political institutions. But enslaving your neighbours risked a similar fate for yourself. Pre-emptive raids as a strategy and a deterrent increased the certainty of retaliation. Slave raids benefited no one in the long run, though in the short run no one could afford to do without them. It was that short-run reality that stumped the ameliorative plans of Cuffee and others, and particularly those of the British parliament.
To push forward his economic ideas, Cuffee founded the Quaker-inspired Friendly Society of Sierra Leone, and later wrote to its secretary, the African American, James Wise: 'I instruct thee to endeavor that she, the Friendly Society, may not give up her commercial pursuits, for that is the greatest outlet to her national advancement. - I foresee this to be the means of improving both your country and nation.'6 Cuffee returned to the United States, departing Freetown on 4 April 1813 and arriving after a fifty-four-day voyage.
Thomas Clarkson, the Cambridge anti-slavery campaigner, in a notice of 24 January 1814, drew the public's attention to Cuffee's Friendly Society, saying it existed 'to devise means of disposing of [the settlers'] produce on the most advantageous terms, and of promoting habits of industry among each other. This association continues but', he cautioned, 'it cannot carry its useful plans into execution, without assistance from England'.7 Clarkson's apprehensions about the Friendly Society were echoed by William Allen who rallied to Cuf-fee's cause, which was then under attack from white trading interests in the Sierra Leone colony.
Later in 1814, a petition was presented to the Congress of the United States on Cuffee's behalf. The Speaker of the House remitted it to the Committee on Commerce and Manufacture. The Senate then tabled a resolution authorizing the President to allow Cuffee to leave for West Africa with a cargo of goods, but, as Britain and the United States were then at war, the measure was defeated on the grounds that it would let British goods elude the blockade imposed by Congress. A similar request to the British parliament on Cuffee's behalf was turned down as too risky given the current state of navigation laws, which were deemed to need special support as a result of the damaging effects of the Anglo-American War of 1812 as well as the continuing Napoleonic Wars.
Far from being discouraged by such setbacks, an undaunted Cuffee persisted with his efforts. With the help of fellow Quakers in Westport, he fitted out the Traveller again and set sail in November 1815. The Traveller was laden with a cargo of tobacco, soap, candles, naval stores, flour, iron to build a sawmill, a wagon, grindstones, nails, glass, and a plough. There were thirty-eight passengers, eighteen heads of family and twenty children, and common labourers who would till the soil.
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