GORDON, Charles G. (1833-1885). Two autograph letter signed ("C.G. Gordon"), Khartoum, 24 September 1878 to Sir Samuel Baker, and Khartoum, 20 October 1878 to Rev. Horace Waller. Together 11 pages, 8vo and 4to, 24 September letter incorporating autograph map of the Nile.
GORDON FIGHTS THE SLAVE TRADERS: "IT IS MERELY A QUESTION OF WHO IS THE SHARPEST, THE SLAVE DEALER OR THE GOV'T"
These two lengthy letters reveal Gordon's passionate determination to thwart the slave traders in Sudan, and bring about a gradual abolition of the traffic in human beings. He devised an unorthodox solution: legalizing and registering slaves, and then permitting the sale of only those slaves registered with the government. In the 24 September letter he thinks that "the mere fact that none but registered slaves being acknowledged by the Gov't. will do more, than anything else, to frighten off dealers from the trade, for the fact of unregistered slaves in their possession is damnatory to them...My plan is a definite one, it is easy to check its not being obeyed. Now it is merely a question of who is the sharpest, the slave dealer or the Govt., one pecuniarily interested...the other only lukewarm to prevent it." Vexed by conflicting local and imperial policies governing the trade, Gordon vents his frustration to a prominent British abolitionist in the 20 October letter. "Now that things have come to a dead lock I will write to you. But first of all take the convention & Duree of [Altyness ??] published in London Gazette 17 August 1877. Read Article 1 & 2 of Convention, Read Article 1 & 2 of Duree. Under the Convention, slave trading was a capital crime. Yet under Duree "it is punishable by from 5 months to 5 years imprisonment." Thus "A. can buy 3 slaves at Sheka from B. and yet do so lawfully, for Sheka is Arab territory, if A. takes the 3 slaves to Jeddah, on his pilgrimage, he is in rule. Yet how is it, if I catch A. en route or in Red Sea, I accuse him of Vol avec meutre, or else by the contradictory clause in Duree, give him 5 months, to 5 years in prison, all the time it being in his right, by the law of the land." He suggests that "the only way to stop the slave trade is to register the existing slaves, & legalize their possession, till the expunction of 12 years, freeing all slaves who are not registered." Rev. Waller was an anti-slavery evangelist who traveled throughout Africa, several times in the company of David Livingstone (see also Lot 14). (2)