On the 2nd and 16th of October 1837 two sittings took place; at the latter of which a sub-committee, which had been appointed for the purpose, brought in a design for a seal. An African was seen, in chains, in a supplicating posture, kneeling with one knee upon the ground, and with both his hands lifted up to heaven, and round the seal was observed the following motto, as if he was uttering the words himself,—"Am I not a Man and a Brother?" The design having been approved of, a seal was ordered to be engraved from it. This seal, simple as the design was, was made to contribute largely towards turning the attention of our countrymen to the case of the injured Africans, and of procuring a warm interest in their favour.
The thumbs are put into this instrument through the two circular holes at the top of it. By turning a key, a bar rises up by means of a screw from C to D, and the pressure upon them becomes painful. By turning it further you may make the blood start from the ends of them. By taking the key away, as at E, you leave the tortured person in agony, without any means of extricating himself, or of being extricated by others. This screw, as I was then informed, was applied by way of punishment, in case of obstinacy in the slaves, or for any other reputed offence, at the discretion of the captain.
The dotted lines in the figure on the right hand of the screw represent it when shut, the black lines when open. It is opened, as at G H, by a screw below with a nob at the end of it. This instrument is known among surgeons, having been invented to assist them in wrenching open the mouth as in the case of a locked jaw; but it had got into use in this trade.
On asking the seller of the instruments on what occasion it was used there, he replied that the slaves were frequently so sulky as to shut their mouths against all sustenance, and this with a determination to die; and that it was necessary their mouths should be forced open to throw in nutriment, that they who had purchased them might incur no loss by their death.
A pair of the iron hand-cuffs with which the men-slaves are confined. The right-hand wrist of one, and the left of another, are almost brought into contact by these, and fastened together, by a little bolt with a small padlock at the end of it.
Slaves on a cotton plantation
But the war was not without its good results also. One of these, embodied later in the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, set free forever all the slaves in the Union; and another swept away for all time the evils of State rights, nullification, and secession. Webster's idea that the Union was supreme over the States had now become a fact which could never again be a subject of dispute. The Union was "one and inseparable."
A kafila (caravan) of slaves
A favorite trick of the slaver, fleeing from a man-of-war, was to throw over slaves a few at a time in the hope that the humanity of the pursuers would impel them to stop and rescue the struggling negroes, thus giving the slave-ship a better chance of escape. Sometimes these hapless blacks thus thrown out, as legend has it Siberian peasants sometimes throw out their children as ransom to pursuing wolves, were furnished with spars or barrels to keep them afloat until the pursuer should come up; and occasionally they were even set adrift by boat-loads. It was hard on the men of the navy to steel their hearts to the cries of these castaways as the ship sped by them; but if the great evil was to be broken up it could not be by rescuing here and there a slave, but by capturing and punishing the traders.