writing the above I have seen, the proposals of the Merchants for carrying the Blacks to Sierra Leone, they appear to be abominably high; I cannot enter into particulars. I have told the gentlemen employed on the part of Government that I am determined to see justice done on both sides, to the best of my abilities, that I wish the merchants to have a fair profit, but at the same time I should be sorry if Government was imposed upon-
I shall by the next vessel send
you a duplicate of my letter from Shelburne, as the Newspaper is just come out,
I cannot help sending it to you, as there is another paragraph respecting our
68 CLARKSON'S MISSION TO AMERICA 1791-1792
Free Blacks as were inclined to leave this Country and become Settlers at Sierra Leone, they were in general found to vary from each other in very essential points, and in such a manner as might readily admit of an evasive construction, for in stance, some were characterized as sober & industrious others honest & sober, and one or more described as industrious only-
Mr. Clarkson would be glad to be informed whether
he is to consider these as men of unexceptionable characters, or whether you
had any particular reason for withholding (or could not with justice give them)
the general one of honesty sobriety & industry
Dined with Mr. Hartshorne, on my return home found a letter from a Black man desiring me to ordain him as a Preacher to a particular Sect.
November 15th - The whole of this morning conversing with several Black people-was much pleased and astonished at the conversation of many of them-Walking in one of the streets I observed an Indian Canoe, which had been conveyed thither from the water; it was between 18 & 20 feet in length and measured two feet 8 inches across in the broadest part, it was constructed in the following manner. Three slender pieces of wood are laid parallel and close to each other, and fastened firmly at each extremity and again by five cross pieces of wood at equal distances but of unequal lengths; two of them are separated in such a manner as to form an elliptical curve, which serves for the outer edge or gunwale, while by the same means, the third piece naturally falls into the same curve but in a contrary or vertical direction & forms the keel or lower part of the boat from the gunwale across the keel are bent Several thin laths two inches broad leaving a space between each of nearly the same breadth, over these externally the same kind of laths, but in a horizontal direction are fixed close to each other the whole length of the boat, and lastly over all is an extensive covering of birch tree bark, the seams of which are well I closed with a glutinous substance that effectually excludes all water from penetrating through into the boat-It appears to be built entirely without iron-work in lieu of which twisted sinews of such animals as they kill serve to keep each part tight & firm together, nor are there any seats, so that whoever is carried in boats of this construction, must necessarily sit or lie at the bottom-Canoes of this kind are so light that any man might with great ease carry one upon his shoulder almost any distance.
The Company which came in this boat consisted of three women, a boy about 15 years old, and an infant at the breast as I saw them in the street I desired them to follow me home.
women were somewhat low in stature and all of them had a yellowish or copper
coloured complexion with long straight black hair- Their dress consisted of
a flowered woollen jacket reaching to the waist and a coarse blue short petticoat,
a cap mad L made I of cloth angular to the upper and back part of the head,
and ornamented with small white beads
What little these Indians understood
of the English language was spoken with a very drawling accent, they appeared
well acquainted with the value of each article they had brought (viz Cranberries
& wild fowl singly, but when they had sold several at the price they required
they were entirely at a loss in what manner to calculate the amount or sum total-
In this respect, therefore, they were wholly at the mercy of the White who might
readily have cheated them with impunity and without fear detection, seeing that
these poor Indians implicitly relied on their honesty I am afraid there are
many in this Province who take every advantage them.
I offered these Indians each a glass of spirits which I imagined they were fond of, but they rejected it with marks of abhorrence, giving n to understand that they could eat bread or biscuit. I presented the: with some of the latter, which they accepted with visible pleasure.
I understood they had left their Wagwams this morning and intended returning immediately. Their residence therefore could not be a great distance from Halifax. After buying of them their Ducks, &C &c. Dined at Mr. Stanser's and spent the evening there-the subject of my Embassy-the topic of conversation-Found the company ignorant as to the situation of the poor Blacks and rejoiced that it was in my power to refute their arguments.
November 16th Waited upon the Admiral & paid him the compliment of asking his permission to hoist my pendant with which readily complied-Called upon Mr. Wallace, the Agent appointed by ~ Government for forwarding the embarkation. Went with him on boa several vessels to fix upon those which I thought would answer my purpose~ Came to a resolution not to accept one double decked vessel unless she had five feet clear from deck to deck. Visited several single decked vessels gave my approbation to their being engagd-Messrs. Hartshorne, Mil & Wickham dined with me today. A woman (Rose Murray) called up me to request she might take her daughter with her to Sierra Leone; a understood the girl had been unsteady for some time past, I would not give her an answer but left it to her future conduct to guide me in my determination.
November 17th - This day being appointed to take down the name of those who wished to go with me, the room was full by nine in t morning-Several gentlemen called upon me & stayed with me till business was finished. Many of the Free Blacks were very particular their enquiries about Sierra Leone, and the promises made to them; they wished to know if they should be prevented performing their worship board a ship, as they said they knew that Captains and sailors were not
very religious, and made many other suitable observations, relative to their future prospects, all of which were gratifying to me, and I took the opportunity of reasoning with them on the change they were about to make, and to point out many difficulties likely to arise in the formation of a colony, which I had no doubt would be met by them in a way consistent with their I professions and that I should have little trouble in managing a set of men so virtuously inclined.
After writing to the Masters
of some, listening to the complaints of others, and endeavoring to satisfy the
whole, I felt myself quite stupid & took a walk for an hour before dinner-Mr.
Taylor & myself dined at home, several people called after dinner-Mr. Wallace
brought me a letter from Mr. Clark informing me that one hundred people had
sailed from Annapolis, and that seventy more would soon follow-Sent off an express
immediately to Annapolis to hurry the whole-Conversed a long time on the exhorbitant
charges of the merchants & particularly reprobated the account he shewed
me of the charge of the sloop, which had sailed from Annapolis with one hundred
people on board, viz £100 for one hundred persons of every description
and mentioned a merchant in this place who had offered to convey from the same
place from two to three hundred for the same money, but as I found there would
not be vessels in the harbour sufficient to convey the whole, and as the contract
must be closed with the Merchants, I thought it most prudent as I could not
help myself to say nothing further on the extravagant terms, but insisted that
each ship with two decks should cut Scuttles in their sides to admit of free
circulation of air if upon examining them I should think it advisable.
November 18th - Several people
called upon me this morning amongst whom some of the Free Blacks, whom I had
promised to convey Shelburne as they had business to do there, and as Mr. Wickham
was appointed to go to that place to see the whole property embarked, and to
- them to Halifax. The greatest part of this day was taken up in
instructions for him, and giving him such hints for his guidance, as would
in all probability frustrate the attemps [attempts] of those who might wish
to put a to put a stop to some of the people embarking. After furnishing a list
of all the people who gave their names to me at Shelburne attaching to each
name the particular circumstances relating to that family, I drew up hastily
the following instructions.
It will save you a great deal of trouble if you will tell David George who is one of the Black men, that there will be a sufficient quantity of shipping ready for all those whose names were given in to me, and of which you have a copy & that the names of others who are desirous of going will be taken down & sent to the Governor that he may transmit them to England if there should not be vessels to take them at this time.
You must be very cautious in receiving them
on board, and not suffer one to enter the vessel unless you are convinced
If you can make your observations as to the
abilities of such as may accompany you, I shall feel myself much obliged to
you, as it will save me a great deal of trouble in arranging them on board the
different ships-I have not time to look over my papers to find out the characters
of those whose names are on the other side of the paper, therefore if you will
tell every one who may accompany you that if I should find that their characters
do not answer to the description given in to me neither Mr. Hartshorne or myself
will give them Certificates to receive lands on their arrival at Sierra Leone
and it will entirely depend upon their behavior on board the vessels in their
passage whether they receive any or not.
It is probable that many may
be detained for debts I think it would be proper the moment you arrive at Shelburne
to publish the names of such as will go to Sierra Leone and after eight days
I understand it is the law of the Province that no person can detain a man if
he should give him ever so much.
If any are detained in consequence of debt you will do me the greatest favour in making yourself acquainted with the sum against each individual and the circumstances relating thereto.
I think you should object to
take any people of the following description-Those that are lame and cannot
work for their living as they will certainly starve in an unsettled Country;
elderly single women, and in short anyone who cannot maintain him or herself,
unless the lame man or woman &c. has a father, brother, sister or some relation
&c to take care of them. This I call common justice.
I think a dog should be allowed if they ask it, to every six families, probably there may not be applications to that amount-I have promised the following people that they shall carry their dogs: viz-David George, Stephen Trickley, a dog and a puppy, John Thomas & Henry-(whose other name I cannot make out) pigs ought not to be suffered to come into the ship-Fowls may be allowed but no tables or chairs.
If any of the people should have their children bound