"I, Richard Robert Madden, a British subject, having resided for the last three years and upwards, at Havana, where I have held official situations under the British government, depose and say, that I have held the office of superintendent of liberated Africans during that term, and still hold it; and have held for the term of one year, the office there, of British commissioners, in the Mixed Court of Justice. The duties of my office and of my avocation, have led me to become well acquainted with Africans recently imported from Africa. I have seen and had in my charge many hundreds of them. I have seen and had Africans in the custody of the marshal of the district of Connecticut, except the small children. I have examined them and observed their language, appearance, and manners; and I have no doubt of their having been, very recently, brought from Africa. To one of them, I spoke, and repeated a Mohammedan form of prayer in the Arabic language; the man immediately recognised the language, and repeated a few words of it after me, and appeared to understand it, particularly the words 'Allah akbar,' or God is great. The man who was beside this negro, I also addressed in Arabic, saying -- 'salaam ailkoem,' or peace be to you; he immediately, in the customary oriental salutations, replied -- 'aleckoum salaam,' or peace be on you. From my knowledge of oriental habits, and of the appearance of the newly imported slaves in Cuba, I have no doubt of those negroes of the Amistad being bona fide Bozal negroes, quite newly imported from Africa.I have a full knowledge of the subject of slavery -- slave trade in Cuba; and I know that no law exists, or has existed since the year 1820, that sanctions the introduction of negroes into the island of Cuba, from Africa for the purpose of making slaves, or being held in slavery; and, that all such Bozal negroes, as those recently imported are called, are legally free; and no law, common or statute, exists there, by which they can be held in slavery. Such Africans, long settled in Cuba, and acclimated, are called ladinos, and must have been introduced before 1820, and are so called in contradistinction to the term creole, which is applied to the negroes born in the island. I have seen, and now have before me, a document, dated 26th June, 1839, purporting to be signed by Ezpeleta, who is captain general of the island, to identify which, I have put my name to the lefthand corner of the document, in presence of the counsel of the Africans; this document, or "trasspasso," purporting to be a permit granted to Don I. Ruiz, to export from Havana to Porto Principe, forty-nine negroes, designated by Spanish names, and called therein ladinos, a term totally inapplicable to newly imported Africans. I have seen, and now have before me, another document, dated 22d June, 1839, and signed in the same manner, granted to Don Pedro Montez, for the removal of three negro children from Havana to Porto Principe, also disignated by Spanish names, and likewise called 'ladinos,' and wholly inapplicable to young African children, who could not have been acclimated, and long settled in the island; which document, I have identified in the same manner as the former. To have obtained these documents from the governor, for bona fide Bozal negroes, and have described them in the application for it, as ladinos, was evidently a fraud, but nothing more than such an application and the payment of the necessary fees would be required to procure it, as there is never any inquiry or inspection of the negroes on the part of the governor or his officers, nor is there any oath required from the applicant. I further state, that the above documents are manifestly inapplicable to the Africans of the Amisted, I have been here and in New Haven; but such documents are commonly obtained by similar applications at Havana, and by these means, the negroes recently and illegally introduced, are thus removed to the different ports of the island, and the danger obviated of their falling in with English cruisers, and then they are illegally carried into slavery. One of the largest dealers and importers of the island of Cuba, in African slaves, is the notorious house of Martiner & Co., of Havana; and for years past, as at present, they have been deeply engaged in this traffic; and the Bozal Africans, imported by these and all other slave traders, when brought to the Havana, are immediately taken to the barracoons, or slave marts; five of which are situated in the immediate vicinity of the governor's county house, about one mile and a half from the walls of Havana; and from these barracoons, they are taken and removed to the different parts of the island when sold; and having examined the endorsements on the back of the transspasso, or permits for the removal of the said negroes of the Amistad, the signature to that endorsement appears to be that of Martiner & Co.; and the document purports to be a permit of pass for the removal of the said negroes. The handwriting of Martiner & Co., I am not acquainted with. These barracoons, outside the city walls, are fitted up exclusively for the reception and sale of Bozal negroes; one of these barracoons or slave marts, called la miserecordia, or 'mercy,' kept by a man, named 'Riera,' I visited the 24th September last, in company with a person well acquainted with this establishment; and the factor or major domo of the master, in the absence of the latter, said to me, that the negroes of the Amistad had been purchased there; that he knew them well; that they had been bought by a man from Porto Principe, and had been embarked for that place; and speaking of the said negroes, he said, 'che, castima,' or what pity it is, which rather surprised me; the man further explained himself, and said, his regret was for the loss of so many valuable Bozals, in the event of their being executed in the United States.
"One of the houses most openly engaged, and notoriously implicated in the slave trade transactions, it that of Martiner & Co.; and their practice is to remove their newly arrived negroes from the slave ships to these barracoons, where they commonly remain two or three weeks before sold, as these negroes of the Amistad, illegally introduced by Martiner & Co., were in the present instance, as is generally reported and believed in the Havana. Of the Africans which I have seen and examined, from the necessity which my office imposes on me at the Havana of assisting at the registry of the newly imported Bozals, emancipated by the Mixed Court, I can speak with tolerable certainty of the ages of these people, with the excertion of the children, whom I have not seen. Sa, about 17; Ba, 21; Luckawa, 19; Tussi, 30; Beli, 18; Shuma, 26; Nama, 20; Tenquis, 21; the others, I had not time to take a note of their ages.
"With respect to the Mixed Commission, its jurisdiction extends only to cases of captured negroes brought in by British or Spanish cruisers; and notwithstanding the illegalities of the traffic in slaves, from twenty to twenty-five thousand slaves have been introduced into the island during the last three years; and such is the state of society, and of the administration of the laws there, that hopeless slavery is the inevitable result of their removal into the interior."
On his cross-examination the witness stated, that he was not acquainted with the dialects of the African tribes, but was slightly acquainted with the Arabic language. Lawful slaves of the island are not offered for sale generally, or often placed in the barracoons, or man marts. The practice in Havana is to use the barracoons "for Bozal negroes only." Barracoons are used for negroes recently imported, and for their reception and sale. The native language of the Africans is not often continued for a long time on certain plantations. "It has been to me a matter of astonishment at the shortness of time in which the language of the negroes is disused, and the Spanish language adopted and acquired. I speak this, from a very intimate knowledge of the condition of the negroes in Cuba, from frequent visits to plantations, and journeys in the interior; and, on this subject, I think I can say my knowledge is as full as any person's can be.
"There are five or six barracoons within pistol shot of the country residence of the Captain General of Cuba. On every other part of the coast where the slave trade is carried on, a barracoon or barracoons must likewise exist. They are a part of the things necessary to the slave trade, and are for its use only; for instance, near Matanzas there is a building or shed of this kind and used for this purpose.
"Any negroes landed in the island since 1820, and carried into slavery, have been illegally introduced; and the transfer of them under false names, such as calling Bozal, Ladinos, is, necessarily, a fraud. Unfortunately, there is no interference on the part of the local authorities; they connive at it, and collude with the slave traders; the governor, alone, at the Havana, receiving a bounty or impost on each negro thus illegally introduced, of ten dollars a head. As to the Mixed Commission, once the negroes clandestinely introduced are landed they no longer have cognisance of the violation of the treaty; the governor has cognisance of this and every other bearing of the Spanish law on Spanish soil. This head-money has not the sanction of any Spanish law for its imposition; and the proof of this is, it is called a voluntary contribution."
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