Part 3 out of 20
eight or ten years after they put them into the field.
[Footnote 4: Alexander Jones. Esq., a large planter in West Feliciana,
Louisiana, published a communication in the "North Carolina True
American," Nov. 25, 1838, in which, speaking of the horses employed in
the mills on the plantations for ginning cotton, he says, they "are
much whipped and jaded;" and adds, "In fact, this service is so severe
on horses, as to shorten their lives in many instances, if not
actually kill them in gear."
Those who work one kind of their "live stock" so as to "shorten their
lives," or "kill them in gear" would not stick at doing the same thing
to another kind.]
REV. DOCTOR REED, of London, who went through Kentucky, Virginia and
Maryland in the summer of 1834, gives the following testimony:
"I was told confidently and from _excellent authority_, that recently
at a meeting of planters in South Carolina, the question was seriously
discussed whether the slave is more profitable to the owner, if well
fed, well clothed, and worked lightly, or if made the most of _at
once_, and exhausted in some eight years. The decision was in favor of
the last alternative. That decision will perhaps make many shudder.
But to my mind this is not the chief evil. The greater and original
evil is considering the _slave as property_. If he is only property
and my property, then I have some right to ask how I may make that
property most available."
"Visit to the American Churches," by Rev. Drs. Reed and Mattheson.
Vol. 2 p. 173.
REV. JOHN O. CHOULES, recently pastor of a Baptist Church at New
Bedford, Massachusetts, now of Buffalo, New York, made substantially
the following statement in a speech in Boston.
"While attending the Baptist Triennial Convention at Richmond,
Virginia, in the spring of 1835, as a delegate from Massachusetts, I
had a conversation on slavery, with an officer of the Baptist Church
in that city, at whose house I was a guest. I asked my host if he did
not apprehend that the slaves would eventually rise and exterminate
"Why," said the gentleman, "I used to apprehend such a catastrophe,
but God has made a providential opening, a _merciful safety valve_,
and now I do not feel alarmed in the _prospect_ of what is coming.
'What do you mean,' said Mr. Choules, 'by providence opening a merciful
safety valve?' Why, said the gentleman, I will tell you; the slave
traders come from the cotton and sugar plantations of the South and
are willing to buy up more slaves than we can part with. We must keep
a stock for the purpose of _rearing_ slaves, but we part with the most
valuable, and at the same time, the most _dangerous_, and the demand
is very constant and likely to be so, for when they go to these
southern states, the average existence Is ONLY FIVE YEARS!"
Monsieur C.C. ROBIN, a highly intelligent French gentleman, who
resided in Louisiana from 1802 to 1806, and published a volume of
travels, gives the following testimony to the over-working of the
"I have been a witness, that after the fatigue of the day, their
labors have been prolonged several hours by the light of the moon; and
then, before they could think of rest, they must pound and cook their
corn; and yet, long before day, an implacable scold, whip in hand,
would arouse them from their slumbers. Thus, of more than twenty
negroes, who in twenty years should have doubled, the number _was
reduced to four or five_."
In conclusion we add, that slaveholders have in the most public and
emphatic manner declared themselves guilty of barbarous inhumanity
toward their slaves in exacting from them such _long continued daily
labor_. The Legislatures of Maryland, Virginia and Georgia, have
passed laws providing that convicts in their state prisons and
penitentiaries, "shall be employed in work each day in the year except
Sundays, not exceeding _eight_ hours, in the months of November,
December, and January; _nine_ hours, in the months of February and
October, and _ten_ hours in the rest of the year." Now contrast this
_legal_ exaction of labor from CONVICTS with the exaction from slaves
as established by the preceding testimony. The reader perceives that
the amount of time, in which by the preceding laws of Maryland,
Virginia, and Georgia, the _convicts_ in their prisons are required to
labor, is on an average during the year but little more than NINE
HOURS daily. Whereas, the laws of South Carolina permit the master to
_compel_ his slaves to work FIFTEEN HOURS in the twenty-four, in
summer, and FOURTEEN in the winter--which would be in winter, from
daybreak in the morning until _four hours_ after sunset!--See 2
Brevard's Digest, 243.
The other slave states, except Louisiana, have _no laws_ respecting
the labor of slaves, consequently if the master should work his slaves
day and night without sleep till they drop dead, _he violates no law!_
The law of Louisiana provides for the slaves but TWO AND A HALF HOURS
in the twenty-four for "rest!" See law of Louisiana, act of July 7
1806, Martin's Digest 6. 10--12.
We propose to show under this head, that the clothing of the slaves by
day, and their covering by night, are inadequate, either for comfort
Hon. T.T. Bouldin, a slave-holder, and member of Congress from Virginia
in a speech in Congress, Feb. 16, 1835.
Mr. Bouldin said "_he knew_ that many negroes had _died_ from exposure
to weather," and added, "they are clad in a _flimsy fabric, that will
turn neither wind nor water_."
George Buchanan, M.D., of Baltimore, member of the American
Philosophical Society, in an oration at Baltimore, July 4, 1791.
"The slaves, _naked_ and starved, _often_ fall victims to the
inclemencies of the weather."
Wm. Savery of Philadelphia, an eminent Minister of the Society of
Friends, who went through the Southern states in 1791, on a religious
visit; after leaving Savannah, Ga., we find the following entry in his
journal, 6th, month, 28, 1791.
"We rode through many rice swamps, where the blacks were very
numerous, great droves of these poor slaves, working up to the middle
in water, men and women nearly _naked_."
Rev. John Rankin, of Ripley, Ohio, a native of Tennessee.
"In every slave-holding state, _many slaves suffer extremely_, both
while they labor and while they sleep, _for want of clothing_ to keep
John Parrish, late of Philadelphia, a highly esteemed minister in the
Society of Friends, who travelled through the South in 1804.
"It is shocking to the feelings of humanity, in travelling through
some of those states, to see those poor objects, [slaves,] especially
in the inclement season, in _rags_, and _trembling with the cold_."
"They suffer them, both male and female, _to go without clothing_ at
the age of ten and twelve years"
Rev. Phineas Smith, Centreville, Allegany, Co., N.Y. Mr. S. has just
returned from a residence of several years at the south, chiefly in
Virginia, Louisiana, and among the American settlers in Texas.
"The apparel of the slaves, is of the coarsest sort and _exceedingly
deficient_ in quantity. I have been on many plantations where
children of eight and ten yeas old, were in a state of _perfect
nudity_. Slaves are _in general wretchedly clad_."
Wm. Ladd, Esq., of Minot, Maine, recently a slaveholder in Florida.
"They were allowed two suits of clothes a year, viz. one pair of
trowsers with a shirt or frock of osnaburgh for summer; and for
winter, one pair of trowsers, and a jacket of negro cloth, with a
baize shirt and a pair of shoes. Some allowed hats, and some did not;
and they were generally, I believe, allowed one blanket in two years.
Garments of similar materials were allowed the women."
A Kentucky physician, writing in the Western Medical Reformer, in
1836, on the diseases peculiar to slaves, says.
"They are _imperfectly clothed_ both summer and winter."
Mr. Stephen E. Maltby, Inspector of provisions, Skeneateles, N.Y., who
resided sometime in Alabama.
"I was at Huntsville, Alabama, in 1818-19, I frequently saw slaves on
and around the public square, _with hardly a rag of clothing on them_,
and in a _great many_ instances with but a single garment both in
summer and in winter; generally the only bedding of the slaves was a
Reuben G. Macy, Hudson, N.Y. member of the Society of Friends, who
resided in South Carolina, in 1818 and 19.
"Their clothing consisted of a pair of trowsers and jacket, made of
'negro cloth.' The women a petticoat, a very short 'short-gown,' and
_nothing else_, the same kind of cloth; some of the women had an old
pair of shoes, but they _generally went barefoot_."
Mr. Lemuel Sapington, of Lancaster, Pa., a native of Maryland, and
formerly a slaveholder.
"Their clothing is often made by themselves after night, though
sometimes assisted by the old women, who are no longer able to do
out-door work; consequently it is harsh and uncomfortable. And I have
very frequently seen those who had not attained the age of twelve
years _go naked_."
Philemon Bliss, Esq., a lawyer in Elyria, Ohio, who lived in Florida
in 1834 and 35.
"It is very common to see the younger class of slaves up to eight or
ten _without any clothing_, and most generally the laboring men wear
_no shirts_ in the warm season. The perfect nudity of the younger
slaves is so familiar to the whites of both sexes, that they seem to
witness it with perfect indifference. I may add that the aged and
feeble often _suffer from cold_."
Richard Macy, a member of the Society of Friends, Hudson, N.Y., who
has lived in Georgia.
"For _bedding_ each slave was allowed _one blanket_, in which they
rolled themselves up. I examined their houses, but could not find any
thing like _a bed_."
W.C. Gildersleeve, Esq., Wilkesbarre, Pa., a native of Georgia.
"It is an every day sight to see women as well as men, with no other
covering than a _few filthy rags fastened above the hips_, reaching
midway to the ankles. _I never knew any kind of covering for the head_
given. Children of both sexes, from infancy to ten years are seen in
companies on the plantations, _in a state of perfect nudity_. This was
so common that the most refined and delicate beheld them unmoved."
Mr. William Leftwich, a native of Virginia, now a member of the
Presbyterian Church, in Delhi, Ohio.
"The only bedding of the slaves generally consists of _two old
Advertisements like the following from the "New Orleans Bee," May 31,
1837, are common in the southern papers.
"10 DOLLARS REWARD.--Ranaway, the slave SOLOMON, about 28 years of
age; BADLY CLOTHED. The above reward will be paid on application to
FERNANDEZ & WHITING, No. 20, St. Louis St."
RANAWAY from the subscriber the negress FANNY, always badly dressed,
she is about 25 or 26 years old. JOHN MACOIN, 117 S. Ann st.
The Darien (Ga.), Telegraph, of Jan. 24, 1837, in an editorial
article, hitting off the aristocracy of the planters, incidentally
lets out some secrets, about the usual _clothing_ of the slaves. The
editor says,--"The planter looks down, with the most sovereign
contempt, on the merchant and the storekeeper. He deems himself a
lord, because he gets his two or three RAGGED servants, to row him to
his plantation every day, that he may inspect the labor of his hands."
The following is an extract from a letter lately received from Rev.
C.S. RENSHAW, of Quincy, Illinois.
"I am sorry to be obliged to give more testimony without the _name_.
An individual in whom I have great confidence, gave me the following
facts. That I am not alone in placing confidence in him, I subjoin a
testimonial from Dr. Richard Eells, Deacon of the Congregational
Church, of Quincy, and Rev. Mr. Fisher, Baptist Minister of Quincy.
"We have been acquainted with the brother who has communicated to you
some facts that fell under his observation, whilst in his native
state; he is a professed follower of our Lord, and we have great
confidence in him as a man of integrity, discretion, and strict
Christian principle. RICHARD EELLS. EZRA FISHER."
Quincy, Jan. 9th, 1839.
TESTIMONY.--"I lived for thirty years in Virginia, and have travelled
extensively through Fauquier, Culpepper, Jefferson, Stafford,
Albemarle and Charlotte Counties; my remarks apply to these Counties.
"The negro houses are miserably poor, generally they are a shelter
from neither the wind, the rain, nor the snow, and the earth is the
floor. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are only
exceptions; you may sometimes see puncheon floor, but never, or almost
never a plank floor. The slaves are generally without _beds or
bedsteads_; some few have cribs that they fasten up for themselves in
the corner of the hut. Their bed-clothes are a nest of rags thrown
upon a crib, or in the corner; sometimes there are three or four
families in one small cabin. Where the slaveholders have more than one
family, they put them in the same quarter till it is filled, then
build another. I have seen exceptions to this, when only one family
would occupy a hut, and where were tolerably comfortable bed-clothes.
"Most of the slaves in these counties are _miserably clad_. I have
known slaves who went without shoes all winter, perfectly barefoot.
The feet of many of them are frozen. As a general fact the planters do
not serve out to their slaves, drawers, or any under clothing, or
vests, or overcoats. Slaves sometimes, by working at night and on
Sundays, get better things than their masters serve to them.
"Whilst these things are true of _field-hands_, it is also true that
many slaveholders clothe their _waiters_ and coachmen like gentlemen.
I do not think there is any difference between the slaves of
professing Christians and others; at all events, it is so small as to
be scarcely noticeable.
"I have seen men and women at work in the field more than half naked:
and more than once in passing, when the overseer was not near, they
would stop and draw round them a tattered coat or some ribbons of a
skirt to hide their nakedness and shame from the stranger's eye."
Mr. GEORGE W. WESTGATE, a member of the Congregational Church in
Quincy, Illinois, who has spent the larger part of twelve years
navigating the rivers of the south-western slave states with keel
boats, as a trader, gives the following testimony as to the clothing
and lodging of the slaves.
"In lower Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana, the clothing of the
slaves is wretchedly poor; and grows worse as you go south, in the
order of the states I have named. The only material is cotton bagging,
i.e. bagging in which cotton is _baled_, not bagging made of cotton.
In Louisiana, especially in the lower country, I have frequently seen
them with nothing but a tattered coat, not sufficient to hide their
nakedness. In winter their clothing seldom serves the purpose of
comfort, and frequently not even of decent covering. In Louisiana _the
planters never think of serving out shoes to slaves_. In Mississippi
they give one pair a year generally. I never saw or heard of an
instance of masters allowing them _stockings_. A _small poor blanket
is generally the only bed-clothing_, and this they frequently wear in
the field when they have not sufficient clothing to hide their
nakedness or to keep them warm. Their manner of sleeping varies with
the season. In hot weather they stretch themselves anywhere and sleep.
As it becomes cool they roll themselves in their blankets, and lay
scattered about the cabin. In cold weather they nestle together with
their feet towards the fire, promiscuously. As a general fact the
earth is their only floor and bed--not one in ten have anything like a
bedstead, and then it is a mere bunk put up by themselves."
Mr. GEORGE A. AVERY, an elder in the fourth Congregational Church,
Rochester, N.Y., who spent four years in Virginia, says, "The slave
children, very commonly of both sexes, up to the ages of eight and ten
years, and I think in some instances beyond this age, go in a state of
_disgusting_ nudity. I have often seen them with their tow shirt
(their only article of summer clothing) which, to all human
appearance, had not been taken off from the time it was first put on,
worn off from the bottom upwards shred by shred, until nothing
remained but the straps which passed over their shoulders, and the
less exposed portions extending a very little way below the arms,
leaving the principal part of the chest, as well as the limbs,
SAMUEL ELLISON, a member of the Society of Friends, formerly of
Southampton Co., Virginia, now of Marlborough, Stark Co., Ohio, says,
"I knew a Methodist who was the owner of a number of slaves. The
children of both sexes, belonging to him, under twelve years of age,
were _entirely_ destitute of clothing. I have seen an old man
compelled to labor in the fields, not having rags enough to cover his
Rev. H. LYMAN, late pastor of the Free Presbyterian Church, in
Buffalo, N.Y., in describing a tour down and up the Mississippi river
in the winter of 1832-3, says, "At the wood yards where the boats
stop, it is not uncommon to see female slaves employed in carrying
wood. Their dress which was quite uniform was provided without any
reference to comfort. They had no covering for their heads; the stuff
which constituted the outer garment was sackcloth, similar to that in
which brown domestic goods are done up. It was then December, and I
thought that in such a dress, and being as they were, without
_stockings_, they must suffer from the cold."
Mr. Benjamin Clendenon, Colerain, Lancaster Co., Pa., a member of the
Society of Friends, in a recent letter describing a short tour through
the northern part of Maryland in the winter of 1836, thus speaks of a
place a few miles from Chestertown. "About this place there were a
number of slaves; very few, if any, had _either stockings or shoes_;
the weather was intensely cold, and the ground covered with snow."
The late Major Stoddard of the United States' artillery, who took
possession of Louisiana for the U.S. government, under the cession of
1804, published a book entitled "Sketches of Louisiana," in which,
speaking of the planters of Lower Louisiana, he says, "_Few of them
allow any clothing to their slaves_."
The following is an extract from the Will of the late celebrated John
Randolph of Virginia.
"To my old and faithful servants, Essex and his wife Hetty, I give and
bequeath a pair of strong shoes, a suit of clothes and a blanket each,
to be paid them annually; also an annual hat to Essex."
No Virginia slaveholder has ever had a better name as a "kind master,"
and "good provider" for his slaves, than John Randolph. Essex and
Hetty were _favorite_ servants, and the memory of the long
uncompensated services of those "old and faithful servants," seems to
have touched their master's heart. Now as this master was _John
Randolph_, and as those servants were "faithful," and favorite
servants, advanced in years, and worn out in his service, and as their
allowance was, in their master's eyes, of sufficient moment to
constitute a paragraph in his last _will and testament_, it is fair to
infer that it would be _very liberal_, far better than the ordinary
allowance for slaves.
Now we leave the reader to judge what must be the _usual_ allowance of
clothing to common field slaves in the hands of common masters, when
Essex and Hetty, the "old" and "faithful" slaves of John Randolph,
were provided, in his last will and testament, with but _one_ suit of
clothes annually, with but _one blanket_ each for bedding, with no
_stockings_, nor _socks_, nor _cloaks_, nor overcoats, nor
_handkerchiefs_, nor _towels_, and with no _change_ either of under or
THE SLAVES ARE WRETCHEDLY SHELTERED AND LODGED.
Mr. Stephen E. Maltby. Inspector of provisions, Skaneateles, N.Y. who
has lived in Alabama.
"The huts where the slaves slept, generally contained but _one_
apartment, and that _without floor_."
Mr. George A. Avery, elder of the 4th Presbyterian Church, Rochester,
N.Y. who lived four years in Virginia.
"Amongst all the negro cabins which I saw in Va., _I cannot call to
mind one_ in which there was any other floor than the _earth_; any
thing that a northern laborer, or mechanic, white or colored, would
call a _bed_, nor a solitary _partition_, to separate the sexes."
William Ladd, Esq., Minot, Maine. President of the American Peace
Society, formerly a slaveholder in Florida.
"The dwellings of the slaves were palmetto huts, built by themselves
of stakes and poles, thatched with the palmetto leaf. The door, when
they had any, was generally of the same materials, sometimes boards
found on the beach. They had _no floors_, no separate apartments,
except the guinea negroes had sometimes a small inclosure for their
'god house.' These huts the slaves built themselves after task and on
Rev. Joseph M. Sadd, Pastor Pres. Church, Castile, Greene Co., N.Y.,
who lived in Missouri five years previous to 1837.
"The slaves live _generally_ in _miserable huts_, which are _without
floors_, and have a single apartment only, where both sexes are herded
Mr. George W. Westgate, member of the Congregational Church in Quincy,
Illinois, who has spent a number of years in slave states.
"On old plantations, the negro quarters are of frame and clapboards,
seldom affording a comfortable shelter from wind or rain; their size
varies from 8 by 10, to 10 by 12, feet, and six or eight feet high;
sometimes there is a hole cut for a window, but I never saw a sash, or
glass in any. In the new country, and in the woods, the quarters are
generally built of logs, of similar dimensions."
Mr. Cornelius Johnson, a member of a Christian Church in Farmington,
Ohio. Mr. J. lived in Mississippi in 1837-8.
"Their houses were commonly built of logs, sometimes they were framed,
often they had no floor, some of them have two apartments, commonly
but one; each of those apartments contained a family. Sometimes these
families consisted of a man and his wife and children, while in other
instances persons of both sexes, were thrown together without any
regard to family relationship."
The Western Medical Reformer, in an article on the Cachexia Africana
by a Kentucky physician, thus speaks of the huts of the slaves.
"They are _crowded_ together in a _small hut_, and sometimes having an
imperfect, and sometimes no floor, and seldom raised from the ground,
ill ventilated, and surrounded with filth."
Mr. William Leftwich, a native of Virginia, but has resided most of
his life in Madison, Co. Alabama.
"The dwellings of the slaves are log huts, from 10 to 12 feet square,
often without windows, doors, or floors, they have neither chairs,
table, or bedstead."
Reuben L. Macy of Hudson, N.Y. a member of the Religious Society of
Friends. He lived in South Carolina in 1818-19.
"The houses for the field slaves were about 14 feet square, built in
the coarsest manner, with one room, _without any chimney or flooring,
with a hole in the roof to let the smoke out_."
Mr. Lemuel Sapington of Lancaster, Pa. a native of Maryland, formerly
"The descriptions generally given of negro quarters, are correct; the
quarters are _without floors, and not sufficient to keep off the
inclemency of the weather_; they are uncomfortable both in summer and
Rev. John Rankin, a native of Tennessee.
"When they return to their miserable huts at night, they find not
there the means of comfortable rest; _but on the cold ground they must
lie without covering, and shiver while they slumber."_
Philemon Bliss, Esq. Elyria, Ohio, who lived in Florida, in 1835.
"The dwellings of the slaves are usually small _open_ log huts, with
but one apartment, and very generally _without floors_."
Mr. W.C. Gildersleeve, Wilkesbarre, Pa., a native of Georgia.
"Their huts were generally put up without a nail, frequently without
floors, and with a single apartment."
Hon. R.J. Turnbull, of South Carolina, a slaveholder.
"The slaves live in _clay cabins_."
V. TREATMENT OF THE SICK.
THE SLAVES SUFFER FROM HUMAN NEGLECT WHEN SICK
In proof of this we subjoin the following testimony:
Rev. Dr. CHANNING of Boston, who once resided in Virginia, relates the
following fact in his work on slavery, page 163, 1st edition.
"I cannot forget my feelings on visiting a hospital belonging to the
plantation of a gentleman _highly esteemed for his virtues_, and whose
manners and conversation expressed much _benevolence and
conscientiousness_. When I entered with him the hospital, the first
object on which my eye fell was a young woman, very ill, probably
approaching death. She was stretched on the floor. Her head rested on
something like a pillow; but _her body and limbs were extended on the
hard boards._ The owner, I doubt not, had at least as much kindness
as myself; but he was so used to see the slaves living without common
comforts, that the idea of unkindness in the present instance did not
enter his mind."
This _dying_ young woman "was _stretched on the floor_"--"her body and
limbs extended upon the hard boards,"--and yet her master "was highly
esteemed for his virtues," and his general demeanor produced upon Dr.
Channing the impression of "benevolence and conscientiousness" If the
_sick and dying female_ slaves of _such_ a master, suffer such
barbarous neglect, whose heart does not fail him, at the thought of
that inhumanity, exercised by the _majority_ of slaveholders, towards
their aged, sick, and dying victims.
The following testimony is furnished by SARAH M. GRIMKE, a sister of
the late Hon. Thomas S. Grimke, of Charleston, South Carolina.
"When the Ladies' Benevolent Society in Charleston, S.C., of which I
was a visiting commissioner, first went into operation, we were
applied to for the relief of several sick and aged colored persons;
one case I particularly remember, of an aged woman who was dreadfully
burnt from having fallen into the fire; she was living with some free
blacks who had taken her in out of compassion. On inquiry, we found
that _nearly all_ the colored persons who had solicited aid, were
_slaves_, who being no longer able to work for their "owners," were
thus inhumanly cast out in their sickness and old age, and must have
perished, but for the kindness of their friends.
"I was once visiting a sick slave in whose spiritual welfare peculiar
circumstances had led me to be deeply interested. I knew that she had
been early seduced from the path of virtue, as nearly all the female
slaves are. I knew also that her mistress, though a professor of
religion, had never taught her a single precept of Christianity, yet
that she had had her severely punished for this departure from them,
and that the poor girl was then ill of an incurable disease,
occasioned partly by her own misconduct, and partly by the cruel
treatment she had received, in a situation that called for tenderness
and care. Her heart seemed truly touched with repentance for her sins,
and she was inquiring, "What shall I do to be saved?" I was sitting by
her as she lay on the floor upon a blanket, and was trying to
establish her trembling spirit in the fullness of Jesus, when I heard
the voice of her mistress in loud and angry tones, as she approached
the door. I read in the countenance of the prostrate sufferer, the
terror which she felt at the prospect of seeing her mistress. I knew
my presence would be very unwelcome, but staid hoping that it might
restrain, in some measure, the passions of the mistress. In this,
however, I was mistaken; she passed me without apparently observing
that I was there, and seated herself on the other side of the sick
slave. She made no inquiry how she was, but in a tone of anger
commenced a tirade of abuse, violently reproaching her with her past
misconduct, and telling her in the most unfeeling manner, that eternal
destruction awaited her. No word of kindness escaped her. What had
then roused her temper I do not know. She continued in this strain
several minutes, when I attempted to soften her by remarking, that
------ was very ill, and she ought not thus to torment her, and that I
believed Jesus had granted her forgiveness. But I might as well have
tried to stop the tempest in its career, as to calm the infuriated
passions nurtured by the exercise of arbitrary power. She looked at me
with ineffable scorn, and continued to pour forth a torrent of abuse
and reproach. Her helpless victim listened in terrified silence, until
nature could endure no more, when she uttered a wild shriek, and
casting on her tormentor a look of unutterable agony, exclaimed, "Oh,
mistress, I am dying." This appeal arrested her attention, and she soon
left the room, but in the same spirit with which she entered it. The
girl survived but a few days, and, I believe, saw her mistress _no
Mr. GEORGE A. AVERY, an elder of a Presbyterian church in Rochester,
N.Y., who lived some years in Virginia, gives the following:
"The manner of treating the sick slaves, and especially in _chronic_
cases, was to my mind peculiarly revolting. My opportunities for
observation in this department were better than in, perhaps, any
other, as the friend under whose direction I commenced my medical
studies, enjoyed a high reputation as a _surgeon_. I rode considerably
with him in his practice, and assisted in the surgical operations and
dressings from time to time. In confirmed cases of disease, it was
common for the master to place the subject under the care of a
physician or surgeon, at whose expense the patient should be kept, and
if death ensued to the patient, or the disease was not cured, no
compensation was to be made, but if cured a bonus of one, two, or
three hundred dollars was to be given. No provision was made against
the _barbarity_ or _neglect_ of the physician, &c. I have seen
_fifteen or twenty of these helpless sufferers_ crowded together in
the true spirit of slaveholding inhumanity, like the "brutes that
perish," and driven from time to time _like_ brutes into a common
yard, where they had to suffer any and every operation and experiment,
which interest, caprice, or professional curiosity might
prompt,--unrestrained by law, public sentiment, or the claims of
Rev. WILLIAM T. ALLAN, son of Rev. Dr. Allan, a slaveholder, of
Huntsville, Alabama, says in a letter now before us:
"Colonel Robert H. Watkins, of Laurence county, Alabama, who owned
about three hundred slaves, after employing a physician among them for
some time, ceased to do so, alleging as the reason, that it was
cheaper to lose a few negroes every year than to pay a physician. This
Colonel Watkins was a Presidential elector in 1836."
A.A. GUTHRIE, Esq., elder in the Presbyterian church at Putnam,
Muskingum county, Ohio, furnishes the testimony which follows.
"A near female friend of mine in company with another young lady, in
attempting to visit a sick woman on Washington's Bottom, Wood county,
Virginia, missed the way, and stopping to ask directions of a group of
colored children on the outskirts of the plantation of Francis Keen,
Sen., they were told to ask 'aunty, in the house.' On entering the
hut, says my informant, I beheld such a sight as I hope never to see
again; its sole occupant was a female slave of the said Keen--her
whole wearing apparel consisted of a frock, made of the coarsest tow
cloth, and so scanty, that it could not have been made more tight
around her person. In the hut there was neither table, chair, nor
chest--a stool and a rude fixture in one corner, were all its
furniture. On this last were a little straw and a few old remnants of
what had been bedding--all exceedingly filthy.
"The woman thus situated _had been for more than a day in travail_,
without any assistance, any nurse, or any kind of proper
provision--during the night she said some fellow slave woman would
stay with her, and the aforesaid children through the day. From a
woman, who was a slave of Keen's at the same time, my informant
learned, that this poor woman suffered for three days, and then
died--when too late to save her life her master sent assistance. It
was understood to be a rule of his, to neglect his women entirely in
such times of trial, unless they previously came and informed him,
and asked for aid."
Rev. PHINEAS SMITH, of Centreville, N.Y, who has resided four years
at the south, says:
"Often when the slaves are sick, their accustomed toil is exacted from
them. Physicians are rarely called for their benefit."
Rev. HORACE MOULTON, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church in
Marlborough, Mass., who resided a number of years in Georgia, says:
"Another dark side of slavery is the neglect of the _aged_ and
_sick_. Many when sick, are suspected by their masters of _feigning_
sickness, and are therefore whipped out to work after disease has got
fast hold of them; when the masters learn, that they are really sick,
they are in many instances left alone in their cabins during work
hours; not a few of the slaves are left to die without having one
friend to wipe off the sweat of death. When the slaves are sick, the
masters do not, as a general thing, employ physicians, but "doctor"
them themselves, and their mode of practice in almost all cases is to
bleed and give salts. When women are confined they have no physician,
but are committed to the care of slave midwives. Slaves complain very
little when sick, when they die they are frequently buried at night
without much ceremony, and in many instances without any; their
coffins are made by nailing together rough boards, frequently with
their feet sticking out at the end, and sometimes they are put into
the ground without a coffin or box of any kind."
PERSONAL NARRATIVES--PART II.
TESTIMONY OF THE REV. WILLIAM T. ALLAN, LATE OF ALABAMA.
Mr. ALLAN is a son of the Rev. Dr. Allan, a slaveholder and pastor of
the Presbyterian Church at Huntsville, Alabama. He has recently
become the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Chatham, Illinois.
"I was born and have lived most of my life in the slave states, mainly
in the village of Huntsville, Alabama, where my parents still reside.
I seldom went to a _plantation_, and as my visits were confined almost
exclusively to the families of professing Christians, my _personal_
knowledge of slavery, was consequently a knowledge of its _fairest_
side, (if fairest may be predicated of foul.)
"There was one plantation just opposite my father's house in the
suburbs of Huntsville, belonging to Judge Smith, formerly a Senator in
Congress from South Carolina, now of Huntsville. The name of his
overseer was Tune. I have often seen him flogging the slaves in the
field, and have often heard their cries. Sometimes, too, I have met
them with the tears streaming down their faces, and the marks of the
whip, ('whelks,') on their bare necks and shoulders. Tune was so
severe in his treatment, that his employer dismissed him after two or
three years, lest, it was said, he should kill off all the slaves. But
he was immediately employed by another planter in the neighborhood.
The following fact was stated to me by my brother, James M. Allan, now
residing at Richmond, Henry county, Illinois, and clerk of the circuit
and county courts. Tune became displeased with one of the women who
was pregnant, he made her lay down over a log, with her face towards
the ground, and beat her so unmercifully, that she was soon after
delivered of a _dead child_.
"My brother also stated to me the following, which occurred near my
father's house, and within sight and hearing of the academy and public
garden. Charles, a fine active negro, who belonged to a bricklayer in
Huntsville, exchanged the burning sun of the brickyard to enjoy for a
season the pleasant shade of an adjacent mountain. When his master got
him back, he tied him by his hands so that his feet could just touch
the ground--stripped off his clothes, took a paddle, bored full of
holes, and paddled him leisurely all day long. It was two weeks before
they could tell whether he would live or die. Neither of these cases
attracted any particular notice in Huntsville.
"While I lived in Huntsville a slave was killed in the mountain near
by. The circumstances were these. A white man (James Helton) hunting
in the woods, suddenly came upon a black man, and commanded him to
stop, the slave kept on running, Helton fired his rifle and the negro
[Footnote 5: This murder was committed about twelve years since. At
that time, James G. Birney, Esq., now Corresponding Secretary of the
American Anti-Slavery Society was the Solicitor (prosecuting attorney)
for that judicial district. His views and feelings upon the subject of
slavery were, even at that period, in advance of the mass of
slaveholders, and he determined if possible to bring the murderer to
justice. He accordingly drew up an indictment and procured the finding
of a true bill against Helton. Helton, meanwhile, moved over the line
into the state of Tennessee, and such was the apathy of the community,
individual effort proved unavailing; and though the murderer had gone
no further than to an adjoining county (where perhaps he still
resides) he was never brought to trial.--ED.]
"Mrs. Barr, wife of Rev. H. Barr of Carrollton, Illinois, formerly
from Courtland, Alabama, told me last spring, that she has very often
stopped her ears that she might not hear the screams of slaves who
were under the lash, and that sometimes she has left her house, and
retired to a place more distant, in order to get away from their
"I have often seen groups of slaves on the public squares in
Huntsville, who were to be sold at auction, and I have often seen
their tears gush forth and their countenances distorted with anguish.
A considerable number were generally sold publicly every month.
"The following facts I have just taken down from the lips of Mr. L.
Turner, a regular and respectable member of the Second Presbyterian
Church in Springfield, our county town. He was born and brought up in
Caroline county, Virginia. He says that the slaves are neither
considered nor treated as human beings. One of his neighbors whose
name was Barr, he says, on one occasion stripped a slave and lacerated
his back with a handcard (for cotton or wool) and then washed it with
salt and water, with pepper in it. Mr. Turner _saw_ this. He further
remarked that he believed there were _many_ slaves there in advanced
life whose backs had never been well since they began to work.
"He stated that one of his uncles had killed a woman--broke her skull
with an ax helve: she had insulted her mistress! No notice was taken
of the affair. Mr. T. said, further, that slaves were _frequently
"He mentioned the case of one slaveholder, whom he had seen lay his
slaves on a large log, which he kept for the purpose, strip them, tie
them with the face downward, then have a kettle of hot water
brought--take the paddle, made of hard wood, and perforated with
holes, dip it into the hot water and strike--before every blow dipping
it into the water--every hole at every blow would raise a 'whelk.'
This was the usual punishment fur _running away_.
"Another slaveholder had a slave who had often run away, and often
been severely whipped. After one of his floggings he burnt his master's
barn: this so enraged the man, that when he caught him he took a pair
of pincers and pulled his toe nails out. The negro then murdered two
of his master's children. He was taken after a desperate pursuit,
(having been shot through the shoulder) and hung.
"One of Mr. Turner's cousins, was employed as overseer on a large
plantation in Mississippi. On a certain morning he called the slaves
together, to give some orders. While doing it, a slave came running
out of his cabin, having a knife in his hand and eating his breakfast.
The overseer seeing him coming with the knife, was somewhat alarmed,
and instantly raised his gun and shot him dead. He said afterwards,
that he believed the slave was perfectly innocent of any evil
intentions, he came out hastily to hear the orders whilst eating. _No_
notice was taken of the killing.
"Mr. T. related the whipping habits of one of his uncles in Virginia.
He was a wealthy man, had a splendid house and grounds. A tree in his
_front yard_, was used as a _whipping post_. When a slave was to be
punished, he would frequently invite some of his friends, have a
table, cards and wine set out under the shade; he would then flog his
slave a little while, and then play cards and drink with his friends,
occasionally taunting the slave, giving him the privilege of
confessing such and such things, at his leisure, after a while flog
him again, thus keeping it up for hours or half the day, and sometimes
all day. This was his _habit_.
"_February 4th._--Since writing the preceding, I have been to
Carrollton, on a visit to my uncle, Rev. Hugh Barr, who was originally
from Tennessee, lived 12 or 14 years in Courtland, Lawrence county,
Alabama, and moved to Illinois in 1835. In conversation with the
family, around the fireside, they stated a multitude of horrid facts,
that were perfectly notorious in the neighborhood of Courtland.
"William P. Barr, an intelligent young man, and member of his father's
church in Carrollton, stated the following. Visiting at a Mr.
Mosely's, near Courtland, William Mosely came in with a bloody knife
in his hand, having just stabbed a negro man. The negro was sitting
quietly in a house in the village, keeping a woman company who had
been left in charge of the house,--when Mosely, passing along, went in
and demanded his business there. Probably his answer was not as civil
as slaveholding requires, Mosely rushed upon him and stabbed him. The
wound laid him up for a season. Mosley was called to no account for
it. When he came in with the bloody knife, he said he wished he had
"John Brown, a slaveholder, and a member of the Presbyterian church in
Courtland, Alabama, stated the following a few weeks since, in
Carrollton. A man near Courtland, of the name of Thompson, recently
shot a negro _woman_ through the head; and put the pistol so close
that her hair was singed. He did it in consequence of some difficulty
in his dealings with her as a concubine. He buried her in a log heap;
she was discovered by the buzzards gathering around it.
"William P. Barr stated the following, as facts well known in the
neighborhood of Courtland, but not witnessed by himself. Two men, by
the name of Wilson, found a fine looking negro man at 'Dandridge's
Quarter,' without a pass; and flogged him so that he died in a short
time. They were not punished.
"Col. Blocker's overseer attempted to flog a negro--he refused to be
flogged; whereupon the overseer seized an axe, and cleft his skull.
The Colonel justified it.
"One Jones whipped a woman to death for 'grabbling' a potato hill. He
owned 80 or 100 negroes. His own children could not live with him.
"A man in the neighborhood of Courtland, Alabama, by the name of
Puryear, was so proverbially cruel that among the negroes he was
usually called 'the Devil.' Mrs. Barr, wife of Rev. H. Barr, was at
Puryear's house, and saw a negro girl about 13 years old, waiting
around the table, with a single garment--and that in cold weather;
arms and feet bare--feet wretchedly swollen--arms burnt, and full of
sores from exposure. All the negroes under his care made a wretched
"Col. Robert H. Watkins had a runaway slave, who was called Jim
Dragon. Before he was caught the last time, he had been out a year,
within a few miles of his master's plantation. He never stole from any
one but his master, except when necessity compelled him. He said he
had a right to take from his master; and when taken, that he had,
whilst out, seen his master a hundred times. Having been whipped,
clogged with irons, and yoked, he was set at work in the field. Col.
Watkins worked about 300 hands--generally had one negro out hunting
runaways. After employing a physician for some time among his negroes,
he ceased to do so, alleging as the reason, that it was cheaper to
lose a few negroes every year than to pay a physician. He was a
Presidential elector in 1836.
"Col. Ben Sherrod, another large planter in that neighborhood, is
remarkable for his kindness to his slaves. He said to Rev. Mr. Barr,
that he had no doubt he should be rewarded in heaven for his kindness
to his slaves; and yet his overseer, Walker, had to sleep with loaded
pistols, for fear of assassination. Three of the slaves attempted to
kill him once, because of his _treatment of their wives_.
"Old Major Billy Watkins was noted for his severity. I well remember,
when he lived in Madison county, to have often heard him yell at his
negroes with the most savage fury. He would stand at his house, and
watch the slaves picking cotton; and if any of them straitened their
backs for a moment, his savage yell would ring, 'bend your backs.'
"Mrs. Barr stated, that Mrs. H----, of Courtland, a member of the
Presbyterian church, sent a little negro girl to jail, suspecting that
she had attempted to put poison in the water pail. The fact was, that
the child had found a vial, and was playing in the water. This same
woman (in high standing too,) told the Rev. Mr. McMillan, that she
could 'cut Arthur Tappan's throat from ear to ear.'
"The clothing of slaves is in many cases comfortable, and in many it
is far from being so. I have very often seen slaves, whose tattered
rags were neither comfortable nor decent.
"Their _huts_ are sometimes comfortable, but generally they are
miserable _hovels_, where male and female are herded promiscuously
"As to the _usual_ allowance of food on the plantations in North
Alabama, I cannot speak confidently, from _personal_ knowledge. There
was a slave named Hadley, who was in the habit of visiting my father's
slaves occasionally. He had run away several times. His reason was, as
he stated, that they would not give him any meat--said he could not
work without meat. The last time I saw him, he had quite a heavy iron
yoke on his neck, the two prongs twelve or fifteen inches long,
extending out over his shoulders and bending upwards.
"_Legal_ marriage is unknown among the slaves, they sometimes have a
marriage form--generally, however, _none at all_. The pastor of the
Presbyterian church in Huntsville, had two families of slaves when I
left there. One couple were married by a negro preacher--the man was
robbed of his wife a number of months afterwards, by her '_owner_.'
The other couple just 'took up together,' without any form of
marriage. They are both members of churches--the man a Baptist deacon,
sober and correct in his deportment. They have a large family of
children--all children of concubinage--living in a minister's family.
"If these statements are deemed of any value by you, in forwarding
your glorious enterprize, you are at liberty to use them as you
please. The great wrong is _enslaving a man_; all other wrongs are
pigmies, compared with that. Facts might be gathered abundantly, to
show that it is _slavery itself_, and not cruelties merely, that make
slaves unhappy. Even those that are most kindly treated, are generally
far from being happy. The slaves in my father's family are almost as
kindly treated as _slaves_ can be, yet they pant for liberty.
"May the Lord guide you in this great movement. In behalf of the
perishing, Your friend and brother, WILLIAM. T. ALLAN"
NARRATIVE OF MR. WILLIAM LEFTWICH, A NATIVE OF VIRGINIA.
Mr. Leftwich is a grandson of Gen. Jabez Leftwich, who was for some
years a member of Congress from Virginia. Though born in Virginia, he
has resided most of his life in Alabama. He now lives in Delhi,
Hamilton county, Ohio, near Cincinnati.
As an introduction to his letter, the reader is furnished with the
following testimonial to his character, from the Rev. Horace Bushnell,
pastor of the Presbyterian church in Delhi. Mr. B. says:
"Mr. Leftwich is a worthy member of this church, and is a young man of
sterling integrity and veracity.
The following is the letter of Mr. Leftwich, dated Dec. 26, 1838.
"Dear Brother--I am not ranked among the abolitionists, yet I cannot,
as a friend of humanity, withhold from the public such facts in
relation to the condition of the slaves, as have fallen under my own
observation. That I am somewhat acquainted with slavery will be seen,
as I narrate some incidents of my own life. My parents were
slaveholders, and moved from Virginia to Madison county, Alabama,
during my infancy. My mother soon fell a victim to the climate. Being
the youngest of the children, I was left in the care of my aged
grandfather, who never held a slave, though his sons owned from 90 to
100 during the time I resided with him. As soon as I could carry a
hoe, my uncle, by the name of Neely, persuaded my grandfather that I
should be placed in his hands, and brought up in habits of industry. I
was accordingly placed under his tuition. I left the domestic circle,
little dreaming of the horrors that awaited me. My mother's own
brother took me to the cotton field, there to learn habits of
industry, and to be benefited by his counsels. But the sequel proved,
that I was there to feel in my own person, and witness by experience
many of the horrors of slavery. Instead of kind admonition, I was to
endure the frowns of one, whose sympathies could neither be reached by
the prayers and cries of his slaves, nor by the entreaties and
sufferings of a sister's son. Let those who call slaveholders kind,
hospitable and humane, mark the course the slaveholder pursues with
one born free, whose ancestors fought and bled for liberty; and then
say, if they can without a blush of shame, that he who robs the
helpless of every _right_, can be truly kind and hospitable.
"In a short time after I was put upon the plantation, there was but
little difference between me and the slaves, except being _white_, I
ate at the master's table. The slaves were my companions in misery,
and I well learned their condition, both in the house and field. Their
dwellings are log huts, from ten to twelve feet square; often without
windows, doors or floors. They have neither chairs, tables or
bedsteads. These huts are occupied by eight, ten or twelve persons
each. Their bedding generally consists of two old blankets. Many of
them sleep night after night sitting upon their blocks or stools;
others sleep in the open air. Our task was appointed, and from dawn
till dark all must bend to their work. Their meals were taken without
knife or plate, dish or spoon. Their food was corn _pone_, prepared in
the coarsest manner, with a small allowance of meat. Their meals in
the field were taken from the hands of the carrier, wherever he found
them, with no more ceremony than in the feeding of swine. My uncle was
his own overseer. For punishing in the field, he preferred a large
hickory stick; and wo to him whose work was not done to please him,
for the hickory was used upon our heads as remorselessly as if we had
been mad dogs. I was often the object of his fury, and shall bear the
marks of it on my body till I die. Such was my suffering and
degradation, that at the end of five years, I hardly dared to say I
was _free_. When thinning cotton, we went mostly on our knees. One
day, while thus engaged, my uncle found my row behind; and, by way of
admonition, gave me a few blows with his hickory, the marks of which I
carried for weeks. Often I followed the example of the fugitive
slaves, and betook myself to the mountains; but hunger and fear drove
me back, to share with the wretched slave his toil and stripes. But I
have talked enough about my own bondage; I will now relate a few
facts, showing the condition of the slaves _generally_.
"My uncle wishing to purchase what is called a good 'house wench,' a
_trader_ in human flesh soon produced a woman, recommending her as
highly as ever a jockey did a horse. She was purchased, but on trial
was found wanting in the requisite qualifications. She then fell a
victim to the disappointed rage of my uncle; innocent or guilty, she
suffered greatly from his fury. He used to tie her to a peach tree in
the yard, and whip her till there was no sound place to lay another
stroke, and repeat it so often that her back was kept continually
sore. Whipping the females around the legs, was a favorite mode of
punishment with him. They must stand and hold up their clothes, while
he plied his hickory. He did not, like some of his neighbors, keep a
pack of hounds for hunting runaway negroes, but be kept one dog for
that purpose, and when he came up with a runaway, it would have been
death to attempt to fly, and it was nearly so to stand. Sometimes,
when my uncle attempted to whip the slaves, the dog would rush upon
them and relieve them of their rags, if not of their flesh. One object
of my uncle's special hate was "Jerry," a slave of a proud spirit. He
defied all the curses, rage and stripes of his tyrant. Though he was
often overpowered--for my uncle would frequently wear out his stick
upon his head--yet be would never submit. As he was not expert in
picking cotton, he would sometimes run away in the fall, to escape
abuse. At one time, after an absence of some months, he was arrested
and brought back. As is customary, he was stripped, tied to a log, and
the cow-skin applied to his naked body till his master was exhausted.
Then a large log chain was fastened around one ankle, passed up his
back, over his shoulders, then across his breast, and fastened under
his arm. In this condition he was forced to perform his daily task.
Add to this he was chained each night, and compelled to chop wood
every Sabbath, to make up lost time. After being thus manacled for
some months, he was released--but his spirit was unsubdued. Soon
after, his master, in a paroxysm of rage, fell upon him, wore out his
staff upon his head, loaded him again with chains, and after a month,
sold him farther south. Another slave, by the name of Mince, who was a
man of great strength, purloined some bacon on a Christmas eve. It was
missed in the morning, and he being absent, was of course suspected.
On returning home, my uncle commanded him to come to him, but he
refused. The master strove in vain to lay hands on him; in vain he
ordered his slaves to seize him--they dared not. At length the master
hurled a stone at his head sufficient to have felled a bullock--but he
did not heed it. At that instant my aunt sprang forward, and
presenting the gun to my uncle, exclaimed, 'Shoot him! shoot him !' He
made the attempt, but the gun missed fire, and Mince fled. He was
taken eight or ten months after while crossing the Ohio. When brought
back, the master, and an overseer on another plantation, took him to
the mountain and punished him to their satisfaction in secret; after
which he was loaded with chains and set to his task.
"I here spent nearly all my life in the midst of slavery. From being
the son of a slaveholder, I descended to the condition of a slave, and
from that condition I rose (if you please to call it so,) to the
station of a '_driver_.' I have lived in Alabama, Tennessee, and
Kentucky; and I _know_ the condition of the slaves to be that of
unmixed wretchedness and degradation. And on the part of slaveholders,
there is cruelty _untold_. The labor of the slave is constant toil,
wrung out by fear. Their food is scanty, and taken without comfort.
Their clothes answer the purposes neither of comfort nor decency. They
are not allowed to read or write. Whether they may worship God or not,
depends on the will of the master. The young children, until they can
work, often go naked during the warm weather. I could spend months in
detailing the sufferings, degradation and cruelty inflicted upon
slaves. But my soul sickens at the remembrance of these things."
TESTIMONY OF MR. LEMUEL SAPINGTON, A NATIVE OF MARYLAND.
Mr. Sapington, is a repentant "soul driver" or slave trader, now a
citizen of Lancaster, Pa. He gives the following testimony in a letter
dated, Jan. 21, 1839.
"I was born in Maryland, afterwards moved to Virginia, where I
commenced the business of farming and trafficking in slaves. In my
neighborhood the slaves were 'quartered.' The description generally
given of negro quarters is correct. The quarters are without floors,
and not sufficient to keep off the inclemency of the weather, they are
uncomfortable both in summer and winter. The food there consists of
potatoes, pork, and corn, which were given to them daily, by weight
and measure. The sexes were huddled together promiscuously. Their
clothing is made by themselves after night, though sometimes assisted
by the old women who are no longer able to do out door work,
consequently it is harsh and uncomfortable. I have frequently seen
those of both sexes who have not attained the age of twelve years go
naked. Their punishments are invariably cruel. For the slightest
offence, such as taking a hen's egg, I have seen them stripped and
suspended by their hands, their feet tied together, a fence rail of
ordinary size placed between their ankles, and then most cruelly
whipped, until, from head to foot, they were completely lacerated, a
pickle made for the purpose of salt and water, would then be applied
by a fellow-slave, for the purpose of healing the wounds as well as
giving pain. Then taken down and without the least respite sent to
work with their hoe.
"Pursuing my assumed right of driving souls, I went to the Southern
part of Virginia for the purpose of trafficking in slaves. In that
part of the state, the cruelties practised upon the slaves, are far
greater than where I lived. The punishments there often resulted in
death to the slave. There was no law for the negro, but that of the
overseer's whip. In that part of the country, the slaves receive
nothing for food, but corn in the ear, which has to be prepared for
baking after working hours, by grinding it with a hand-mill. This they
take to the fields with them, and prepare it for eating, by holding it
on their hoes, over a fire made by a stump. Among the gangs, are often
young women, who bring their children to the fields, and lay them in a
fence corner, while they are at work, only being permitted to nurse
them at the option of the overseer. When a child is three weeks old, a
woman is considered in working order. I have seen a woman, with her
young child strapped to her back, laboring the whole day, beside a
man, perhaps the father of the child, and he not being permitted to
give her any assistance, himself being under the whip. The uncommon
humanity of the driver allowing her the comfort of doing so. I was
then selling a drove of slaves, which I had brought by water from
Baltimore, my conscience not allowing me to drive, as was generally
the case uniting the slaves by collars and chains, and thus driving
them under the whip. About that time an unaccountable something, which
I now know was an interposition of Providence, prevented me from
prosecuting any farther this unholy traffic; but though I had quitted
it, I still continued to live in a slave state, witnessing every day
its evil effects upon my fellow beings. Among which was a
heart-rending scene that took place in my father's house, which led me
to lease a slave state, as well as all the imaginary comforts arising
from slavery. On preparing for my removal to the state of
Pennsylvania, it became necessary for me to go to Louisville, in
Kentucky, where, if possible, I became more horrified with the
impositions practiced upon the negro than before. There a slave was
sold to go farther south, and was hand-cuffed for the purpose of
keeping him secure. But choosing death rather than slavery, he jumped
overboard and was drowned. When I returned four weeks afterwards his
body, that had floated three miles below, was yet unburied. One fact;
it is impossible for a person to pass through a slave state, if he has
eyes open, without beholding every day cruelties repugnant to
TESTIMONY OF MRS. NANCY LOWRY, A NATIVE OF KENTUCKY.
Mrs. Lory, is a member of the non-conformist church in Osnaburg, Stark
County, Ohio, she is a native of Kentucky. We have received from her
the following testimony.
"I resided in the family of Reuben Long, the principal part of the
time, from seven to twenty-two years of age. Mr. Long had 16 slaves,
among whom were three who were treated with severity, although Mr.
Long was thought to be a very human master. These three, namely John,
Ned, and James, had wives; John and Ned had theirs at some distance,
but James had his with him. All three died a premature death, and it
was generally believed by his neighbors, that extreme whipping was the
cause. I believe so too. Ned died about the age of 25 and John 34 or
35. The cause of their flogging was commonly staying a little over the
time, with their wives. Mr. Long would tie them up by the wrist, so
high that their toes would just touch the ground, and then with a
cow-hide lay the lash upon the naked back, until he was exhausted,
when he would sit down and rest. As soon as he had rested
sufficiently, he would ply the cow-hide again, thus he would continue
until the whole back of the poor victim was lacerated into one uniform
coat of blood. Yet he was a strict professor of the Christian
religion, in the southern church. I frequently washed the wounds of
John, with salt water, to prevent putrefaction. This was the usual
course pursued after a severe flogging; their backs would be full of
gashes, so deep the I could almost lay my finger in them. They were
generally laid up after the flogging for several days. The last
flogging Ned got, he was confined to the bed, which he never left till
he was carried to his grave. During John's confinement in his last
sickness on one occasion while attending on him, he exclaimed, 'oh,
Nancy, Miss Nancy, I haven't much longer in this world, I feel as if
my whole body inside and all my bones were beaten into a jelly.' Soon
after he died. John and Ned were both professors of religion.
"John Ruffner, a slaveholder, had one slave named Pincy, whom he as
well as Mrs. Ruffner would often flog very severely. I frequently saw
Mrs. Ruffner flog her with the broom, shovel, or any thing she could
seize in her rage. She would knock her down and then kick and stamp
her most unmercifully, until she would be apparently so lifeless, that
I more than once thought she would never recover. Often Pincy would
try to shelter herself from the blows of her mistress, by creeping
under the bed, from which Mrs. Ruffner would draw her by the feet, and
then stamp and leap on her body, till her breath would be gone. Often
Pincy, would cry, 'Oh Missee, don't kill me!' 'Oh Lord, don't kill
me!' 'For God's sake don't kill me!' But Mrs. Ruffner would beat and
stamp away, with all the venom of a demon. The cause of Pincy's
flogging was, not working enough, or making some mistake in baking,
&c. &c. Many a night Pincy had to lie on the bare floor, by the side
of the cradle, rocking the baby of her mistress, and if she would fall
asleep, and suffer the child to cry, so as to waken Mrs. Ruffner, she
would be sure to receive a flogging."
TESTIMONY OF MR. WM. C. GILDERSLEEVE, A NATIVE OF GEORGIA
MR. W.C. GILDERSLEEVE, a native of Georgia, is an elder of the
Presbyterian Church at Wilkesbarre, Pa.
"_Acts of cruelty, without number, fell under my observation_ while I
lived in Georgia. I will mention but one. A slave of a Mr. Pinkney, on
his way with a wagon to Savannah, 'camped' for the night by the road
side. That night, the nearest hen-roost was robbed. On his return, the
hen-roost was again visited, and the fowl counted one less in the
morning. The oldest son, with some attendants made search, and came
upon the poor fellow, in the act of dressing his spoil. He was too
nimble for them, and made his retreat good into a dense swamp. When
much effort to start him from his hiding place had proved
unsuccessful, it was resolved to lay an ambush for him, some distance
ahead. The wagon, meantime, was in charge of a lad, who accompanied
the teamster as an assistant. The little boy lay still till nearly
night, (in the hope probably that the teamster would return,) when he
started with his wagon. After travelling some distance, the lost one
made his appearance, when the ambush sprang upon him. The poor fellow
was conducted back to the plantation. He expected little mercy. He
begged for himself, in the most suplicating manner, 'pray massa give
me 100 lashes and let me go.' He was then tied by the hands, to a limb
of a large mulberry tree, which grew in the yard, so that his feet
were raised a few inches from the ground, while a _sharpened stick_
was driven underneath that he might rest his weight on it, or swing by
his hands. In this condition 100 lashes were laid on his bare body. I
stood by and witnessed the whole, without as I recollect feeling the
least compassion. So hardening is the influence of slavery, that it
very much destroys feeling for the slave."
TESTIMONY OF MR. HIRAM WHITE--A NATIVE OF NORTH CAROLINA
Mr. WHITE resided thirty-two years in Chatham county, North Carolina,
and is now a member of the Baptist Church, at Otter Creek Prairie,
About the 20th December 1830, a report was raised that the slaves in
Chatham county, North Carolina, were going to rise on Christmas day,
in consequence of which a considerable commotion ensued among the
inhabitants; orders were given by the Governor to the militia
captains, to appoint patrolling captains in each district, and orders
were given for every man subject to military duty to patrol as their
captains should direct. I went two nights in succession, and after
that refused to patrol at all. The reason why I refused was this,
orders were given to search every negro house for books or prints of
any kind, and _Bibles_ and _Hymn books_ were particularly mentioned.
And should we find any, our orders were to inflict punishment by
whipping the slave until he _informed who_ gave them to him, or how
they came by them.
As regards the comforts of the slaves in the vicinity of my residence,
I can say they had nothing that would bear that name. It is true, the
slaves in general, of a good crop year, were tolerably well fed, but
of a bad crop year, they were, as a general thing, cut short of their
allowance. Their houses were pole cabins, without loft or floor. Their
beds were made of what is there called "broom-straw." The men more
commonly sleep on benches. Their clothing would compare well with
their lodging. Whipping was common. It was hardly possible for a man
with a common pair of ears, if he was out of his house but a short
time on Monday mornings, to miss of hearing the sound of the lash, and
the cries of the sufferers pleading with their masters to desist.
These scenes were more common throughout the time of my residence
there, from 1799 to 1831.
Mr. Hedding of Chatham county, held a slave woman. I traveled past
Heddings as often as once in two weeks during the winter of 1828, and
always saw her clad in a single cotton dress, sleeves came half way to
the elbow, and in order to prevent her running away, a child, supposed
to be about seven years of age, was connected with her by a long chain
fastened round her neck, and in this situation she was compelled all
the day to grub up the roots of shrubs and sapplings to prepare ground
for the plough. It is not uncommon for slaves to make up on Sundays
what they are not able to perform through the week of their tasks.
At the time of the rumored insurrection above named, Chatham jail was
filled with slaves who were said to have been concerned in the plot.
Without the least evidence of it, they were punished in divers ways;
some were whipped, some had their _thumbs screwed in a vice_ to make
them confess, but no proof satisfactory was ever obtained that the
negroes had ever thought of an insurrection, nor did any so far as I
could learn, acknowledge that an insurrection had ever been projected.
From this time forth, the slaves were prohibited from assembling
together for the worship of God, and many of those who had previously
been authorized to preach the gospel were prohibited.
Amalgamation was common. There was scarce a family of slaves that had
females of mature age where there were not some mulatto children.
_Otter Creek Prairie, Jan. 22, 1839_.
TESTIMONY OF MR. JOHN M. NELSON--A NATIVE OF VIRGINIA.
Extract of a letter, dated January 3, 1839, from John M. Nelson, Esq.,
of Hillsborough. Mr. Nelson removed from Virginia to Highland county,
Ohio, many years since, where he is extensively known and respected.
I was born and raised in Augusta county, Virginia; my father was an
elder in the Presbyterian Church, and was "owner" of about twenty
slaves; he was what was generally termed a "good master." His slaves
were generally tolerably well fed and clothed, and not over worked,
they were sometimes permitted to attend church, and called in to
family worship; few of them, however, availed themselves of these
privileges. On _some occasions_ I have seen him whip them severely,
particularly for the crime of trying to obtain their liberty, or for
what was called, "running away." For _this_ they were scourged more
severely than for any thing else. After they have been retaken, I have
seen them stripped naked and suspended by the hands, sometimes to a
tree, sometimes to a post, until their toes barely touched the ground,
and whipped with a cowhide until the blood dripped from their backs. A
boy named Jack, particularly, I have seen served in this way more than
once. When I was quite a child, I recollect it grieved me very much to
see one _tied up_ to be whipped, and I used to intercede with tears in
their behalf, and mingle my cries with theirs, and feel almost willing
to take part of the punishment; I have been severely rebuked by my
father for this kind of sympathy. Yet, such is the hardening nature of
such scenes, that from this kind of commiseration for the suffering
slave, I became so blunted that I could not only witness their stripes
with composure, but _myself_ inflict them, and that without remorse.
One case I have often looked back to with sorrow and contrition,
particularly since I have been convinced that "negroes are men." When
I was perhaps fourteen or fifteen years of age, I undertook to correct
a young fellow named Ned, for some supposed offence; I think it was
leaving a bridle out of its proper place; he being larger and stronger
than myself took hold of my arms and held me, in order to prevent my
striking him; this I considered the height of insolence, and cried for
help, when my father and mother both came running to my rescue. My
father stripped and tied him, and took him into the orchard, where
switches were plenty, and directed me to whip him; when one switch
wore out he supplied me with others. After I had whipped him a while,
he fell on his knees to implore forgiveness, and I kicked him in the
face; my father said, "don't kick him, but whip him;" this I did until
his back was literally covered with _welts_. I know I have repented,
and trust I have obtained pardon for these things.
My father owned a woman, (we used to call aunt Grace,) she was
purchased in Old Virginia. She has told me that her old master, in his
_will_, gave her her freedom, but at his death, his sons had sold her
to my father: when he bought her she manifested some unwillingness to
go with him, when she was put in irons and taken by force. This was
before I was born; but I remember to have seen the irons, and was told
that was what they had been used for. Aunt Grace is still living, and
must be between seventy and eighty years of age; she has, for the last
forty years, been an exemplary Christian. When I was a youth I took
some pains to learn her to read; this is now a great consolation to
her. Since age and infirmity have rendered her of little value to her
"owners," she is permitted to read as much as she pleases; this she
can do, with the aid of glasses, in the old family Bible, which is
almost the only book she has ever looked into. This with some little
mending for the black children, is all she does; she is still held as
a slave. I well remember what a _heart-rending scene_ there was in the
family when _my father sold her husband_; this was, I suppose,
thirty-five years ago. And yet my father was considered one of the
best of masters. I know of few who were better, but of _many_ who were
The last time I saw my father, which was in the fall of 1832, he
promised me that he would free all his slaves at his death. He died
however without doing it; and I have understood since, that he omitted
it, through the influence of Rev. Dr. Speece, a Presbyterian minister,
who lived in the family, and was a _warm friend of the Colonization
About the year 1809 or 10, I became a student of Rev. George Bourne;
he was the first abolitionist I had ever seen, and the first I had
ever heard pray or plead for the oppressed, which gave me the first
misgivings about the _innocence_ of slaveholding. I received
impressions from Mr. Bourne which I could not get rid of, and
determined in my own mind that when I settled in life, it should be in
a free state; this determination I carried into effect in 1813, when I
removed to this place, which I supposed at that time, to be all the
opposition to slavery that was necessary, but the moment I became
convinced that all slaveholding was in itself _sinful_, I became an
abolitionist, which was about four years ago.
[Footnote 6: Mr. Bourne resided seven years in Virginia, "in perils
among false brethren; fiercely persecuted for his faithful testimony
against slavery. More than twenty years since he published a work
entitled 'The Book and Slavery irreconcileable.'"]
TESTIMONY OF ANGELINA GRIMKE WELD.
Mrs. Weld is the youngest daughter of the late Judge Grimke, of the
Supreme Court of South Carolina, and a sister of the late Hon. Thomas
S. Grimke, of Charleston.
Fort Lee, Bergen Co., New Jersey, Fourth month 6th, 1839.
I sit down to comply with thy request, preferred in the name of the
Executive Committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society. The
responsibility laid upon me by such a request, leaves me no option.
While I live, and slavery lives, I _must_ testify against it. If I
should hold my peace, "the stone would cry out of the wall, and the
beam out of the timber would answer it." But though I feel a necessity
upon me, and "a woe unto me," if I withhold my testimony, I give it
with a heavy heart. My flesh crieth out, "if it be possible, let
_this_ cup pass from me;" but, "Father, _thy_ will be done," is, I
trust, the breathing of my spirit. Oh, the slain of the daughter of my
people! they lie in all the ways; their tears fall as the rain, and
are their meat day and night; their blood runneth down like water;
their plundered hearths are desolate; they weep for their husbands and
children, because they are not; and the proud waves do continually go
over them, while no eye pitieth, and no man careth for their souls.
But it is not alone for the sake of my poor brothers and sisters in
bonds, or for the cause of truth, and righteousness, and humanity,
that I testify; the deep yearnings of affection for the mother that
bore me, who is still a slaveholder, both in fact and in heart; for my
brothers and sisters, (a large family circle,) and for my numerous
other slaveholding kindred in South Carolina, constrain me to speak:
for even were slavery no curse to its victims, the exercise of
arbitrary power works such fearful ruin upon the hearts of
_slaveholders_, that I should feel impelled to labor and pray for its
overthrow with my last energies and latest breath.
I think it important to premise, that I have seen almost nothing of
slavery on _plantations_. My testimony will have respect exclusively
to the treatment of "_house-servants_," and chiefly those belonging to
the first families in the city of Charleston, both in the religious
and in the fashionable world. And here let me say, that the treatment
of _plantation_ slaves cannot be fully known, except by the poor
sufferers themselves, and their drivers and overseers. In a multitude
of instances, even the master can know very little of the actual
condition of his own field-slaves, and his wife and daughters far
less. A few facts concerning my own family will show this. Our
permanent residence was in Charleston; our country-seat (Bellemont,)
was 200 miles distant, in the north-western part of the state; where,
for some years, our family spent a few months annually. Our
_plantation_ was three miles from this family mansion. There, all the
field-slaves lived and worked. Occasionally, once a month, perhaps,
some of the family would ride over to the plantation, but I never
visited the _fields where the slaves were at work_, and knew almost
nothing of their condition; but this I do know, that the overseers who
had charge of them, were generally unprincipled and intemperate men.
But I rejoice to know, that the general treatment of slaves in that
region of country, was far milder than on the plantations in the lower
Throughout all the eastern and middle portions of the state, the
planters very rarely reside permanently on their plantations. They
have almost invariably _two residences_, and spend less than half the
year on their estates. Even while spending a few months on them,
politics, field-sports, races, speculations, journeys, visits,
company, literary pursuits, &c., absorb so much of their time, that
they must, to a considerable extent, take the condition of their
slaves _on trust_, from the reports of their overseers. I make this
statement, because these slaveholders (the wealthier class,) are, I
believe, almost the only ones who visit the north with their
families;--and northern opinions of slavery are based chiefly on their
But not to dwell on preliminaries, I wish to record my testimony to
the faithfulness and accuracy with which my beloved sister, Sarah M.
Grimke, has, in her 'narrative and testimony,' on a preceding page,
described the condition of the slaves, and the effect upon the hearts
of slaveholders, (even the best,) caused by the exercise of unlimited
power over moral agents. Of the _particular acts_ which she has
stated, I have no personal knowledge, as they occurred before my
remembrance; but of the spirit that prompted them, and that constantly
displays itself in scenes of similar horror, the recollections of my
childhood, and the effaceless imprint upon my riper years, with the
breaking of my heart-strings, when, finding that I was powerless to
shield the victims, I tore myself from my home and friends, and became
an exile among strangers--all these throng around me as witnesses, and
their testimony is graven on my memory with a pen of fire.
Why I did not become totally hardened, under the daily operation of
this system, God only knows; in deep solemnity and gratitude, I say,
it was the _Lord's_ doing, and marvellous in mine eyes. Even before my
heart was touched with the love of Christ, I used to say, "Oh that I
had the wings of a dove, that I might flee away and be at rest;" for I
felt that there could be no rest for me in the midst of such outrages
and pollutions. And yet I saw _nothing_ of slavery in its most vulgar
and repulsive forms. I saw it in the city, among the fashionable and
the honorable, where it was garnished by refinement, and decked out
for show. A few _facts_ will unfold the state of society in the circle
with which I was familiar far better than any general assertions I can
I will first introduce the reader to a woman of the highest
respectability--one who was foremost in every benevolent enterprise,
and stood for many years, I may say, at the _head_ of the fashionable
Elite of the city of Charleston, and afterwards at the head of the
moral and religious female society there. It was after she had made a
profession of religion, and retired from the fashionable world, that I
knew her; therefore I will present her in her religious character.
This lady used to keep cowhides, or small paddles, (called 'pancake
sticks,') in four different apartments in her house; so that when she
wished to punish, or to have punished, any of her slaves, she might
not have the trouble of sending for an instrument of torture. For many
years, one or other, and _often_ more of her slaves, were flogged
_every day_; particularly the young slaves about the house, whose
faces were slapped, or their hands beat with the 'pancake stick; for
every trifling offence--and often for no fault at all. But the
floggings were not all; the scolding, and abuse daily heaped upon them
all, were worse: 'fools' and 'liars,' 'sluts' and 'husseys,'
'hypocrites' and 'good-for-nothing creatures'; were the common
epithets with which her mouth was filled, when addressing her slaves,
adults as well as children. Very often she would take a position at
her window, in an upper story, and scold at her slaves while working
in the garden, at some distance from the house, (a large yard
intervening,) and occasionally order a flogging. I have known her thus
on the watch, scolding for more than an hour at a time, in so loud a
voice that the whole neighborhood could hear her; and this without the
least apparent feeling of shame. Indeed, it was no disgrace among
slaveholders, and did not in the least injure her standing, either as
a lady or a Christian, in the aristocratic circle in which she moved.
After the 'revival' in Charleston, in 1825, she opened her house to
social prayer-meetings. The room in which they were held in the
evening, and where the voice of prayer was heard around the family
altar, and where she herself retired for private devotion thrice each
day, was the very place in which, when her slaves were to be whipped
with the cowhide, they were taken to receive the infliction; and the
wail of the sufferer would be heard, where, perhaps only a few hours
previous, rose the voices of prayer and praise. This mistress would
occasionally send her slaves, male and female, to the Charleston
work-house to be punished. One poor girl, whom she sent there to be
flogged, and who was accordingly stripped _naked_ and whipped, showed
me the deep gashes on her back--I might have laid my whole finger in
them--_large pieces of flesh had actually been cut out by the
torturing lash_. She sent another female slave there, to be imprisoned
and worked on the tread-mill. This girl was confined several days, and
forced to work the mill while in a state of suffering from another
cause. For ten days or two weeks after her return, she was lame, from
the violent exertion necessary to enable her to keep the step on the
machine. She spoke to me with intense feeling of this outrage upon
her, as a _woman_. Her men servants were sometimes flogged there; and
so exceedingly offensive has been the putrid flesh of their lacerated
backs, for days after the infliction, that they would be kept out of
the house--the smell arising from their wounds being too horrible to
be endured. They were always stiff and sore for some days, and not in
a condition to be seen by visitors.
This professedly Christian woman was a most awful illustration of the
ruinous influence of arbitrary power upon the temper--her bursts of
passion upon the heads of her victims were dreaded even by her own
children, and very often, all the pleasure of social intercourse
around the domestic board, was destroyed by her ordering the cook into
her presence, and storming at him, when the dinner or breakfast was
not prepared to her taste, and in the presence of all her children,
commanding the waiter to slap his face. _Fault-finding_, was with her
the constant accompaniment of every meal, and banished that peace
which should hover around the social board, and smile on every face.
It was common for her to order brothers to whip their own sisters, and
sisters their own brothers, and yet no woman visited among the poor
more than she did, or gave more liberally to relieve their wants.
This may seem perfectly unaccountable to a northerner, but these
seeming contradictions vanish when we consider that over _them_ she
possessed no arbitrary power, they were always presented to her mind
as unfortunate sufferers, towards whom her sympathies most freely
flowed; she was ever ready to wipe the tears from _their_ eyes, and
open wide her purse for _their_ relief, but the others were her
_vassals_, thrust down by public opinion beneath her feet, to be at
her beck and call, ever ready to serve in all humility, her, whom God
in his providence had set over them--it was their _duty_ to abide in
abject submission, and hers to _compel_ them to do so--_it was thus
that she reasoned_. Except at family prayers, none were permitted to
_sit_ in her presence, but the seamstresses and waiting maids, and
they, however delicate might be their circumstances, were forced to
sit upon low stools, without backs, that they might be constantly
reminded of their inferiority. A slave who waited in the house, was
guilty on a particular occasion of going to visit his wife, and kept
dinner waiting a little, (his wife was the slave of a lady who lived
at a little distance.) When the family sat down to the table, the
mistress began to scold the waiter for the offence--he attempted to
excuse himself--she ordered him to hold his tongue--he ventured
another apology; her son then rose from the table in a rage, and beat
the face and ears of the waiter so dreadfully that the blood gushed
from his mouth, and nose, and ears. This mistress was a _professor of
religion_; her daughter who related the circumstance, was a _fellow
member_ of the Presbyterian church _with the poor outraged
slave_--instead of feeling indignation at this outrageous abuse of her
brother in the church, she justified the deed, and said "he got just
what he deserved." I solemnly believe this to be a true picture of
The following is another illustration of it:
A mistress in Charleston sent a grey headed female slave to the
workhouse, and had her severely flogged. The poor old woman went to
an acquaintance of mine and begged her to buy her, and told her how
cruelly she had been whipped. My friend examined her _lacerated back_,
and out of compassion did purchase her. The circumstance was
mentioned to one of the former owner's relatives, who asked her if it
were true. The mistress told her it was, and said that she had made
the severe whipping of this aged woman a _subject of prayer_, and that
she believed she had done right to have it inflicted upon her. The
last 'owner' of the poor old slave, said she, had no fault to find
with her as a servant.
I remember very well that when I was a child, our next door neighbor
whipped a young woman so brutally, that in order to escape his blows
she rushed through the drawing-room window in the second story, and
fell upon the street pavement below and broke her hip. This
circumstance produced no excitement or inquiry.
The following circumstance occurred in Charleston, in 1828:
A slaveholder, after flogging a little girl about thirteen years old,
set her on a table with her feet fastened in a pair of stocks. He then
locked the door and took out the key. When the door was opened she
was found dead, having fallen from the table. When I asked a
prominent lawyer, who belonged to one of the first families in the
State, whether the murderer of this helpless child could not be
indicted, he coolly replied, that the slave was Mr. ----'s property,
and if he chose to suffer the _loss_, no one else had any thing to do
with it. The loss of _human life_, the distress of the parents and
other relatives of the little girl, seemed utterly out of his
thoughts: it was the loss of _property_ only that presented itself to
I knew a gentleman of great benevolence and generosity of character,
so essentially to injure the eye of a little boy, about ten years old,
as to destroy its sight, by the blow of a cowhide, inflicted whilst he
was whipping him. I have heard the same individual speak of
"breaking down the spirit of a slave under the lash" as perfectly
[Footnote 7: The Jewish law would have set this servant free, for his
eye's sake, but he was held in slavery and sold from hand to hand,
although, besides this title to his liberty according to Jewish law,
he was a _mulatto_, and therefore free under the Constitution of the
United States, in whose preamble our fathers declare that they
established it expressly to "secure the blessings of _liberty_ to
themselves and _their posterity_."--Ed.]
I also know that an aged slave of his, (by marriage,) was allowed to
get a scanty and precarious subsistence, by begging in the streets of
Charleston--he was too old to work, and therefore _his allowance was
stopped_, and he was turned out to make his living by begging.
When I was about thirteen years old, I attended a seminary, in
Charleston, which was superintended by a man and his wife of superior
education. They had under their instruction the daughters of nearly
all the aristocracy. Their cruelty to their slaves, both male and
female, I can never forget. I remember one day there was called into
the school room to open a window, a boy whose head had been shaved in
order to disgrace him, and he had been so dreadfully whipped that he
could hardly walk. So horrible was the impression produced upon my
mind by his heart-broken countenance and crippled person that I
fainted away. The sad and ghastly countenance of one of their female
mulatto slaves who used to sit on a low stool at her sewing in the
piazza, is now fresh before me. She often told me, secretly, how
cruelly she was whipped when they sent her to the work house. I had
known so much of the terrible scourgings inflicted in that house of
blood, that when I was once obliged to pass it, the very sight smote
me with such horror that my limbs could hardly sustain me. I felt as
if I was passing the precincts of hell. A friend of mine who lived in
the neighborhood, told me she often heard the screams of the slaves
under their torture.
I once heard a physician of a high family, and of great respectability
in his profession, say, that when he sent his slaves to the work-house
to be flogged, he always went to see it done, that he might be sure
they were properly, i.e. _severely_ whipped. He also related the
following circumstance in my presence. He had sent a youth of about
eighteen to this horrible place to be whipped and _afterwards_ to be
worked upon the treadmill. From not keeping the step, which probably
he COULD NOT do, in consequence of the lacerated state of his body;
his arm got terribly torn, from the shoulder to the wrist. This
physician said, he went every day to attend to it himself, in order
that he might use those restoratives, which _would inflict the
greatest possible pain_. This poor boy, after being imprisoned there
for some weeks, was then brought home, and compelled to wear iron
clogs on his ankles for one or two months. I saw him with those irons
on one day when I was at the house. This man was, when young,
remarkable in the fashionable world for his elegant and fascinating
manners, but the exercise of the slaveholder's power has thrown the
fierce air of tyranny even over these.
I heard another man of equally high standing say, that he believed he
suffered far more than his waiter did whenever he flogged him for he
felt the _exertion_ for days afterward, but he could not let his
servant go on in the neglect of his business, it was _his duty_ to
chastise him. "His duty" to flog this boy of seventeen so severely
that he felt _the exertion_ for days after! and yet he never felt it
to be his duty to instruct him, or have him instructed, even in the
common principles of morality. I heard the mother of this man say it
would be no surprise to her, if he killed a slave some day, for, that,
when transported with passion he did not seem to care what he did. He
once broke a _large_ stick over the back of a slave and at another
time the ivory butt-end of a long coach whip over the _head_ of
another. This last was attacked with epileptic fits some months after,
and has ever since been subject to them, and occasionally to violent
fits of insanity.
Southern mistresses sometimes flog their slaves themselves though
generally one slave is compelled to flog another. Whilst staying at a
friend's house some years ago, I one day saw the mistress with a
cow-hide in her hand, and heard her scolding in an under tone, her
waiting man, who was about twenty-five years old. Whether she actually
inflicted the blows I do not know, for I hastened out of sight and
hearing. It was not the first time I had seen a mistress thus engaged.
I knew she was a cruel mistress, and had heard her daughters
disputing, whether their mother did right or wrong, to send the slave
_children_, (whom she sent out to sweep chimneys) to the work house to
be whipped if they did not bring in their wages regularly. This woman
moved in the most fashionable circle in Charleston. The income of this
family was derived mostly from the hire of their slaves, about one
hundred in number. Their luxuries were blood-bought luxuries indeed.
And yet what stranger would ever have inferred their cruelties from
the courteous reception and bland manners of the parlor. Every thing
cruel and revolting is carefully concealed from strangers, especially
those from the north. Take an instance. I have known the master and
mistress of a family send to their friends to _borrow_ servants to
wait on company, because their own slaves had been so cruelly flogged
in the work house, that they could not walk without limping at every
step, and their putrified flesh emitted such an intolerable smell that
they were not fit to be in the presence of company. How can
northerners know these things when they are hospitably received at
southern tables and firesides? I repeat it, no one who has not been an
_integral part_ of a slaveholding community, can have any idea of its
abominations. It is a whited sepulchre full of dead men's bones and
all uncleanness. Blessed be God, the Angel of _Truth_ has descended
and rolled away the stone from the mouth of the sepulchre, and sits
upon it. The abominations so long hidden are now brought forth before
all Israel and the sun. Yes, the Angel of Truth _sits upon this
stone_, and it can never be rolled back again.
The utter disregard of the comfort of the slaves, in _little_ things,
can scarcely be conceived by those who have not been a _component
part_ of slaveholding communities. Take a few particulars out of
hundreds that might be named. In South Carolina musketoes swarm in
myriads, more than half the year--they are so excessively annoying at
night, that no family thinks of sleeping without nets or
"musketoe-bars" hung over their bedsteads, yet slaves are never
provided with them, unless it be the favorite old domestics who get
the cast-off pavilions; and yet these very masters and mistresses will
be so kind to their _horses_ as to provide them with _fly nets_.
Bedsteads and bedding too, are rarely provided for any of the
slaves--if the waiters and coachmen, waiting maids, cooks, washers,
&c., have beds at all, they must generally get them for themselves.
Commonly they lie down at night on the bare floor, with a small
blanket wrapped round them in winter, and in summer a coarse osnaburg
sheet, or nothing. Old slaves generally have beds, but it is because
when younger _they have provided them for themselves._
Only two meals a day are allowed the house slaves--the _first at
twelve o'clock_. If they eat before this time, it is by stealth, and I
am sure there must be a good deal of suffering among them from
_hunger_, and particularly by children. Besides this, they are often
kept from their meals by way of punishment. No table is provided for
them to eat from. They know nothing of the comfort and pleasure of
gathering round the social board--each takes his plate or tin pan and
iron spoon and holds it in the hand or on the lap. I _never_ saw
slaves seated round a _table_ to partake of any meal.
As the general rule, no lights of any kind, no firewood--no towels,
basins, or soap, no tables, chairs, or other furniture, are provided.
Wood for cooking and washing _for the family_ is found, but when the
master's work is done, the slave must find wood for himself if he has
a fire. I have repeatedly known slave children kept the whole winter's
evening, sitting on the stair-case in a cold entry, just to be at hand
to snuff candles or hand a tumbler of water from the side-board, or go
on errands from one room to another. It may be asked why they were not
permitted to stay in the parlor, when they would be still more at
hand. I answer, because waiters are not allowed to _sit_ in the
presence of their owners, and as children who were kept running all
day, would of course get very tired of standing for two or three
hours, they were allowed to go into the entry and sit on the staircase
until rung for. Another reason is, that even slaveholders at times
find the presence of slaves very annoying; they cannot exercise entire
freedom of speech before them on all subjects.
I have also known instances where seamstresses were kept in cold
entries to work by the stair case lamps for one or two hours, every
evening in winter--they could not see without standing up all the
time, though the work was often too large and heavy for them to sew
upon it in that position without great inconvenience, and yet they
were expected to do their work as _well_ with their cold fingers, and
standing up, as if they had been sitting by a comfortable fire and
provided with the necessary light. House slaves suffer a great deal
also from not being allowed to leave the house without permission. If
they wish to go even for a draught of water, they must _ask leave_,
and if they stay longer than the mistress thinks necessary, they are
liable to be punished, and often are scolded or slapped, or kept from
going down to the next meal.
It frequently happens that relatives, among slaves, are separated for
weeks or months, by the husband or brother being taken by the master
on a journey, to attend on his horses and himself.--When they return,
the white husband seeks the wife of his love; but the black husband
must wait to see _his_ wife, until mistress pleases to let her
chambermaid leave her room. Yes, such is the despotism of slavery,
that wives and sisters dare not run to meet their husbands and
brothers after such separations, and hours sometimes elapse before
they are allowed to meet; and, at times, a fiendish pleasure is taken
in keeping them asunder--this furnishes an opportunity to vent
feelings of spite for any little neglect of "duty."
The sufferings to which slaves are subjected by separations of various
kinds, cannot be imagined by those unacquainted with the working out
of the system behind the curtain. Take the following instances.
Chambermaids and seamstresses often sleep in their mistresses'
apartments, but with no bedding at all. I know an instance of a woman
who has been married eleven years, and yet has never been allowed to
sleep out of her mistress's chamber.--This is a _great_ hardship to
slaves. When we consider that house slaves are rarely allowed social
intercourse during _the day_, as their work generally _separates_
them; the barbarity of such an arrangement is obvious. It is
peculiarly a hardship in the above case, as the husband of the woman
does not "belong" to her "owner;" and because he is subject to
dreadful attacks of illness, and can have but little attention from
his wife in the _day_. And yet her mistress, who is an old lady, gives
her the highest character as a faithful servant, and told a friend of
mine, that she was "entirely dependent upon her for _all_ her
comforts; she dressed and undressed her, gave her all her food, and
was so _necessary_ to her that she could not do without her." I may
add, that this couple are tenderly attached to each other.
I also know an instance in which the husband was a slave and the wife
was free: during the illness of the former, the latter was _allowed_
to come and nurse him; she was obliged to leave the work by which she
had made a living, and come to stay with her husband, and thus lost
weeks of her time, or he would have suffered for want of proper
attention; and yet his "owner" made her no compensation for her
services. He had long been a faithful and a favorite slave, and his
owner was a woman very benevolent to the poor whites.--She went a
great deal among these, as a visiting commissioner of the Ladies'
Benevolent Society, and was in the constant habit of _paying the
relatives of the poor whites_ for nursing _their_ husbands, fathers,
and other relations; because she thought it very hard, when their time
was taken up, so that they could not earn their daily bread, that they
should be left to suffer. Now, such is the stupifying influence of the
"_chattel_ principle" on the minds of slaveholders, that I do not
suppose it ever occurred to her that this poor _colored_ wife ought to
be paid for her services, and particularly as she was spending her
time and strength in taking care of her "_property_." She no doubt
only thought how kind she was, to _allow_ her to come and stay so long
in her yard; for, let it be kept in mind, that slaveholders have
unlimited power to separate husbands and wives, parents and children,
however and whenever they please; and if this mistress had chosen to
do it, she could have debarred this woman from all intercourse with
her husband, by forbidding her to enter her premises.
Persons who own plantations and yet live in cities, often take
children from their parents as soon as they are weaned, and send them
into the country; because they do not want the time of the mother
taken up by attendance upon her own children, it being too valuable to
the mistress. As a _favor_, she is, in some cases, permitted to go to
see them once a year. So, on the other hand, if field slaves happen to
have children of an age suitable to the convenience of the master,
they are taken from their parents and brought to the city. Parents are
almost never consulted as to the disposition to be made of their
children; they have as little control over them, as have domestic
animals over the disposal of their young. Every natural and social
feeling and affection are violated with indifference; slaves are
treated as though they did not possess them.
Another way in which the feelings of slaves are trifled with and often
deeply wounded, is by changing their names; if, at the time they are
brought into a family, there is another slave of the same name; or if
the owner happens, for some other reason, not to like the name of the
new comer. I have known slaves very much grieved at having the names
of their children thus changed, when they had been called after a dear
relation. Indeed it would be utterly impossible to recount the
multitude of ways in which the _heart_ of the slave is continually
lacerated by the total disregard of his feelings as a social being and
a human creature.
The slave suffers also greatly from being continually watched. The
system of espionage which is constantly kept up over slaves is the
most worrying and intolerable that can be imagined. Many mistresses
are, in fact, during the absence of their husbands, really their
drivers; and the pleasure of returning to their families often, on the
part of the husband, is entirely destroyed by the complaints preferred
against the slaves when he comes home to his meals.
A mistress of my acquaintance asked her servant boy, one day, what was
the reason she could not get him to do his work whilst his master was
away, and said to him, "Your master works a great deal harder than you
do; he is at his office all day, and often has to study his law cases
at night." "Master," said the boy, "is working for himself, and for
you, ma'am, but I am working for _him_". The mistress turned and
remarked to a friend, that she was so struck with the truth of the
remark, that she could not say a word to him. But I forbear--the
sufferings of the slaves are not only innumerable, but they are
_indescribable_. I may paint the agony of kindred torn from each
other's arms, to meet no more in time; I may depict the inflictions of
the blood-stained lash, but I cannot describe the daily, hourly,
ceaseless torture, endured by the heart that is constantly trampled
under the foot of despotic power. This is a part of the horrors of
slavery which, I believe, no one has ever attempted to delineate; I
wonder not at it, it mocks all power of language. Who can describe the
anguish of that mind which feels itself impaled upon the iron of
arbitrary power--its living, writhing, helpless victim! every human
susceptibility tortured, its sympathies torn, and stung, and
bleeding--always feeling the death-weapon in its heart, and yet not so
deep as to _kill_ that humanity which is made the curse of Its
In the course of my testimony I have entered somewhat into the
_minutiae_ of slavery, because this is a part of the subject often
overlooked, and cannot be appreciated by any but those who have been
witnesses, and entered into sympathy with the slaves as human beings.
Slaveholders think nothing of them, because they regard their slaves
as _property_, the mere instruments of their convenience and pleasure.
_One who is a slaveholder at heart never recognises a human being in a
As thou hast asked me to testify respecting the _physical condition_
of the slaves merely, I say nothing of the awful neglect of their
_minds and souls_ and the systematic effort to imbrute them. A wrong
and an impiety, in comparison with which all the other unutterable
wrongs of slavery are but as the dust of the balance.
ANGELINA G. WELD.
TO THE CRUELTIES INFLICTED UPON SLAVES.
Before presenting to the reader particular details of the cruelties
inflicted upon American slaves, we will present in brief the
well-weighed declarations of slaveholders and other residents of slave
states, testifying that the slaves are treated with barbarous
inhumanity. All _details_ and particulars will be drawn out under
their appropriate heads. We propose in this place to present testimony
of a _general character_--the solemn declarations of slaveholders and
others, that the slaves are treated with great cruelty.
To discredit the testimony of witnesses who insist upon convicting
themselves, would be an anomalous scepticism.
To show that American slavery has _always_ had one uniform character
of diabolical cruelty, we will go back one hundred years, and prove it
by unimpeachable witnesses, who have given their deliberate testimony
to its horrid barbarity, from 1739 to 1839.
TESTIMONY OF REV. GEORGE WHITEFIELD.
In a letter written by him in Georgia, and addressed to the
slaveholders of Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina and
Georgia, in 1739.--See Benezet's "Caution to Great Britain and her
"As I lately passed through your provinces on my way hither, I was
sensibly touched with a fellow-feeling of the miseries of the poor
"Sure I am, it is sinful to use them as bad, nay worse than if they
were brutes; and whatever particular _exceptions_ there may be, (as I
would charitably hope there are _some_,) I fear the _generality_ of
you that own negroes _are liable to such a charge_. Not to mention
what numbers have been given up to the inhuman usage of cruel
_taskmasters_, who by their unrelenting scourges, have ploughed their
backs and made long furrows, and at length brought them to the grave!
"_The blood of them, spilt for these many years, in your respective
provinces, will ascend up to heaven against you!_" The following is
the testimony of the celebrated JOHN WOOLMAN, an eminent minister of
the Society of Friends, who traveled extensively in the slave state.
We copy it from a "Memoir of JOHN WOOLMAN, chiefly extracted from a
Journal of his Life and Travels." It was published in Philadelphia, by
the "Society of Friends."
"The following reflections, were written in 1757, while he was
traveling on a religious account among slaveholders."
"Many of the white people in these provinces, take little or no care