Williamsburg June 29th. 1795.


It is some weeks time since I had the pleasure of
recieving your last favor accompanying Answers to the
remaining Queries, which I took the Liberty of transmitting
you. Being at that time very much engaged, & obliged to
leave home for several weeks, I deferred answering your
Letter till my return; and since that period I have been
too much indisposed to write. -- Permit me now, Sir,
to render you my best acknowledgments, not only
for the great trouble you have taken, and the obliging
readiness you have manifested to comply with my
request, but for the very full & satisfactory manner
in which you have communicated the result of your
researches. -- Happy has it been for your Country, that
the progress of Slavery, from a combination of natural
Causes with political Considerations, and even human
weakness & prejudice, has been so inconsiderable
therein, as to render the extirpation of it neither difficult,
nor dangerous. With us, on the contrary, climate, a
baneful policy, and a different operation of the same
prejudice, which prevented it's growth in the Massachusetts,
have combined to cherish an evil, which is now so thoroughly
incorporated in our Constitution, as to render ineffectual,
I fear, every attempt to eradicate it, and to make it doubtful
whether even palliatives may not operate to encrease
our distemper. From your researches it appears that

the greatest proportion of Slaves to free Whites in Massachusetts
was as one to 40. -- Whereas in Virginia, it appears by the late
Census of the United States, there are 305943. blacks, including
12866. free blacks, and 442.117 Whites -- which is nearly
as two to three. -- But this is not all. If the State of Virginia
be divided into four Districts -- the first, comprehending all
the Counties from the Ocean to the falls of the rivers, and some
few of the adjacent Counties, will be found to contain
196542 Slaves, & 198371. free persons, including a proportion
of the 12866. free blacks, probably not less than 8000; so that
in a tract of Country, comprehending more than one half the
population of Virginia, there are more blacks -- and even
more Slaves, than free white persons. -- In the second Class,
extending to the blue ridge of mountains, and including the Counties
of Frederick & Berkeley; beyond it, there are 82,286. Slaves,
and 136251. free persons; which is more than nearly two to three.
In the third District, extending to the Allegany Mountains,
there are 11218. Slaves, & 76281. free persons, nearly
as one to seven only. -- In the fourth District, reaching from
the eastern side of the Alleganey to the Kentucky Line
there are only 2381. Slaves, & 41318. free persons, nearly
as one to twenty, only. From this view of the subject, it will
appear that the most populous & cultivated parts of Virga
would not only bear an infinite disproportion in the --
diminution of property, by a general emancipation, but
that the dangers & inconveniences of any experiment to
release the blacks from a state of Bondage must fall exclusively, almost, upon these parts of the state.
The calamities, which have lately spread like a
Contagion through the west India Islands, afford
a solemn warning to us of the dangerous predicament
in which we stand, whether we persist in the
now, perhaps, unavoidable course entailed upon
us by our Ancestors, or, copying after the liberal
sentiments of the national convention of France,
endeavour to do justice to the rights of human
nature, and to banish deep rooted, nay, almost
innate, prejudices. -- The latter is a task, perhaps
beyond the power of human nature to accomplish:
If in Massachusetts, where the numbers are compa=
=ratively very small, this prejudice be discernable,
how much stronger may it be imagined in this
Country, where every white man felt himself born
to tyrannise, where the blacks were regarded as
of no more importance than the brute Cattle, where
the laws rendered even venial offences, criminal
in them; where every species of degradation towards
them was exercised on all occasions; and where
even their lives were exposed to the ferocity of their
masters: for it is only within these few years, that that an Act passed above a Century* ago, [Note in left margin: *anno 1669.] exempting the
masters of Slaves, or others punishing a Slave by order
of their masters, from any penalty or prosecution
in consequence of any slave dying in consequence
of excessive chastisement; for which this reason was
assigned by the Legislators of those days. "Since it
"can not be presumed that prepensive malice which
"alone makes murder Felony, should induce any
"man to destroy his own Estate." -- This abominable
law continued to stain our Code, & to corrupt the morals
of the people of Virginia until the year 1788. -- In that
year, I for the first time since my acquaintance with
Courts, saw a white man tried, & convicted for the murder
of a Slave by excessive whipping, & he was hanged
accordingly. -- Unfortunately, in the new Edition of our
laws, the legislature thought it sufficient to expunge
the former Act, without inserting the latter. I fear it
may have an ill consequence; for there is nothing
like holding up a warning in view of bad men.

Whatever disposition the first settlers in Virginia, or their
immediate Descendants might have had to encourage
Slavery, the present generation are, I am persuaded,
more liberal; and a large majority of Slaveholders among
us would chearfully concur in any feasible plan for
the Abolition of it. The Objections to the measure are
drawn from the deep-rooted prejudices in the minds of the
Whites agt the blacks. -- the general Opinion of their mental

inferiority, and an aversion to their corporeal distinctions from us,
both which considerations militate against a general --
incorporation of them with us. The danger of granting them
a practical admission to the rights of Citizens. -- The possibility of
their becoming idle, dissipated, & finally a numerous Banditti,
instead of turning their attention to industry and labour. The
Injury to Agriculture in a large part of the State, where they
are almost the only labourers, should they withdraw themselves
from the culture of the Earth: and The impracticability, and
perhaps, the dangerous policy of an attempt to colonize
them, within the limits of the United States -- or elsewhere.
Mr. Jefferson seems to hint at this expedient.-- but surely he
could not have weighed the difficulties and expence of an
attempt to colonize 300,000, persons. If the Attempt were
made within the United States, it would probably include a
provision for the Slaves in the other States, amounting in the
whole to 800,000. Could the funds of the United States support
such a Colony? If an army of three, or four thousand men,
in the western Country is supported at such expence, as that
a Bushel of Corn has sometimes cost ten Dollars before it reached
the Camp, what would be the expence of colonizing such an
host? If even 20,000. Colonists were yearly sent out, how
enormous would be the expence, & how great the undertaking.
yet with 20,000. colonists only sent out, yearly, the numbers of those
which remain would continually encrease, if the same
Causes which have hitherto contributed to their multiplication
should be continued. Besides, what hardships, what destruction,
would not the wretched Colonists be exposed to? If humanity plead for their Emancipation, it pleads more strongly against
Colonization: for having stated the impracticability of it
within the United States, I pass over the Scheme of sending
them back to their native Country, to effectuate
which without the most cruel Oppression would require the
utmost exertion of all the maritime powers in Europe, united
with those of America, and a territory of ten times the extent
that all the powers.of Europe possess in Africa. -- One of three
Courses then must inevitably be pursued. -- either to incorporate
them with us
; to grant them freedom, without any participation
of civil rights
; or to retain them in Slavery. -- If it be true
that either Nature or long habit have depraved their faculties,
so as to render them in their present state an inferior order of
beings, may not an Attempt to elevate them, depress those
who mingle & incorporate with them? -- May not such an Attempt
be frustrated by prejudices too deeply rooted to be eradicated?
The numbers being so nearly equal in Virginia, may not such
prejudices generate a civil war, & end in the extermination
of one party or the other, especially as nature herself has
fixed the Characters by which those parties would be dis=
criminated, so long as either existed. -- To the second measure
it is objected, that by granting freedom only, without civil rights,
you will stimulate them to procure by force what you have
refused to grant them, which must lay the foundation of all
the Evils to be apprehended from a full incorporation of them
amongst us. -- And to both measures it is further objected,
that Agriculture will languish as soon as they who are now
compelled to till the ground are left at liberty to work or be idle
as most agreeable to them: That experience among us has shewn that emancipated blacks rarely are industrious. -- That if so great
a proportion of the Inhabitants of the Country should become
idle, they will soon owe their subsistence to plunder alone.
That those who wish for their Emancipation, equally wish for their
total removal from the limits of the State; that having been
long accustomed to strict restraint, in small bodies, they
will not easily be restrained by general laws, which they
have never been in the habit of regarding as having any relation
to them. Those who argue thus contend, that their present
Condition (the rigors of Slavery having been much softened
among us within these few years) is infinitely preferable
to that degraded freedom they would enjoy, if emancipated.
They insist that they are better cloathed, lodged, & fed, than if
it depended upon themselves to provide their own food
raiment & houses: that the restraint upon them prevents
their falling into vicious habits, which emancipated blacks
appear too prone to contract. It may be observed indeed,
that although the number of Slaves is to the free blacks
as 24. to 1. yet, there are many more of the latter brought
to Answer for their crimes in courts of Judicature, than of the
former. -- One reason for this undoubtedly is, that Slaves are
punished by their masters for petty Larcenies, for which a
free man can only be punished by due Course of Law. But
even of capital crimes, more are committed by free blacks,
than by Slaves. And if I may judge by my own Experience
in Courts which I have attended, the proportion of free black
criminals, to whites, is nearly as one to three , though
the proportion of free blacks to whites, is not more than one for
thirty six. It is however but just to observe, that I do not recollect more than one instance of murder committed by a free black,
and in that Instance he was an accomplice with a White Man
Who was the principal in the Murder. Among Slaves, Murder
is not very uncommon; and not unfrequently their victims have been
their Overseers -- & sometimes, though very rarely their own Masters
or Mistresses, by means of poison; in most of these Cases the most
humane persons have been the sufferers: they occur, however,
so very seldom, that I am inclined to believe as many Cases
happen in England of Masters or Mistresses murdered by their
Servants as in Virginia.

I have taken the liberty of troubling you with these remarks,
wishing, if your Leisure will permit, to Learn your Sentiments
on a subject of such importance to humanity, which is
unhappily, involved in a labyrinth of political Difficulties.
I feel myself some-times prompted to exclaim, Fiat justitia
ruat Coelum! but the Scene, now passing in the West Indies
prompts me to suspend my Opinion, & to doubt whether it will
not be wiser to set about amending the Condition of the Slave,
than to attempt to make him a miserable free man. Your
communications on this subject, whenever your leisure will
permit, without interrupting your other pursuits will
be most gratefully recieved.

I have endeavoured to procure for you a Copy of Stith's
History of Virginia, but without that degree of success which
I wish, having only been able to get one which is mutilated
of the preface, and in several leaves of the beginning of the
work. I never saw but two complete Copies of it. One now
in my possession I borrowed of an old neighbour, who refused

to sell it to me. -- The other was in possession of his Mr. Stith's Daughter,
a woman turned of fifty, who resides in this Town: she would
not part with it. -- From her I was informed "that her Father
"died in the year 1755. She was then thirteen years old: she
"recollects no particulars respecting him except that he was
"turn'd of 50. she thinks about 55. -- She remembers that
"his papers, & with them a large book of Letters, were
"delivered to Col. Richard Bland of prince George County,
"who, as she understood, was to finish the history of Virginia
"which her father had begun." -- The reverend Mr. Spooner,
formerly of New England, now rector of Martins Brandon
parish in prince George County, some years ago published
proposals for printing the works of Col. Bland, from
original papers in his possession. I think it probable
that Mr. Stith s papers & the Book mentioned by his
Daughter might have been among them, & have
obtained a promise from Bishop Madison to write to
Mr. Spooner on the subject. -- From the preface to
Stith's Appendix, it would appear that he had very
little Encouragement to go on with his work: a Circum=
=stance much to be regretted, as the materials at that day
within his reach are now irretrievable lost, all the public
Archives of Virginia which had escaped two Fires, having
been destroyed at Richmond by General Arnold. Mr.
Jefferson calls him "a Man of classical Learning, and
very exact, but of no taste in style." -- His prefaces bespeak him a Man of labour, well qualified for making a Compilation
of those materials, which he had not the Talent of arranging
and unfolding with that Elegance which constitutes one of
the Excellencies of an historian. I am encouraged to hope
that the mutilated Copy of his work, which I send you, may
with the Assistance of that which you mention having
seen, afford you a full view of his work, having observed
a reference to page 7th. of Stith, in the first volume of your
American Biography, and the Copy sent being perfect after
the eighth page. If however, I should be mistaken, if
you will apprise me of it. I will have the preface, &
the first eight pages transcribed, & send them to you.

It is but a few days since I have had the pleasure
of seeing the work which I have just mentioned. -- I read
it with pleasure, & hope that it's success has been such
as to give us hopes of seeing the Continuation. -- The
Account given of Biron I find perfectly corresponds
with that of Monsr. Mallet in his northern Antiquities, a
work, which if you have not seen, you will probably
find deserving a place in your library. I am led to take
the Liberty of making this remark, as I observed you had
not referred to him it. -- I sometime since met with a
Book entitled "Letters on Iceland" -- the Author a --
German or Dane, or Swede, whose name I do not
recollect. If I mistake not he mentions some traces
of Biron's Voyage to Finland, though possibly my having
read Mallet since, may occasion me to mistake: This
has mentioned Author accompanied Sir Joseph Banks

to Iceland a few years ago: the cursory reading that I
was obliged to give it occasions me to doubt whether I am
correct in saying that he mentioned Biron's Voyage to Finland.
I had also the pleasure of seeing one number of the publi=
=cations of the historical Society in Boston. I wish that such
Societies were established in every part of the Union, or
that Correspondents were diffused throughout the United
States. You will do me a favor by transmitting me
all the numbers that have been published, bound in
annual or biennial volumes, & by placing my name
on the list of subscribers. -- The Amount of my
subscription shall be transmitted thro' the Hands of
Messrs. Baxter & co in Richmond. Might I not
appear too presumptuous I would entreat [ . . . ]
you to forward me any litterary productions of merit
that either have appeared, or may hereafter appear
in Boston; at the head of this List I should beg leave
to mention the American Biography.

I fear Sir I have exhausted your patience by
this long Letter -- I will only add to it a repetition
of those thanks which you are entitled to from me,
& subscribe myself, with the highest respect and Esteem,
Your most obliged hble Servt.
S: G: Tucker.

You will receive by this
Post the Copy of Stith s
History of Virginia, &
a small pamphlett


Wmburg July 6 1795
The reverend Jeremy Belknap D.D.


J udge Tucker
June 29. 1795