Sunday, 23 December 2012

Thomas P. Cope

I've been dipping into the diary of Thomas P. Cope, a Quaker merchant from Philadelphia in the first half of the 19th Century. His observations are fascinating and like many letters of the time, can be beautifully poetic. He speaks a lot of his business, the weather, his ailments but also of contemporary events. This evening I read this entry from September 22nd, 1800 and although I'm unlikely to write a song out of it, I felt the need to share it.
"A conspiracy of the negroes has been detected at Richmond. Several of the unhappy wretches have been executed & others are expected to suffer the same fate. So long as seven thousand fellow beings are held in chains in these United States, their cruel & hardened oppressors may look for plots, conspiracies & insurrections. Nature revolts at the idea of bondage in any shape, but when that bondage is attended with other circumstances of barbarity such as tearing a fond husband from the arms of an affectionate wife & forcing the smiling babe from the breast of a tender hearted mother, of severing whole families & cutting asunder all the dearest ties of humanity, of dragging those innocent & hapless victims into a far and distant country, never, never to return, but to endure every species of heart rending torture under the galling yoke of a never ending slavery, except by the welcome interposition of death; surely those forgers of fetters, these tyrants of their species, are not to expect from men, formed, like themselves, for the sweet enjoyments of liberty, a tame and unresisting submission to all their deeds of merciless injustice. I would not be a dealer in flesh for all the riches of Indastan; nor a master of slaves for the fairest portion of my country. When I contemplate the nature of man, his restless spirit & daring efforts to regain that state of freedom of which he is wantonly deprived by his fellow man, I think I can see, in the sullen temper & discontented acts of the negroes in the southern states, a gathering storm, which may one day burst forth & overwhelm the oppressor & the oppressed in one general indistinguishable ruin."


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  2. What a great thought at that age and such a businessmen. Really brilliant.