Part 9 out of 20
virtually do both; for they prohibit their slaves acquiring that
knowledge of letters which would enable them to read the laws; and if,
by stealth, they get it in spite of them, they prohibit them books and
papers, and flog them if they are caught at them. Further--Caligula
merely hung his laws so high that they could not be _read_--our
slaveholders have hung theirs so high above the slave that they cannot
be _seen_--they are utterly out of sight, and he finds out that they
are there only by the falling of the penalties on his head. Thus
the "public opinion" of slave states protects the defenceless slave by
arming a host of legal penalties and setting them in ambush at every
thicket along his path, to spring upon him unawares.
[Footnote 35: The following extract from the Alexandria (D.C.) Gazette
is all illustration. "CRIMINALS CONDEMNED.--On Monday last the Court
of the borough of Norfolk, Va. sat on the trial of four negro boys
arraigned for burglary. The first indictment charged them with
breaking into the hardware store of Mr. E.P. Tabb, upon which two of
them were found guilty by the Court, and condemned to suffer the
penalty of the law, which, in the case of a slave, is death. The
second Friday in April is appointed for the execution of their awful
sentence. _Their ages do not exceed sixteen_. The first, a fine active
boy, belongs to a widow lady in Alexandria; the latter, a house
servant, is owned by a gentleman in the borough. The value of one was
fixed at $1000, and the other at $800; which sums are to be
re-imbursed to their respective owners out of the state treasury." In
all probability these poor boys, who are to be hung for stealing,
never dreamed that death was the legal penalty of the crime.
Here is another, from the "New Orleans Bee" of ---- 14, 1837--"The
slave who STRUCK some citizens in Canal street, some weeks since, has
been tried and found guilty, and is sentenced to be HUNG on the 24th."]
Stroud, in his Sketch of the Laws of Slavery, page 100, thus comments
on this monstrous barbarity.
"The hardened convict moves their sympathy, and is to be taught the
laws before he is expected to obey them; yet the guiltless slave
is subjected to an extensive system of cruel enactments, of no part of
which, probably, has he ever heard."
[Footnote 36: "It shall be the duty of the keeper [of the penitentiary]
on the receipt of each prisoner, to _read_ to him or her such parts of
the penal laws of this state as impose penalties for escape, and to
make all the prisoners in the penitentiary acquainted with the same.
It shall also be his duty, on the discharge of such prisoner, to read
to him or her such parts of the laws as impose additional punishments
for the repetition of offences."--_Rule 12th_, for the internal
government of the Penitentiary of Georgia. Sec. 26 of the Penitentiary
Act of 1816.--Prince's Digest, 386.]
Having already drawn so largely on the reader's patience, in
illustrating southern 'public opinion' by the slave laws, instead of
additional illustrations of the same point from another class of those
laws, as was our design, we will group together a few particulars,
which the reader can take in at a glance, showing that the "public
opinion" of slaveholders towards their slaves, which exists at the
south, in the form of law, tramples on all those fundamental
principles of right, justice, and equity, which are recognized as
sacred by all civilized nations, and receive the homage even of
1. One of these principles is, that the _benefits_ of law to the
subject should overbalance its burdens--its protection more than
compensate for its restraints and exactions--and its blessings
altogether outweigh its inconveniences and evils--the former being
numerous, positive, and permanent, the latter few, negative, and
incidental. Totally the reverse of all this is true in the case of the
slave. Law is to him all exaction and no protection: instead of
lightening his _natural_ burdens, it crushes him under a multitude of
artificial ones; instead of a friend to succor him, it is his
deadliest foe, transfixing him at every step from the cradle to the
grave. Law has been beautifully defined to be "benevolence acting by
rule;" to the American slave it is malevolence torturing by system. It
is an old truth, that _responsibility_ increases with _capacity_; but
those same laws which make the slave a "_chattel_," require of him
_more_ than of _men_. The same law which makes him a _thing_ incapable
of obligation, loads him with obligations superhuman--while sinking
him below the level of a brute in dispensing its _benefits_, he lays
upon him burdens which would break down an angel.
2. _Innocence is entitled to the protection of law._ Slaveholders make
innocence free plunder; this is their daily employment; their laws
assail it, make it their victim, inflict upon it all, and, in some
respects, more than all the penalties of the greatest guilt. To other
innocent persons, law is a blessing, to the slave it is a curse, only
a curse and that continually.
3. _Deprivation of liberty is one of the highest punishments of
crime_; and in proportion to its justice when inflicted on the guilty,
is its injustice when inflicted on the innocent; this terrible penalty
is inflicted on two million seven hundred thousand, innocent persons
in the Southern states.
4. _Self-preservation and self-defence_, are universally regarded as
the most sacred of human rights, yet the laws of slave states punish
the slave with _death_ for exercising these rights in that way, which
in others is pronounced worthy of the highest praise.
5. _The safeguards of law are most needed where natural safe-guards
are weakest._ Every principle of justice and equity requires, that,
those who are totally unprotected by birth, station, wealth, friends,
influence, and popular favor, and especially those who are the
innocent objects of public contempt and prejudice, should be more
vigilantly protected by law, than those who are so fortified by
defence, that they have far less need of _legal_ protection; yet the
poor slave who is fortified by _none_ of these _personal_ bulwarks, is
denied the protection of law, while the master, surrounded by them
all, is panoplied in the mail of legal protection, even to the hair of
his head; yea, his very shoe-tie and coat-button are legal protegees.
6. The grand object of law is to _protect men's natural rights_, but
instead of protecting the natural rights of the slaves, it gives
slaveholders license to wrest them from the weak by violence, protects
them in holding their plunder, and _kills_ the rightful owner if he
attempt to recover it.
This is the _protection_ thrown around the rights of American slaves
by the 'public opinion,' of slaveholders; these the restraints that
hold back their masters, overseers, and drivers, from inflicting
injuries upon them!
In a Republican government, _law_ is the pulse of its _heart_--as the
heart beats the pulse beats, except that it often beats _weaker_ than
the heart, never stronger--or to drop the figure, laws are never
_worse_ than those who make them, very often better. If human history
proves anything, cruelty of practice will always go beyond cruelty of
Law-making is a formal, deliberate act, performed by persons of mature
age, embodying the intelligence, wisdom, justice and humanity, of the
community; performed, too, at leisure, after full opportunity had for
a comprehensive survey of all the relations to be affected, after
careful investigation and protracted discussion. Consequently laws
must, in the main, be a true index of the permanent feelings, the
settled _frame of mind_, cherished by the community upon those
subjects, and towards those persons and classes whose condition the
laws are designed to establish. If the laws are in a high degree cruel
and inhuman, towards any class of persons, it proves that the feelings
habitually exercised towards that class of persons, by those who make
and perpetuate those laws, are at least _equally_ cruel and inhuman.
We say _at least equally_ so; for if the _habitual_ state of feeling
towards that class be unmerciful, it must be unspeakably cruel,
relentless and malignant when _provoked_; if its _ordinary_ action is
inhuman, its contortions and spasms must be tragedies; if the waves
run high when there has been no wind, where will they not break when
the tempest heaves them!
Further, when cruelty is the _spirit_ of the law towards a proscribed
class, when it _legalizes great outrages_ upon them, it connives at,
and abets _greater_ outrages, and is virtually an accomplice of all
who perpetrate them. Hence, in such cases, though the _degree_ of the
outrage is illegal, the perpetrator will rarely be convicted, and,
even if convicted, will be almost sure to escape punishment. This is
not _theory_ but _history_. Every judge and lawyer in the slave states
_knows_, that the legal conviction and _punishment_ of masters and
mistresses, for illegal outrages upon their slaves, is an event which
has rarely, if ever, occurred in the slave states; they know, also,
that although _hundreds_ of slaves have been _murdered_ by their
masters and mistresses in the slave states, within the last
twenty-five years, and though the fact of their having committed those
murders has been established beyond a _doubt_ in the minds of the
surrounding community, yet that the murderers have not, in a single
instance, suffered the penalty of the law.
Finally, since slaveholders have deliberately legalized the
perpetration of the most cold-blooded atrocities upon their slaves,
and do pertinaciously refuse to make these atrocities _illegal_, and
to punish those who perpetrate them, they stand convicted before the
world, upon their own testimony, of the most barbarous, brutal, and
habitual inhumanity. If this be slander and falsehood, their own lips
have uttered it, their own fingers have written it, their own acts
have proclaimed it; and however it may be with their _morality_, they
have too much human nature to perjure themselves for the sake of
publishing their own infamy.
Having dwelt at such length on the legal code of the slave states,
that unerring index of the public opinion of slaveholders towards
their slaves; and having shown that it does not protect the slaves
from cruelty, and that even in the few instances in which the letter
of the law, if _executed_, would afford some protection, it is
virtually nullified by the connivance of courts and juries, or by
popular clamor; we might safely rest the case here, assured that every
honest reader would spurn the absurd falsehood, that the 'public
opinion' of the slave states protects the slaves and restrains the
master. But, as the assertion is made so often by slaveholders, and
with so much confidence, notwithstanding its absurdity is fully
revealed by their own legal code, we propose to show its falsehood by
applying other tests.
We lay it down as a truth that can be made no plainer by reasoning,
that the same 'public opinion,' which restrains men from _committing_
outrages, will restrain them from _publishing_ such outrages, if they
do commit them;--in other words, if a man is restrained from certain
acts through fear of losing his character, should they become known,
he will not voluntarily destroy his character by _making them known_,
should he be guilty of them. Let us look at this. It is assumed by
slaveholders, that 'public opinion' at the south so frowns on cruelty
to the slaves, that _fear of disgrace_ would restrain from the
infliction of it, were there no other consideration.
Now, that this is sheer fiction is shown by the fact, that the
newspapers in the slaveholding states, teem with advertisements for
runaway slaves, in which the masters and _mistresses_ describe their
men and women, as having been 'branded with a hot iron,' on their
'cheeks,' 'jaws,' 'breasts,' 'arms,' 'legs,' and 'thighs;' also as
'scarred,' 'very much scarred,' 'cut up,' 'marked,' &c. 'with the
whip,' also with 'iron collars on,' 'chains,' 'bars of iron,'
'fetters,' 'bells,' 'horns,' 'shackles,' &c. They, also, describe them
as having been wounded by 'buck-shot,' 'rifle-balls,' &c. fired at
them by their 'owners,' and others when in pursuit; also, as having
'notches,' cut in their ears, the tops or bottoms of their ears 'cut
off,' or 'slit,' or 'one ear cut off' or 'both ears cut off' &c. &c.
The masters and mistresses who thus advertise their runaway slaves,
coolly sign their names to their advertisements, giving the street and
number of their residences, if in cities, their post office address,
&c. if in the country; thus making public proclamation as widely as
possible that _they_ 'brand,' 'scar,' 'gash,' 'cut up,' &c. the flesh
of their slaves; load them with irons, cut off their ears, &c.; they
speak of these things with the utmost _sang froid_, not seeming to
think it possible, that any one will esteem them at all the less
because of these outrages upon their slaves; further, these
advertisements swarm in many of the largest and most widely circulated
political and commercial papers that are published in the slave
states. The editors of those papers constitute the main body of the
literati of the slave states; they move in the highest circle of
society, are among the 'popular' men in the community, and _as a
class_, are more influential than any other; yet these editors publish
these advertisements with iron indifference. So far from proclaiming
to such felons, homicides, and murderers, that they will not be their
blood-hounds, to hunt down the innocent and mutilated victims who have
escaped from their torture, they freely furnish them with every
facility, become their accomplices and share their spoils; and instead
of outraging 'public opinion,' by doing it, they are the men after its
own heart, its organs, its representatives, its _self_.
To show that the 'public opinion' of the slave states, towards the
slaves, is absolutely _diabolical_, we will insert a few, out of a
multitude, of similar advertisements from a variety of southern papers
now before us.
The North Carolina Standard, of July 18, 1838, contains the
"TWENTY DOLLARS REWARD. Ranaway from the subscriber, a negro woman and
two children; the woman is tall and black, and _a few days before she
went off_, I BURNT HER WITH A HOT IRON ON THE LEFT SIDE OF HER FACE; I
TRIED TO MAKE THE LETTER M, _and she kept a cloth over her head and
face, and a fly bonnet on her head so as to cover the burn;_ her
children are both boys, the oldest is in his seventh year; he is a
_mulatto_ and has blue eyes; the youngest is black and is in his fifth
year. The woman's name is Betty, commonly called Bet."
_Nash County, July 7_, 1838.
Hear the wretch tell his story, with as much indifference as if he
were describing the cutting of his initials in the bark of a tree.
_"I burnt her with a hot iron on the left side of her face,"--"I tried
to make the letter M_," and this he says in a newspaper, and puts his
name to it, and the editor of the paper who is, also, its proprietor,
publishes it for him and pockets his fee. Perhaps the reader will say,
'Oh, it must have been published in an insignificant sheet printed in
some obscure corner of the state; perhaps by a gang of 'squatters,' in
the Dismal Swamp, universally regarded as a pest, and edited by some
scape-gallows, who is detested by the whole community.' To this I reply
that the "North Carolina Standard," the paper which contains it, is a
large six columned weekly paper, handsomely printed and ably edited;
it is the leading Democratic paper in that state, and is published at
Raleigh, the Capital of the state, Thomas Loring, Esq. Editor and
Proprietor. The motto in capitals under the head of the paper is, "THE
CONSTITUTION AND THE UNION OF THE STATES--THEY MUST BE PRESERVED." The
same Editor and Proprietor, who exhibits such brutality of feeling
towards the slaves, by giving the preceding advertisement a
conspicuous place in his columns, and taking his pay for it, has
apparently a keen sense of the proprieties of life, where _whites_ are
concerned, and a high regard for the rights, character and feelings of
those whose skin is colored like his own. As proof of this, we copy
from the number of the paper containing the foregoing advertisement,
the following _Editorial_ on the pending political canvass.
"We cannot refrain from expressing the hope that the Gubernatorial
canvass will be conducted with a _due regard to the character_, and
_feelings_ of the distinguished individuals who are candidates for
that office; and that the press of North Carolina will _set an
example_ in this respect, worthy of _imitation and of praise_."
What is this but chivalrous and honorable feeling? The good name of
North Carolina is dear to him--on the comfort, 'character and
feelings,' of her _white_ citizens he sets a high value; he feels too,
most deeply for the _character of the Press_ of North Carolina, sees
that it is a city set on a hill, and implores his brethren of the
editorial corps to 'set an example' of courtesy and magnanimity worthy
of imitation and praise. Now, reader, put all these things together
and con them over, and then read again the preceding advertisement
contained in the same number of the paper, and you have the true
"North Carolina STANDARD," by which to measure the protection extended
to slaves by the 'public opinion' of that state.
J.P. Ashford advertises as follows in the "Natchez Courier," August
"Ranaway, a negro girl called Mary, has a small scar over her eye, a
_good many teeth missing_, the letter A. _is branded on her cheek and
A.B. Metcalf thus advertises a woman in the same paper, June 15,
"Ranaway, Mary, a black woman, has a _scar_ on her back and right arm
near the shoulder, _caused by a rifle ball_."
John Henderson, in the "Grand Gulf Advertiser," August 29, 1838,
"Ranaway, a black woman Betsey, has an _iron bar on her right leg_."
Robert Nicoll, whose residence is in Mobile, in Dauphin street,
between Emmanuel and Conception streets, thus advertises a woman in
the "Mobile Commercial Advertiser."
"TEN DOLLARS REWARD will be given for my negro woman Liby. The said
Liby is about 30 years old and VERY MUCH SCARRED ABOUT THE NECK AND
EARS, occasioned by whipping, had on a handkerchief tied round her
ears, as she COMMONLY wears it to HIDE THE SCARS."
To show that slaveholding brutality now is the same that it was the
eighth of a century ago, we publish the following advertisement from
the "Charleston (S.C.) Courier," of 1825.
"TWENTY DOLLARS REWARD.--Ranaway from the subscriber, on the 14th
instant, a negro girl named Molly.
"The said girl was sold by Messrs. Wm. Payne & Sons, as the property
of an estate of a Mr. Gearrall, and purchased by a Mr. Moses, and sold
by him to a Thomas Prisley, of Edgefield District, of whom I bought
her on the 17th of April, 1819. She is 16 or 17 years of age, slim
made, LATELY BRANDED ON THE LEFT CHEEK, THUS, R, AND A PIECE TAKEN OFF
OF HER EAR ON THE SAME SIDE; THE SAME LETTER ON THE INSIDE OF BOTH HER
"ABNER ROSS, Fairfield District."
But instead of filling pages with similar advertisements, illustrating
the horrible brutality of slaveholders towards their slaves, the
reader is referred to the preceding pages of this work, to the scores
of advertisements written by slaveholders, printed by slaveholders,
published by slaveholders, in newspapers edited by slaveholders and
patronized by slaveholders; advertisement describing not only men and
boys, but women aged and middle-aged, matrons and girls of tender
years, their necks chafed with iron collars with prongs, their limbs
galled with iron rings and chains, and bars of iron, iron hobbles and
shackles, all parts of their persons scarred with the lash, and
branded with hot irons, and torn with rifle bullets, pistol balls and
buck shot, and gashed with knives, their eyes out, their ears cut off,
their teeth drawn out, and their bones broken. He is referred also to
the cool and shocking indifference with which these slaveholders,
'gentlemen' and 'ladies,' Reverends, and Honorables, and Excellencies,
write and print, and publish and pay, and take money for, and read and
circulate, and sanction, such infernal barbarity. Let the reader
ponder all this, and then lay it to heart, that this is that 'public
opinion' of the slaveholders which protects their slaves from all
injury, and is an effectual guarantee of personal security.
However far gone a community may be in brutality, something of
protection may yet be hoped for from its 'public opinion,' if _respect
for woman_ survive the general wreck; that gone, protection perishes;
public opinion becomes universal rapine; outrages, once occasional,
become habitual; the torture, which was before inflicted only by
passion, becomes the constant product of a _system_, and, instead of
being the index of sudden and fierce impulses, is coolly plied as the
permanent means to an end. When _women_ are branded with hot irons on
their faces; when iron collars, with prongs, are riveted about their
necks; when iron rings are fastened upon their limbs, and they are
forced to drag after them chains and fetters; when their flesh is torn
with whips, and mangled with bullets and shot, and lacerated with
knives; and when those who do such things, are regarded in the
community, and associated with as 'gentlemen' and 'ladies;' to say
that the 'public opinion' of _such_ a community is a protection to its
victims, is to blaspheme God, whose creatures they are, cast in his
own sacred image, and dear to him as the apple of his eye.
But we are not yet quite ready to dismiss this protector, 'Public
Opinion.' To illustrate the hardened brutality with which slaveholders
regard their slaves, the shameless and apparently unconscious
indecency with which they speak of their female slaves, examine their
persons, and describe them, under their own signatures, in newspapers,
hand-bills, &c. just as they would describe the marks of cattle and
swine, on all parts of their bodies; we will make a few extracts from
southern papers. Reader, as we proceed to these extracts, remember our
motto--'True humanity consists _not_ in a squeamish ear.'
Mr. P. ABDIE, of New Orleans, advertises in the New Orleans Bee, of
January 29, 1838, for one of his female slaves, as follows;
"Ranaway, the negro wench named Betsey, aged about 22 years,
handsome-faced, and good countenance; having the marks of the whip
behind her neck, and SEVERAL OTHERS ON HER RUMP. The above reward,
($10,) will be given to whoever will bring that wench to P. ABDIE."
The New Orleans Bee, in which the advertisement of this Vandal
appears, is the 'Official Gazette of the State--of the General
Council--and of the first and third Municipalities of New Orleans.' It
is the largest, and the most influential paper in the south-western
states, and perhaps the most ably edited--and has undoubtedly a larger
circulation than any other. It is a daily paper, of $12 a year, and
its circulation being mainly among the larger merchants, planters, and
professional men, it is a fair index of the 'public opinion' of
Louisiana, so far as represented by those classes of persons.
Advertisements equally gross, indecent, and abominable, or nearly so,
can be found in almost every number of that paper.
Mr. WILLIAM ROBINSON, Georgetown, District of Columbia, advertised for
his slave in the National Intelligencer, of Washington City, Oct. 2,
1837, as follows:
"Eloped from my residence a young negress, 22 years old, of a
chestnut, or brown color. She has a very singular mark--this mark, to
the best of my RECOLLECTION, covers a part of her _breasts_, _body_,
and _limbs_; and when her neck and arms are uncovered, is very
perceptible; she has been frequently seen east and south of the
Capitol Square, and is harbored by ill-disposed persons, of every
complexion, for her services."
Mr. JOHN C. BEASLEY, near Huntsville, Alabama, thus advertises a young
girl of eighteen, in the Huntsville Democrat, of August 1st, 1837.
"Ranaway Maria, about 18 years old, _very far advanced with child._"
He then offers a reward to any one who will commit this young girl, in
this condition, _to jail_.
Mr. JAMES T. DE JARNETT, Vernon, Autauga co. Alabama, thus advertises
a woman in the Pensacola Gazette, July 14, 1838. "Celia is a _bright_
copper-colored negress, _fine figure_ and _very smart_. On EXAMINING
HER BACK, you will find marks caused by the whip." He closes the
advertisement, by offering a reward of _five hundred dollars_ to any
person who will lodge her in _jail_, so that he can get her.
A person who lives at 124 Chartres street, New Orleans, advertises in
the 'Bee,' of May 31, for "the negress Patience, about 28 years old,
has _large hips_, and is _bow-legged_." A Mr. T. CUGGY, in the same
paper, thus describes "the negress Caroline." "_She has awkward feet,
clumsy ankles, turns out her toes greatly in walking, and has a sore
on her left shin_."
In another, of June 22, Mr. P. BAHI advertises "Maria, with a clear
white complexion, and _double nipple on her right breast_."
Mr. CHARLES CRAIGE, of Federal Point, New Hanover co. North Carolina,
in the Wilmington Advertiser, August 11, 1837, offers a reward for his
slave Jane, and says "_she is far advanced in pregnancy_."
The New Orleans Bulletin, August 18, 1838, advertises "the negress
Mary, aged nineteen, has a scar on her face, walks parrot-toed, and is
Mr. J.G. MUIR, of Grand Gulf, Mississippi, thus advertises a woman in
the Vicksburg Register, December 5, 1838. "Ranaway a negro girl--has a
number of _black lumps on her breasts, and is in a state of
Mr. JACOB BESSON, Donaldsonville, Louisiana, advertises in the New
Orleans Bee, August 7, 1838, "the negro woman Victorine--she is
_advanced in pregnancy_."
Mr. J.H. LEVERICH & Co. No. 10, Old Levee, New Orleans, advertises in
the 'Bulletin,' January 22, 1839, as follows.
"$50 REWARD.--Ranaway a negro girl named Caroline about 18 years of
age, is _far advanced in child-bearing_. The above reward will be paid
for her delivery at either of the _jails_ of the city."
Mr. JOHN DUGGAN, thus advertises a woman in the New Orleans Bee, of
"Ranaway from the subscriber a mulatto woman, named Esther, about
thirty years of age, _large stomach_, wants her upper front teeth, and
walks pigeon-toed--supposed to be about the lower fauxbourg."
Mr. FRANCIS FOSTER, of Troop co. Georgia, advertises in the Columbus
(Ga.) Enquirer of June 22, 1837--"My negro woman Patsey, has a stoop
in her walking, occasioned by a _severe burn on her abdomen_."
The above are a few specimens of the gross details, in describing the
persons of females, of all ages, and the marks upon all parts of their
bodies; proving incontestably, that slaveholders are in the habit not
only of stripping their female slaves of their clothing, and
inflicting punishment upon their 'shrinking flesh,' but of subjecting
their naked persons to the most minute and revolting inspection, and
then of publishing to the world the results of their examination, as
well as the scars left by their own inflictions upon them, their
length, size, and exact position on the body; and all this without
impairing in the least, the standing in the community of the shameless
wretches who thus proclaim their own abominations. That such things
should not at all affect the standing of such persons in society, is
certainly no marvel: how could they affect it, when the same
communities enact laws _requiring_ their own legal officers to inspect
minutely the persons and bodily marks of all slaves taken up as
runaways, and to publish in the newspapers a particular description of
all such marks and peculiarities of their persons, their size,
appearance position on the body, &c. Yea, verily, when the 'public
opinion' of the community, in the solemn form of law, commands
jailors, sheriffs, captains of police, &c. to divest of their clothing
aged matrons and young girls, minutely examine their naked persons,
and publish the results of their examination--who can marvel, that the
same 'public opinion' should tolerate the slaveholders themselves, in
doing the same things to their own property, which they have appointed
legal officers to do as their proxies.
[Footnote 37: 'As a sample of these laws, we give the following extract
from one of the laws of Maryland, where slaveholding 'public opinion'
exists in its mildest form.'
"It shall be the duty of the sheriffs of the several counties of this
state, upon any runaway servant or slave being committed to his
custody, to cause the same to be advertised, &c. and to make
particular and minute descriptions of _the person and bodily marks_,
of such runaway."--_Laws of Maryland of 1802_, Chap. 96, Sec. 1 and 2.
That the sheriffs, jailors, &c. do not neglect this part of their
official 'duty,' is plain from the minute description which they give
in the advertisements of marks upon all parts of the persons of
females, as well as males; and also from the occasional declaration,
'no scars discoverable on any part,' or 'no marks discoverable _about_
her;' which last is taken from an advertisement in the Milledgeville
(Geo.) Journal, June 26, 1838, signed 'T.S. Denster, Jailor.']
The zeal with which slaveholding '_public opinion_' protects the lives
of the slaves, may be illustrated by the following advertisements,
taken from a multitude of similar ones in southern papers. To show
that slaveholding 'public opinion' is the same _now_, that it was half
a century ago, we will insert, in the first place, an advertisement
published in a North Carolina newspaper, Oct. 29, 1785, by W. SKINNER,
the Clerk of the County of Perquimons, North Carolina.
"Ten silver dollars reward will be paid for apprehending and
delivering to me my man Moses, who ran away this morning; or I will
give five times the sum to any person who will make due proof of his
_being killed_, and never ask a question to know by whom it was done."
_Perquimons County, N.C. Oct. 29, 1785._
The late JOHN PARRISH, of Philadelphia, an eminent minister of the
religious society of Friends, who traveled through the slave states
about _thirty-five years_ since, on a religious mission, published on
his return a pamphlet of forty pages, entitled 'Remarks on the Slavery
of the Black People.' From this work we extract the following
illustrations of 'public opinion' in North and South Carolina and
Virginia at that period.
"When I was traveling through North Carolina, a black man, who was
outlawed, being shot by one of his pursuers, and left wounded in the
woods, they came to an ordinary where I had stopped to feed my horse,
in order to procure a cart to bring the poor wretched object in.
Another, I was credibly informed, was shot, his head cut off, and
carried in a bag by the perpetrators of the murder, who received the
reward, which was said to be $200, continental currency, and that his
head was stuck on a coal house at an iron works in Virginia--and this
for going to visit his wife at a distance. Crawford gives an account
of a man being gibbetted alive in South Carolina, and the buzzards
came and picked out his eyes. Another was burnt to death at a stake in
Charleston, surrounded by a multitude of spectators, some of whom were
people of the _first rank_; ... the poor object was heard to cry, as
long as he could breathe, 'not guilty--not guilty.'"
The following is an illustration of the 'public opinion' of South
Carolina about fifty years ago. It is taken from Judge Stroud's Sketch
of the Slave Laws, page 39.
"I find in the case of 'the State vs. M'Gee,' I Bay's Reports, 164, it
is said incidentally by Messrs. Pinckney and Ford, counsel for the
state (of S.C.), 'that the _frequency_ of the offence (_wilful_ murder
of a slave) was owing to the _nature of the punishment_', &c.... This
remark was made in 1791, when the above trial took place. It was made
in a public place--a courthouse--and by men of great personal
respectability. There can be, therefore, no question as to its
_truth_, and as little of its _notoriety_."
In 1791 the Grand Jury for the district of Cheraw, S.C. made a
_presentment_, from which the following is an extract.
"We, the Grand Jurors of and for the district of Cheraw, do present
the INEFFICACY of the present punishment for killing negroes, as a
great defect in the legal system of this state: and we do earnestly
recommend to the attention of the legislature, that clause of the
negro act, which confines the penalty for killing slaves to fine and
imprisonment only: in full confidence, that they will provide some
other _more effectual_ measures to prevent the FREQUENCY of crimes of
this nature."--_Matthew Carey's American Museum, for Feb.
1791_.--Appendix, p. 10.
The following is a specimen of the 'public opinion' of Georgia twelve
years since. We give it in the strong words of COLONEL STONE, Editor
of the New York Commercial Advertiser. We take it from that paper of
June 8, 1827.
"HUNTING MEN WITH DOGS.-A negro who had absconded from his master, and
for whom a reward of $100 was offered, has been apprehended and
committed to prison in Savannah. The editor, who states the fact,
adds, with as much coolness as though there were no barbarity in the
matter, that he did not surrender till _he was considerably_ MAIMED BY
THE DOGS that had been set on him--desperately fighting them--one of
which he badly cut with a sword."
Twelve days after the publication of the preceding fact, the following
horrible transaction took place in Perry county, Alabama. We extract
it from the African Observer, a monthly periodical, published in
Philadelphia, by the society of Friends. See No. for August, 1827.
"Tuscaloosa, Ala. June 20, 1827.
"Some time during the last week a Mr. M'Neilly having lost some
clothing, or other property of no great value, the slave of a
neighboring planter was charged with the theft. M'Neilly, in company
with his brother, found the negro driving his master's wagon; they
seized him, and either did, or were about to chastise him, when the
negro stabbed M'Neilly, so that he died in an hour afterwards. The
negro was taken before a justice of the peace, who _waved his
authority_, perhaps through fear, as a crowd of persons had collected
to the number of seventy or eighty, near Mr. People's (the justice)
house. _He acted as president of the mob,_ and put the vote, when it
was decided he should be immediately executed by _being burnt to
death_. The sable culprit was led to a tree, and tied to it, and a
large quantity of pine knots collected and placed around him, and the
fatal torch applied to the pile, even against the remonstrances of
several gentlemen who were present; and the miserable being was in a
short time burned to ashes.
"This is the SECOND negro who has been THUS put to death, without
judge or jury, in this county."
The following advertisements, testimony, &c. will show that the
slaveholders of _to-day_ are the _children_ of those who shot, and
hunted with bloodhounds, and burned over slow fires, the slaves of
half a century ago; the worthy inheritors of their civilization,
chivalry, and tender mercies.
The "Wilmington (North Carolina) Advertiser" of July 13, 1838,
contains the following advertisement.
"$100 will be paid to any person who may apprehend and safely confine
in any jail in this state, a certain negro man, named ALFRED. And the
same reward will be paid, if satisfactory evidence is given of _having
been_ KILLED. He has one or more scars on one of his hands, caused by
his having been shot.
"THE CITIZENS OF ONSLOW.
"Richlands, Onslow co. May 16th, 1838."
In the same column with the above and directly under it is the
"RANAWAY my negro man RICHARD. A reward of $25 will be paid for his
apprehension DEAD or ALIVE. Satisfactory proof will only be required
of his being KILLED. He has with him, in all probability, his wife
ELIZA, who ran away from Col. Thompson, now a resident of Alabama,
about the time he commenced his journey to that state. DURANT H.
In the "Mason (Georgia) Telegraph," May 28, is the following:
"About the 1st of March last the negro man RANSOM left me without the
least provocation whatever; I will give a reward of twenty dollars for
said negro, if taken DEAD OR ALIVE,--and if killed in any attempt, an
advance of five dollars will be paid. BRYANT JOHNSON.
"_Crawford co. Georgia_"
See the "Newbern (N.C.) Spectator," Jan. 5, 1838, for the
"RANAWAY, from the subscriber, a negro man named SAMPSON. Fifty
dollars reward will be given for the delivery of him to me, or his
confinement in any jail so that I get him, and should he resist in
being taken, so that violence is necessary to arrest him, I will not
hold any person liable for damages should the slave be KILLED. ENOCH
"Jones County, N.C."
From the "Macon (Ga.) Messenger," June 14, 1838.
"TO THE OWNERS OF RUNAWAY NEGROES. A large mulatto Negro man, between
thirty-five and forty years old, about six feet in height, having a
high forehead, and hair slightly grey, was KILLED, near my plantation,
on the 9th inst. _He would not surrender_ but assaulted Mr. Bowen, who
killed him in self-defence. If the owner desires further information
relative to the death of his negro, he can obtain it by letter, or by
calling on the subscriber ten miles south of Perry, Houston county.
EDM'D. JAS. McGEHEE."
From the 'Charleston (S.C.) Courier,' Feb. 20, 1836.
"$300 REWARD. Ranaway from the subscriber, in November last, his two
negro men, named Billy and Pompey.
"Billy is 25 years old, and is known as the patroon of my boat for
many years; in all probability he may resist; in that event 50 dollars
will be paid for his HEAD."
From the 'Newbern (N.C.) Spectator,' Dec 2. 1836.
"$200 REWARD. Ranaway from the subscriber, about three years ago, a
certain negro man named Ben, commonly known by the name of Ben Fox. He
had but one eye. Also, one other negro, by the name of Rigdon, who
ranaway on the 8th of this month.
"I will give the reward of one hundred dollars for each of the above
negroes, to be delivered to me or confined in the jail of Lenoir or
Jones county, or FOR THE KILLING OF THEM, SO THAT I CAN SEE THEM. W.D.
In the same number of the Spectator two Justices of the Peace
advertise the same runaways, and give notice that if they do not
immediately return to W.D. Cobb, their master, they will be considered
as outlaws, and any body may kill them. The following is an extract
from the proclamation of the JUSTICES.
"And we do hereby, by virtue of an act of the assembly of this state,
concerning servants and slaves, intimate and declare, if the said
slaves do not surrender themselves and return home to their master
immediately after the publication of these presents, _that any person
may kill and destroy said slaves by such means as he or they think
fit, without accusation or impeachment of any crime or offence for so
doing, or without incurring any penalty or forfeiture thereby._
"Given under our hands and seals, this 12th November, 1836.
"B. COLEMAN, J.P. [Seal.]
"JAS. JONES, J.P. [Seal.]"
On the 28th, of April 1836, in the city of St Louis, Missouri, a black
man, named McIntosh who had stabbed an officer, that had arrested him,
was seized by the multitude, fastened to a tree _in the midst of the
city_, wood piled around him, and in open day and in the presence of
an immense throng of citizens, he was burned to death. The Alton
(Ill.) Telegraph, in its account of the scene says;
"All was silent as death while the executioners were piling wood
around their victim. He said not a word, until feeling that the flames
had seized upon him. He then uttered an awful howl, attempting to sing
and pray, then hung his head, and suffered in silence, except in the
following instance:--After the flames had surrounded their prey, his
eyes burnt out of his head, and his mouth seemingly parched to a
cinder, some one in the crowd, more compassionate than the rest,
proposed to put an end to his misery by shooting him, when it was
replied, 'that would be of no use, since he was already out of pain.'
'No, no,' said the wretch, 'I am not, I am suffering as much as ever;
shoot me, shoot me.' 'No, no,' said one of the fiends who was standing
about the sacrifice they were roasting, 'he shall not be shot. _I
would sooner slacken the fire, if that would increase his misery_;'
and the man who said this was, as we understand, an OFFICER OF
The St. Louis correspondent of a New York paper adds,
"The shrieks and groans of the victim were loud and piercing, and to
observe one limb after another drop into the fire was awful indeed. He
was about fifteen minutes in dying. I visited the place this morning,
and saw his body, or the remains of it, at the place of execution. He
was burnt to a crump. His legs and arms were gone, and only a part of
his head and body were left."
Lest this demonstration of 'public opinion' should be regarded as a
sudden impulse merely, not an index of the settled tone of feeling in
that community, it is important to add, that the Hon. Luke E. Lawless,
Judge of the Circuit Court of Missouri, at a session of that Court in
the city of St. Louis, some months after the burning of this man,
decided officially that since the burning of McIntosh was the act,
either directly or by countenance of a _majority_ of the citizens, it
is 'a case which transcends the jurisdiction,' of the Grand Jury! Thus
the state of Missouri has proclaimed to the world, that the wretches
who perpetrated that unspeakably diabolical murder, and the thousands
that stood by consenting to it, were _her representatives_, and the
Bench sanctifies it with the solemnity of a judicial decision.
The 'New Orleans Post,' of June 7, 1836, publishes the following;
"We understand, that a negro man was lately condemned, by the mob, to
be BURNED OVER A SLOW FIRE, which was put into execution at Grand
Gulf, Mississippi, for murdering a black woman, and her master."
Mr. HENRY BRADLEY, of Pennyan, N.Y., has furnished us with an extract
of a letter written by a gentleman in Mississippi to his brother in
that village, detailing the particulars of the preceding transaction.
The letter is dated Grand Gulf, Miss. August 15, 1836. The extract is
"I left Vicksburg and came to Grand Gulf. This is a fine place
immediately on the banks of the Mississippi, of something like fifteen
hundred inhabitants in the winter, and at this time, I suppose, there
are not over two hundred white inhabitants, but in the town and its
vicinity there are negroes by thousands. The day I arrived at this
place there was a man by the name of G---- murdered by a negro man
that belonged to him. G---- was born and brought up in A----, state of
New York. His father and mother now live south of A----. He has left a
property here, it is supposed, of forty thousand dollars, and no
"They took the negro, mounted him on a horse, led the horse under a
tree, put a rope around his neck, raised him up by throwing the rope
over a limb; they then got into a quarrel among themselves; some swore
that he should be burnt alive; the rope was cut and the negro dropped
to the ground. He immediately jumped to his feet; they then made him
walk a short distance to a tree; he was then tied fast and a fire
kindled, when another quarrel took place; the fire was pulled away
from him when about half dead, and a committee of twelve appointed to
say in what manner he should be disposed of. They brought in that he
should then be cut down, his head cut off, his body burned, and his
head stuck on a pole at the corner of the road in the edge of the
town. That was done and all parties satisfied!
"G---- _owned the negro's wife, and was in the habit of sleeping with
her!_ The negro said he had killed him, and he believed he should be
rewarded in heaven for it.
"This is but one instance among many of a similar nature.
We have received a more detailed account of this transaction from Mr.
William Armstrong, of Putnam, Ohio, through Maj. Horace Nye, of that
place. Mr. A. who has been for some years employed as captain and
supercargo of boats descending the river, was at Grand Gulf at the
time of the tragedy, and _witnessed_ it. It was on the Sabbath.
From Mr. Armstrong's statement, it appears that the slave was
a man of uncommon intelligence; had the over-sight of a large
business--superintended the purchase of supplies for his master,
&c.--that exasperated by the intercourse of his master with his wife,
he was upbraiding her one evening, when his master overhearing him,
went out to quell him, was attacked by the infuriated man and killed
on the spot. The name of the master was Green; he was a native of
Auburn, New York, and had been at the south but a few years.
Mr. EZEKIEL BIRDSEYE, of Cornwall, Conn., a gentleman well known and
highly respected in Litchfield county, who resided a number of years
in South Carolina, gives the following testimony:--
"A man by the name of Waters was killed by his slaves, in Newberry
District. Three of them were tried before the court, and ordered to be
burnt. I was but a few miles distant at the time, and conversed with
those who saw the execution. The slaves were tied to a stake, and
pitch pine wood piled around them, to which the fire was communicated.
Thousands were collected to witness this barbarous transaction. _Other
executions of this kind took place in various parts of the state,
during my residence in it, from 1818 to 1824_. About three or four
years ago, a young negro was burnt in Abbeville District, for an
attempt at rape."
In the fall of 1837, there was a rumor of a projected insurrection on
the Red River, in Louisiana. The citizens forthwith seized and hanged
NINE SLAVES, AND THREE FREE COLORED MEN, WITHOUT TRIAL. A few months
previous to that transaction, a slave was seized in a similar manner
and publicly burned to death, in Arkansas. In July, 1835, the citizens
of Madison county, Mississippi, were alarmed by rumors of an
insurrection arrested five slaves and publicly executed them without
The Missouri Republican, April 30, 1838, gives the particulars of the
deliberate murder of a negro man named Tom, a cook on board the
steamboat Pawnee, on her passage up from New Orleans to St. Louis.
Some of the facts stated by the Republican are the following:
"On Friday night, about 10 o'clock, a deaf and dumb German girl was
found in the storeroom with Tom. The door was locked, and at first Tom
denied she was there. The girl's father came. Tom unlocked the door,
and the girl was found secreted in the room behind a barrel. The next
morning some four or five of the deck passengers spoke to the captain
about it. This was about breakfast time. Immediately after he left the
deck, a number of the deck passengers rushed upon the negro, bound his
arms behind his back and carried him forward to the bow of the boat. A
voice cried out 'throw him overboard,' and was responded to from every
quarter of the deck--and in an instant he was plunged into the river.
The whole scene of tying him and throwing him overboard scarcely
occupied _ten minutes_, and was so precipitate that the officers were
unable to interfere in time to save him.
"There were between two hundred and fifty and three hundred passengers
The whole process of seizing Tom, dragging him upon deck, binding his
arms behind his back, forcing him to the bow of the boat, and throwing
him overboard, occupied, the editor informs us, about TEN MINUTES, and
of the two hundred and fifty or three hundred deck passengers, with
perhaps as many cabin passengers, it does not appear that _a single
individual raised a finger to prevent this deliberate murder_; and the
cry "throw him overboard," was it seems, "responded to from every
quarter of the deck!"
Rev. JAMES A. THOME, of Augusta, Ky., son of Arthur Thome, Esq., till
recently a slaveholder, published five years since the following
description of a scene witnessed by him in New Orleans:
"In December of 1833, I landed at New Orleans, in the steamer W----.
It was after night, dark and rainy. The passengers were called out of
the cabin, from the enjoyment of a fire, which the cold, damp
atmosphere rendered very comfortable, by a sudden shout of, 'catch
him--catch him--catch the negro.' The cry was answered by a hundred
voices--'Catch him--_kill_ him,' and a rush from every direction
toward our boat, indicated that the object of pursuit was near. The
next moment we heard a man plunge into the river, a few paces above
us. A crowd gathered upon the shore, with lamps and stones, and clubs,
still crying, 'catch him--kill him--catch him--shoot him.'
"I soon discovered the poor man. He had taken refuge under the prow of
another boat, and was standing in the water up to his waist. The
angry vociferation of his pursuers, did not intimidate him. He defied
them all. 'Don't you _dare_ to come near me, or I will sink you in the
river.' He was armed with despair. For a moment the mob was palsied by
the energy of his threatenings. They were afraid to go to him with a
skiff, but a number of them went on to the boat and tried to seize
him. They threw a noose rope down repeatedly, _that they might pull
him up by the neck_! but he planted his hand firmly against the boat
and dashed the rope away with his arms. One of them took a long bar of
wood, and leaning over the prow, endeavored to strike him on the head,
The blow must have shattered the skull, but it did not reach low
enough. The monster raised up the heavy club again and said, 'Come out
now, you old rascal, or die.' 'Strike,' said the negro;
'strike--shiver my brains _now_; I want to die;' and down went the
club again, without striking. This was repeated several times. The
mob, seeing their efforts fruitless, became more enraged and
threatened to stone him, if he did not surrender himself into their
hands. He again defied them, and declared that he would drown himself
in the river, before they should have him. They then resorted to
persuasion, and promised they would not hurt him. 'I'll die first;'
was his only reply. Even the furious mob was awed, and for a while
"After standing in the cold water for an hour, the miserable being
began to fail. We observed him gradually sinking--his voice grew weak
and tremulous--yet he continued to _curse_! In the midst of his oaths
he uttered broken sentences--'I did'nt steal the meat--I did'nt
steal--my master lives--master--master lives up the river--(his voice
began to gurgle in his throat, and he was so chilled that his teeth
chattered audibly)--I did'nt--steal--I did'nt steal--my--my
master--my--I want to see my master--I didn't--no--my mas--you
want--you want to kill me--I didn't steal the'--His last words could
just be heard as be sunk under the water.
"During this indescribable scene, _not one of the hundred that stood
around made any effort to save the man until he was apparently
drowned_. He was then dragged out and stretched on the bow of the
boat, and soon sufficient means were used for his recovery. The brutal
captain ordered him to be taken off his boat--declaring, with an oath,
that he would throw him into the river again, if he was not
immediately removed. I withdrew, sick and horrified with this
appalling exhibition of wickedness.
"Upon inquiry, I learned that the colored man lived some fifty miles
up the Mississippi; that he had been charged with stealing some
article from the wharf; was fired upon with a pistol, and pursued by
"In reflecting upon this unmingled cruelty--this insensibility to
suffering and disregard of life--I exclaimed,
'Is there no flesh in man's obdurate heart?'
"One poor man, chased like a wolf by a hundred blood hounds, yelling,
howling, and gnashing their teeth upon him--plunges into the cold
river to seek protection! A crowd of spectators witness the scene,
with all the composure with which a Roman populace would look upon a
gladiatorial show. Not a voice heard in the sufferer's behalf. At
length the powers of nature give way; the blood flows back to the
heart--the teeth chatter--the voice trembles and dies, while the
victim drops down into his grave.
"What an atrocious system is that which leaves two millions of souls,
friendless and powerless--hunted and chased--afflicted and tortured
and driven to death, without the means of redress.--Yet such is the
system of slavery."
The 'public opinion' of slaveholders is illustrated by scores of
announcements in southern papers, like the following, from the
Raleigh, (N.C.) Register, August 20, 1838. Joseph Gale and Son,
editors and proprietors--the father and brother of the editor of the
National Intelligence, Washington city, D.C.
"On Saturday night, Mr. George Holmes, of this county, and some of his
friends, were in pursuit of a runaway slave (the property of Mr.
Holmes) and fell in with him in attempting to make his escape. Mr. H.
discharged a gun at his legs, for the purpose of disabling him; but
unfortunately, the slave stumbled, and the shot struck him near the
small of the back, of which wound he died in a short time. The slave
continued to run some distance after he was shot, until overtaken by
one of the party. We are satisfied, from all that we can learn, that
Mr. H. had no intention of inflicting a mortal wound."
Oh! the _gentleman_, it seems, only shot at his legs, merely to
'disable'--and it must be expected that every _gentleman_ will amuse
himself in shooting at his own property whenever the notion takes him,
and if he should happen to hit a little higher and go through the
small of the back instead of the legs, why every body says it is
'unfortunate,' and the whole of the editorial corps, instead of
branding him as a barbarous wretch for shooting at his slave, whatever
part be aimed at, join with the oldest editor in North Carolina, in
complacently exonerating Mr. Holmes by saying, "We are satisfied that
Mr. H. had no intention of inflicting a mortal wound." And so 'public
opinion' wraps it up!
The Franklin (La.) Republican, August 19, 1837, has the following:
"NEGROES TAKEN.--Four gentlemen of this vicinity, went out yesterday
for the purpose of finding the camp of some noted runaways, supposed
to be near this place; the camp was discovered about 11 o'clock, the
negroes four in number, three men and one woman, finding they were
discovered, tried to make their escape through the cane; two of them
were fired on, one of which made his escape; the other one fell after
running a short distance, his wounds are not supposed to be dangerous;
the other man was taken without any hurt; the woman also made her
Thus terminated the mornings amusement of the '_four gentlemen_,'
whose exploits are so complacently chronicled by the editor of the
Franklin Republican. The three men and one woman were all fired upon,
it seems, though only one of them was shot down. The half famished
runaways made not the least resistance, they merely rushed in panic
among the canes, at the sight of their pursuers, and the bullets
whistled after them and brought to the ground one poor fellow, who was
carried back by his captors as a trophy of the 'public opinion' among
In the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph, Nov. 27, 1838, we find the following
account of a runaway's den, and of the good luck of a 'Mr. Adams,' in
running down one of them 'with his excellent dogs:'
"A runaway's den was discovered on Sunday near the Washington Spring,
in a little patch of woods, where it had been for several months, so
artfully concealed under ground, that it was detected only by
accident, though in sight of two or three houses, and near the road
and fields where there has been constant daily passing. The entrance
was concealed by a pile of pine straw, representing a hog bed--which
being removed, discovered a trap door and steps that led to a room
about six feet square, comfortably ceiled with plank, containing a
small fire-place the flue of which was ingeniously conducted above
ground and concealed by the straw. The inmates took the alarm and made
their escape; but Mr. Adams and his excellent dogs being put upon the
trail, soon run down and secured one of them, which proved to be a
negro fellow who had been out about a year. He stated that the other
occupant was a woman, who had been a runaway a still longer time. In
the den was found a quantity of meal, bacon, corn, potatoes, &c., and
various cooking utensils and wearing apparel."
Yes, Mr. Adams' 'EXCELLENT DOGS' did the work! They were well trained,
swift, fresh, keen-scented, 'excellent' men-hunters, and though the
poor fugitive in his frenzied rush for liberty, strained every muscle,
yet they gained upon him, and after dashing through fens, brier-beds,
and the tangled undergrowth till faint and torn, he sinks, and the
blood-hounds are upon him. What blood-vessels the poor struggler burst
in his desperate push for life--how much he was bruised and lacerated
in his plunge through the forest, or how much the dogs tore him, the
Macon editor has not chronicled--they are matters of no moment--but
his heart is touched with the merits of Mr. Adams' 'EXCELLENT DOGS,'
that 'soon _run down_ and _secured_' a guiltless and trembling human
The Georgia Constitutionalist, of Jan. 1837, contains the following
letter from the coroner of Barnwell District, South Carolina, dated
Aiken, S.C. Dec. 20, 1836.
"_To the Editor of the Constitutionalist:_
"I have just returned from an inquest I held over the body of a negro
man, a runaway, that was shot near the South Edisto, in this District,
(Barnwell,) on Saturday last. He came to his death by his own
recklessness. He refused to be taken alive--and said that other
attempts to take him had been made, and he was determined that he
would not be taken. He was at first, (when those in pursuit of him
found it absolutely necessary,) shot at with small shot, with the
intention of merely crippling him. He was shot at several times, and
at last he was so disabled as to be compelled to surrender. He kept in
the run of a creek in a very dense swamp all the time that the
neighbors were in pursuit of him. As soon as the negro was taken, the
best medical aid was procured, but he died on the same evening. One of
the witnesses at the Inquisition, stated that the negro boy said he
was from Mississippi, and belonged to so many persons, that he did not
know who his master was, but again he said his master's name was
Brown. He said his name was Sam, and when asked by another witness,
who his master was, he muttered something like Augusta or Augustine.
The boy was apparently above thirty-five or forty years of age, about
six feet high, slightly yellow in the face, very long beard or
whiskers, and very stout built, and a stern countenance; and appeared
to have been a runaway for a long time.
WILLIAM H. PRITCHARD,
_Coroner (Ex-officio,) Barnwell Dist. S.C._"
The Norfolk (Va.) Herald, of Feb. 1837, has the following:
"Three negroes in a ship's yawl, came on shore yesterday evening, near
New Point Comfort, and were soon after apprehended and lodged in jail.
Their story is, that they belonged to a brig from New York bound to
Havana, which was cast away to the southward of Cape Henry, some day
last week; that the brig was called the Maria, Captain Whittemore. I
have no doubt they are deserters from some vessel in the bay, as their
statements are very confused and inconsistent. One of these fellows is
a mulatto, and calls himself Isaac Turner; the other two are quite
black, the one passing by the name of James Jones and the other John
Murray. They have all their clothing with them, and are dressed in
sea-faring apparel. They attempted to make their escape, and _it was
not till a musket was fired at them, and one of them slightly
wounded_, that they surrendered. They will be kept in jail till
something further is discovered respecting them."
The 'St. Francisville (La.) Chronicle,' of Feb. 1, 1839. Gives the
following account of a 'negro hunt,' in that Parish.
"Two or three days since a gentleman of this parish, in _hunting
runaway negroes_, came upon a camp of them in the swamp on Cat Island.
He succeeded in arresting two of them, but the third made fight; and
upon _being shot in the shoulder_, fled to a sluice, where the _dogs
succeeded_ in drowning him before assistance could arrive."
"'The dogs _succeeded_ in drowning him'! Poor fellow! He tried hard for
his life, plunged into the sluice, and, with a bullet in his shoulder,
and the blood hounds unfleshing his bones, he bore up for a moment
with feeble stroke as best he might, but 'public opinion,'
'_succeeded_ in drowning him,' and the same 'public opinion,' calls
the man who fired and crippled him, and cheered on the dogs, 'a
gentleman,' and the editor who celebrates the exploit is a 'gentleman'
A large number of extracts similar to the above, might here be
inserted from Southern newspapers in our possession, but the foregoing
are more than sufficient for our purpose, and we bring to a close the
testimony on this point, with the following. Extract of a letter, from
the Rev. Samuel J. May, of South Scituate, Mass. dated Dec. 20, 1838.
"You doubtless recollect the narrative given in the Oasis, of a slave
in Georgia, who having ranaway from his master, (accounted a very
hospitable and even humane gentleman,) was hunted by his master and
his retainers with horses, dogs, and rifles, and having been driven
into a tree by the hounds, was shot down by his more cruel pursuers.
All the facts there given, and some others equally shocking, connected
with the same case, were first communicated to me in 1833, by Mr. W.
Russell, a highly respectable teacher of youth in Boston. He is
doubtless ready to vouch for them. The same gentleman informed me that
he was keeping school on or near the plantation of the monster who
perpetrated the above outrage upon humanity, that he was even invited
by him to join in the hunt, and when he expressed abhorrence at the
thought, the planter holding up the rifle which he had in his hand
said with an oath, 'damn that rascal, this is the third time he has
runaway, and he shall never run again. I'd rather put a ball into his
side, than into the best buck in the land.'"
Mr. Russell, in the account given by him of this tragedy in the
'Oasis,' page 267, thus describes the slaveholder who made the above
expression, and was the leader of the 'hunt,' and in whose family he
resided at the time as an instructor he says of him--he was "an
opulent planter, in whose family the evils of slaveholding were
palliated by every expedient that a humane and generous disposition
could suggest. He was a man of noble and elevated character, and
distinguished for his generosity, and kindness of heart."
In a letter to Mr. May, dated Feb. 3, 1839, Mr. Russell, speaking of
the hunting of runaways with dogs and guns, says: "Occurrences of a
nature similar to the one related in the 'Oasis,' were not unfrequent
in the interior of Georgia and South Carolina twenty years ago.
_Several_ such fell under my notice within the space of fifteen
months. In two such 'hunts,' I was solicited to join."
The following was written by a sister-in-law of Gerrit Smith, Esq.,
Peterboro. She is married to the son of a North Carolinian.
"In North Carolina, some years ago, several slaves were arrested for
committing serious crimes and depredations, in the neighborhood of
Wilmington, among other things, burning houses, and, in one or more
"It happened that the wife of one of these slaves resided in one of
the most respectable families in W. in the capacity of nurse. Mr. J.
_the first lawyer in the place_, came into the room, where the lady of
the house, was sitting, with the nurse, who held a child in her arms,
and, addressing the nurse, said, Hannah! would you know your husband
if you should see him?--Oh, yes, sir, she replied--When HE DREW FROM
BENEATH HIS CLOAK THE HEAD OF THE SLAVE, at the sight of which the
poor woman immediately fainted. The heads of the others were placed
upon poles, in some part of the town, afterwards known as 'Negro Head
We have just received the above testimony, enclosed in a letter from
Mr. Smith, in which he says, "that the fact stated by my
sister-in-law, actually occurred, there can be no doubt."
The following extract from the Diary of the Rev. ELIAS CORNELIUS, we
insert here, having neglected to do it under a preceding head, to
which it more appropriately belongs.
"New Orleans, Sabbath, February 15, 1818. Early this morning
accompanied A.H. Esq. to the _hospital_, with the view of making
arrangements to preach to such of the sick as could understand
English. The first room we entered presented a scene of human misery,
such as I had never before witnessed. A poor negro man was lying upon
a couch, apparently in great distress; a more miserable object can
hardly be conceived. His face was much _disfigured_, an IRON COLLAR,
TWO INCHES WIDE AND HALF AN INCH THICK, WAS CLASPED ABOUT HIS NECK,
while one of his feet and part of the leg were in a state of
putrefaction. We inquired the cause of his being in this distressing
condition, and he answered us in a faltering voice, that he was
willing to tell us all the truth.
"He belonged to Mr. ---- a Frenchman, ran-away, was caught, and
punished with one hundred lashes! This happened about Christmas; and
during the cold weather at that time, he was confined in the
_Cane-house, with a scanty portion of clothing, and without fire_. In
this situation his foot had frozen, and mortified, and having been
removed from place to place, he was yesterday brought here by order of
his new master, who was an American. I had no time to protract my
conversation with him then, but resolved to return in a few hours and
pray with him.
"Having returned home, I again visited the hospital at half past
eleven o'clock, and concluded first of all [he was to preach at 12,]
to pray with the poor lacerated negro. I entered the apartment in
which he lay, and observed an old man sitting upon a couch; but,
without saying anything went up to the bed-side of the negro, who
appeared to be asleep. I spoke to him, but he gave no answer. I spoke
again, and moved his head, still he said nothing. My apprehensions
were immediately excited, and I felt for his pulse, but it was gone.
Said I to the old man, 'surely this negro is dead.' 'No,' he answered,
'he has fallen asleep, for he had a very restless season last night.'
I again examined and called the old gentleman to the bed, and alas, it
was found true, that he was dead. Not an eye had witnessed his last
struggle, and I was the first, as it should happen, to discover the
fact. I called several men into the room, and without ceremony they
wrapped him in a sheet, and carried him to the _dead-house_ as it is
called."--Edwards' Life of Rev. Elias Cornelius, pp. 101, 2, 3.
THE PROTECTION EXTENDED BY 'PUBLIC OPINION,' TO THE HEALTH OF THE
This may be judged of from the fact that it is perfectly notorious
among slaveholders, both North and South, that of the tens of
thousands of slaves sold annually in the northern slave states to be
transported to the south, large numbers of them die under the severe,
process of acclimation, _all_ suffer more or less, and multitudes
_much_, in their health and strength, during their first years in the
far south and south west. That such is the case is sufficiently proved
by the care taken by all who advertise for sale or hire in Louisiana,
Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, &c. to inform the reader, that their
slaves are 'Creoles,' 'southern born,' 'country born,' &c. or if they
are from the north, that they are 'acclimated,' and the importance
attached to their _acclimation_, is shown in the fact, that it is
generally distinguished from the rest of the advertisements either by
_italics_ or CAPITALS. Almost every newspaper published in the states
far south contains advertisements like the following.
[Footnote 38: See pp. 37-39.]
From the "Vicksburg (Mi.) Register," Dec. 27, 1838.
"I OFFER my plantation for sale. Also seventy-five _acclimated
Negroes_. O.B. COBB."
From the "Southerner," June 7, 1837.
"I WILL sell my Old-River plantation near Columbia in Arkansas;--also
ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY ACCLIMATED SLAVES.
_Port Gibson, Jan. 14, 1837._
From the "Planters' (La.) Intelligencer," March 22.
"Probate sale--Will be offered for sale at Public Auction, to the
highest bidder, ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY _acclimated_ slaves."
Judge of the Parish of Concordia"
From the "Arkansas Advocate," May 22, 1837.
"By virtue of a Deed of Trust, executed to me, I will sell at public
auction at Fisher's Prairie, Arkansas, sixty LIKELY NEGROES,
consisting of Men, Women, Boys and Girls, the most of whom are WELL
GRANDISON D. ROYSTON, _Trustee_."
From the "New Orleans Bee," Feb. 9, 1838.
"VALUABLE ACCLIMATED NEGROES"
"Will be sold on Saturday, 10th inst. at 12 o'clock, at the city
exchange, St. Louis street."
Then follows a description of the slaves, closing with the same
assertion, which forms the caption of the advertisement "ALL
General Felix Houston, of Natchez, advertises in the "Natchez
Courier," April 6, 1838, "Thirty five very fine _acclimated_ Negroes."
Without inserting more advertisements, suffice it to say, that when
slaves are advertised for sale or hire, in the lower southern country,
if they are _natives_, or have lived in that region long enough to
become acclimated, it is _invariably_ stated.
But we are not left to _conjecture_ the amount of suffering
experienced by slaves from the north in undergoing the severe process
of 'seasoning' to the climate, or '_acclimation_' A writer in the New
Orleans Argus, September, 1830, in an article on the culture of the
sugar cane, says; 'The loss by _death_ in bringing slaves from a
northern climate, which our planters are under the necessity of doing,
is not less than TWENTY-FIVE PER CENT.'
Nothwithstanding the immense amount of suffering endured in the
process of acclimation, and the fearful waste of life, and the
_notoriety_ of this fact, still the 'public opinion' of Virginia,
Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, &c. annually DRIVES to the far
south, thousands of their slaves to undergo these sufferings, and the
'public opinion,' of the far south buys them, and forces the helpless
victims to endure them.
THE 'PROTECTION' VOUCHSAFED BY 'PUBLIC OPINION,' TO LIBERTY.
This is shown by hundreds of advertisements in southern papers, like
From the "Mobile Register," July 21. 1837. "WILL BE SOLD CHEAP FOR
CASH, in front of the Court House of Mobile County, on the 22d day of
July next, one mulatto man named HENRY HALL, WHO SAYS HE IS FREE; his
owner or owners, _if any_, having failed to demand him, he is to be
sold according to the statute in such cases made and provided, _to pay
WM. MAGEE, Sh'ff M.C."
From the "Grand Gulf (Miss.) Advertiser," Dec. 7, 1838.
"COMMITTED to the jail of Chickasaw Co. Edmund, Martha, John and
Louisa; the man 50, the woman 35, John 3 years old, and Louisa 14
months. They say they are FREE and were decoyed to this state."
The "Southern Argus," of July 25, 1837, contains the following.
"RANAWAY from my plantation, a negro boy named William. Said boy was
taken up by Thomas Walton, and says _he was free_, and that his
parents live near Shawneetown, Illinois, and that he was _taken_ from
that place in July 1836; says his father's name is William, and his
mother's Sally Brown, and that they moved from Fredericksburg,
Virginia. I will give twenty dollars to any person who will deliver
said boy to me or Col. Byrn, Columbus. SAMUEL H. BYRN"
The first of the following advertisements was a standing one, in the
"Vicksburg Register," from Dec. 1835 till Aug. 1836. The second
advertises the same FREE man for sale.
"SHERIFF'S SALE" "COMMITTED, to the jail of Warren county, as a
Runaway, on the 23d inst. a Negro man, who calls himself John J.
Robinson; _says that he is free_, says that he kept a baker's shop in
Columbus, Miss. and that he peddled through the Chickasaw nation to
Pontotoc, and came to Memphis, where he sold his horse, took water,
and came to this place. The owner of said boy is requested to come
forward, prove property, pay charges, and take him away, or he will be
dealt with as the law directs.
WM. EVERETT, Jailer.
Dec. 24, 1835"
"NOTICE is hereby given, that the above described boy, who calls
himself John J. Robinson, having been confined in the Jail of Warren
county as a Runaway, for six months--and having been regularly
advertised during this period, I shall proceed to sell said Negro boy
at public auction, to the highest bidder for cash, at the door of the
Court House in Vicksburg, on Monday, 1st day of August, 1836, in
pursuance of the statute in such cases made and provided.
E. W. MORRIS, Sheriff.
_Vicksburg, July 2, 1836._"
See "Newborn (N.C.) Spectator," of Jan. 5, 1838, for the following
"RANAWAY, from the subscriber a negro man known as Frank Pilot. He is
five feet eight inches high, dark complexion, and about 50 years old,
_HAS BEEN FREE SINCE_ 1829--is now my property, as heir at law of his
last owner, _Samuel Ralston_, dec. I will give the above reward if he
is taken and confined in any jail so that I can get him.
SAMUEL RALSTON. Pactolus, Pitt County."
From the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) "Flag of the Union," June 7.
"COMMITTED to the jail of Tuscaloosa county, a negro man, who says his
name is Robert Winfield, and _says he is free_.
R.W. BARBER, _Jailer_."
That "public opinion," in the slave states affords no protection to
the liberty of colored persons, even after those persons become
legally free, by the operation of their own laws, is declared by
Governor Comegys, of Delaware, in his recent address to the
Legislature of that state, Jan. 1839. The Governor, commenting upon
the law of the state which provides that persons convicted of certain
crimes shall be sold as servants for a limited time, says,
"_The case is widely different with the negro(!)_ Although ordered to
be disposed of as a servant for a term of years, _perpetual slavery in
the south is his inevitable doom_; unless, peradventure, age or
disease may have rendered him worthless, or some resident of the
State, from motives of _benevolence_, will pay for him three or four
times his intrinsic _value_. It matters not for how short a time he is
ordered to be sold, so that he can be carried from the State. Once
beyond its limits, _all chance of restored freedom is gone_--for he is
removed far from the reach of any testimony to aid him in an effort to
be released from bondage, when his _legal_ term of servitude has
expired. _Of the many colored convicts sold out of the State, it is
believed none ever return_. Of course they are purchased _with the
express view to their transportation for life_, and bring such
enormous prices as to prevent all _competition_ on the part of those
of our citizens who _require_ their services, and _would keep them in
From the "Memphis (Ten.) Enquirer," Dec. 28, 1838.
"$50 REWARD. Ranaway, from the subscriber, on Thursday last, a negro
man named Isaac, 22 years old, about 5 feet 10 or 11 inches high, dark
complexion, well made, full face, speaks quick, and very correctly for
a negro. _He was originally from New-York_, and no doubt will attempt
to pass himself as free. I will give the above reward for his
apprehension and delivery, or confinement, so that I obtain him, if
taken out of the state, or $30 if taken within the state.
JNO. SIMPSON. _Memphis, Dec. 28._"
Mark, with what shameless hardihood this JNO. SIMPSON, tells the
public that _he knew_ Isaac Wright was a free man! 'HE WAS ORIGINALLY
FROM NEW YORK,' he tells us. And yet he adds with brazen effrontery,
'_he will attempt to pass himself as free._' This Isaac Wright, was
shipped by a man named Lewis, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, and sold
as a slave in New Orleans. After passing through several hands, and
being flogged nearly to death, he made his escape, and five days ago,
(March 5,) returned to his friends in Philadelphia.
From the "Baltimore Sun," Dec. 23, 1838.
"FREE NEGROES--Merry Ewall, a FREE NEGRO, from Virginia, was committed
to jail, at Snow Hill, Md. last week, for remaining in the State
longer than is allowed by the law of 1831. The fine in his case
amounts to $225. Capril Purnell, a negro from Delaware, is now in jail
in the same place, for a violation of the same act. His fine amounts
to FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS, and he WILL BE SOLD IN A SHORT TIME."
The following is the decision of the Supreme Court, of Louisiana, in
the case of Gomez _vs_. Bonneval, Martin's La. Reports, 656, and
Wheeler's "Law of Slavery," p. 380-1.
_Marginal remark of the Compiler.--"A slave does not become free on
his being illegally imported into the state."_
"_Per Cur. Derbigny_, J. The petitioner is a negro in actual state of
slavery; he claims his freedom, and is bound to prove it. In his
attempt, however, to show that he was free before he was introduced
into this country, he has failed, so that his claim rests entirely on
the laws prohibiting the introduction of slaves in the United States.
That the plaintiff was imported since that prohibition does exist is a
fact sufficiently established by the evidence. What right he has
acquired under the laws forbidding such importation is the only
question which we have to examine. Formerly, while the act dividing
Louisiana into two territories was in force in this country, slaves
introduced here in contravention to it, were freed by operation of
law; but that act was merged in the legislative provisions which were
subsequently enacted on the subject of importation of slaves into the
United States generally. Under the now existing laws, the individuals
thus imported acquire _no personal right_, they are mere passive
beings, who are disposed of _according to the will_ of the different
state legislatures. In this country they are to _remain slaves_, and
TO BE SOLD FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE STATE. The plaintiff, therefore, has
nothing to claim as a freeman; and as to a mere change of master,
should such be his wish, _he cannot be listened to in a court of
Extract from a speech of Mr. Thomson of Penn. in Congress, March 1,
1826, on the prisons in the District of Columbia.
"I visited the prisons twice that I might myself ascertain the truth.
* * In one of these cells (but eight feet square,) were confined at
that time, seven persons, three women and four children. The children
were confined under a strange system of law in this District, by which
a colored person who _alleges_ HE IS FREE, and appeals to the
tribunals of the country, to have the matter tried, is COMMITTED TO
PRISON, till the decision takes place. They were almost naked--one of
them was sick, lying on the damp brick floor, _without bed, pillow, or
covering_. In this abominable cell, seven human beings were confined
day by day, and night after night, without a bed, chair, or stool, or
any other of the most common necessaries of life."--_Gales'
Congressional Debates_, v.2, p. 1480.
The following facts serve to show, that the present generation of
slaveholders do but follow in the footsteps of their fathers, in their
zeal for LIBERTY.
Extract from a document submitted by the Committee of the yearly
meeting of Friends in Philadelphia, to the Committee of Congress, to
whom was referred the memorial of the people called Quakers, in 1797.
"In the latter part of the year 1776, several of the people called
Quakers, residing in the counties of Perquimans and Pasquotank, in the
state of North Carolina, liberated their negroes, as it was then clear
there was no existing law to prevent their so doing; for the law of
1741 could not at that time be carried into effect; and they were
suffered to remain free, until a law passed, in the spring of 1777,
under which they were taken up and sold, contrary to the Bill of
Rights, recognized in the constitution of that state, as a part
thereof, and to which it was annexed.
"In the spring of 1777, when the General Assembly met for the first
time, a law was enacted to prevent slaves from being emancipated,
except for meritorious services, &c. to be judged of by the county
courts or the general assembly; and ordering, that if any should be
manumitted in any other way, they be taken up, and the county courts
within whose jurisdictions they are apprehended should order them to
be sold. Under this law the county courts of Perquimans and
Pasquotank, in the year 1777, ordered A LARGE NUMBER OF PERSONS TO BE
SOLD, WHO WERE FREE AT THE TIME THE LAW WAS MADE. In the year 1778
several of those cases were, by certiorari, brought before the
superior court for the district of Edentorn, where the decisions of
the county courts were reversed, the superior court declaring, that
said county courts, in such their proceedings, have exceeded their
jurisdiction, violated the rights of the subject, and acted in direct
opposition to the Bill of Rights of this state, considered justly as
part of the constitution thereof; by giving to a law, not intended to
affect this case, a retrospective operation, thereby to deprive free
men of this state of their liberty, contrary to the laws of the land.
In consequence of this decree several of the negroes were again set at
liberty; but the next General Assembly, early in 1779, passed a law,
wherein they mention, that doubts have arisen, whether the purchasers
of such slaves have a good and legal title thereto, and CONFIRM the
same; under which they were again taken up by the purchasers and
reduced to slavery."
[The number of persons thus re-enslaved was 134.]
The following are the decrees of the Courts, ordering the sale of
"Perquimans County, July term, at Hartford, A.D. 1777.
"These may certify, that it was then and there ordered, that the
sheriff of the county, to-morrow morning, at ten o'clock, expose to
sale, to the highest bidder, for ready money, at the court-house door,
the several negroes taken up as free, and in his custody, agreeable to
"Test. WM. SKINNER, Clerk. "A true copy, 25th August, 1791. "Test. J.
"Pasquotank County, September Court, &c. &c. 1777.
"Present, the Worshipful Thomas Boyd, Timothy Hickson, John Paelin,
Edmund Clancey, Joseph Reading, and Thomas Rees, Esqrs. Justices.
"It was then and there ordered, that Thomas Reading, Esq. take the
FREE negroes taken up under an act to prevent domestic insurrections
and other purposes, and expose the same to _the best bidder_, at
public vendue, for ready money, and be accountable for the same,
agreeable to the aforesaid act; and make return to this or the next
succeeding court of his proceedings.
"A copy. ENOCH REESE, C.C."
THE PROTECTION OF "PUBLIC OPINION" TO DOMESTICS TIES.
The barbarous indifference with which slaveholders regard the forcible
sundering of husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and
sisters, and the unfeeling brutality indicated by the language in
which they describe the efforts made by the slaves, in their yearnings
after those from whom they have been torn away, reveals a 'public
opinion' towards them as dead to their agony as if they were cattle.
It is well nigh impossible to open a southern paper without finding
evidence of this. Though the truth of this assertion can hardly be
called in question, we subjoin a few illustrations, and could easily
From the "Savannah Georgian," Jan. 17, 1839. "$100 reward will be
given for my two fellows, Abram and Frank. Abram has a _wife_ at
Colonel Stewart's, in Liberty county, and a _sister_ in Savannah, at
Capt. Grovenstine's. Frank has a _wife_ at Mr. Le Cont's, Liberty
county; a _mother_ at Thunderbolt, and a _sister_ in Savannah.
WM. ROBARTS. Wallhourville, 5th Jan. 1839"
From the "Lexington (Ky.) Intelligencer." July 7, 1838.
"$160 Reward.--Ranaway from the subscribers living in this city, on
Saturday 16th inst. a negro man, named Dick, about 37 years of age. It
is highly probable said boy will make for New Orleans as _he has a
wife_ living in that city, and he has been heard to say frequently
that _he was determined to go to New Orleans_.
"DRAKE C. THOMPSON. "Lexington, June 17, 1838"
From the "Southern Argus," Oct. 31, 1837.
"Runaway--my negro man, Frederick, about 20 years of age. He is no
doubt near the plantation of G.W. Corprew, Esq of Noxubbee County,
Mississippi, as _his wife belongs to that gentleman, and he followed
her from my residence_. The above reward will be paid to any one who
will confine him in jail and inform me of it at Athens, Ala. "Athens,
Alabama. KERKMAN LEWIS."
From the "Savannah Georgian," July 8, 1837.
"Ran away from the subscriber, his man Joe. He visits the city
occasionally, where he has been harbored by his _mother_ and _sister_.
I will give one hundred dollars for proof sufficient to _convict his
harborers_. R.P.T. MONGIN."
The "Macon (Georgia) Messenger," Nov. 23, 1837, has the following:--
"$25 Reward.--Ran away, a negro man, named Cain. He was brought from
Florida, and _has a wife near Mariana_, and probably will attempt to
make his way there. H.L. COOK."
From the "Richmond (Va.) Whig," July 25, 1837.
"Absconded from the subscriber, a negro man, by the name of Wilson. He
was born in the county of New Kent, and raised by a gentleman named
Ratliffe, and by him sold to a gentleman named Taylor, on whose farm
he had a _wife_ and _several children_. Mr. Taylor sold him to a Mr.
Slater, who, in consequence of removing to Alabama, Wilson left; and
when retaken was sold, and afterwards purchased, by his present owner,
from T. McCargo and Co. of Richmond."
From the "Savannah (Ga. ) Republican," Sept. 3, 1838.
"$20 Reward for my negro man Jim.--Jim is about 50 or 55 years of age.
It is probable he will aim for Savannah, as he said _he had children_
in that vicinity.
Barnwell District, S.C."
From the "Staunton (Va.) Spectator," Jan. 3, 1839.
"Runaway, Jesse.--He has a _wife_, who belongs to Mr. John Ruff, of
Lexington, Rockbridge county, and he may probably be lurking in that
neighborhood. MOSES McCUE."
From the "Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle," July 10, 1837.
"$120 Reward for my negro Charlotte. She is about 20 years old. She
was purchased some months past from Mr. Thomas. J. Walton, of Augusta,
by Thomas W. Oliver; and, as her _mother_ and acquaintances live in
that city, it is very likely she is _harbored_ by some of them. MARTHA
From the "Raleigh (N.C.) Register," July 18, 1837.
Ranaway from the subscriber, a negro man named Jim, the property of
Mrs. Elizabeth Whitfield. He _has a wife_ at the late Hardy Jones',
and may probably be lurking in that neighborhood. JOHN O'RORKE."
From the "Richmond (Va.) Compiler," Sept. 8, 1837.
"Ranaway from the subscriber, Ben. He ran off without any known cause,
and _I suppose he is aiming to go to his wife, who was carried from
the neighborhood last winter_. JOHN HUNT."
From the "Charleston (S.C.) Mercury," Aug. 1, 1837.
"Absconded from Mr. E.D. Bailey, on Wadmalaw, his negro man, named
Saby. Said fellow was purchased in January, from Francis Dickinson, of
St. Paul's parish, and is probably now in that neighborhood, _where he
has a wife_. THOMAS N. GADSDEN."
From the "Portsmouth (Va.) Times," August 3, 1838.
"$50 dollars Reward will be given for the apprehension of my negro man
Isaac. He _has a wife_ at James M. Riddick's, of Gates county, N.C.
where he may probably be lurking. C. MILLER."
From the "Savannah (Georgia) Republican." May 24, 1838.
"$40 Reward.--Ran away from the subscriber in Savannah, his negro girl
Patsey. She was purchased among the gang of negroes, known as the
Hargreave's estate. She is no doubt lurking about Liberty county, at
which place _she has relatives_. EDWARD HOUSTOUN, of Florida"
From the "Charleston (S.C.) Courier," June 29, 1837.
"$20 Reward will be paid for the apprehension and delivery, at the
workhouse in Charleston, of a mulatto woman, named Ida. It is probable
she may have made her way into Georgia, where she has _connections_.
From the "Norfolk (Va.) Beacon," March 31, 1838.
"The subscriber will give $20 for the apprehension of his negro woman,
Maria, who ran away about twelve months since. She is known to be
lurking in or about Chuckatuch, in the county of Nansemond, where _she
has a husband_, and _formerly belonged_. PETER ONEILL."
From the "Macon (Georgia) Messenger," Jan. 16, 1839.
"Ranaway from the subscriber, two negroes, Davis, a man about 45 years
old; also Peggy, his wife, near the same age. Said negroes will
probably make their way to Columbia county, as _they have children_
living in that county. I will liberally reward any person who may
deliver them to me. NEHEMIAH KING."
From the "Petersburg (Va.) Constellation," June 27, 1837.
"Ranaway, a negro man, named Peter. _He has a wife_ at the plantation
of Mr. C. Haws, near Suffolk, where it is supposed he is still
lurking. JOHN L. DUNN."
From the "Richmond (Va.) Whig," Dec. 7, 1739.
"Ranaway from the subscriber, a negro man, named John Lewis. It is
supposed that he is lurking about in New Kent county, where he
professes to have a _wife_. HILL JONES, Agent for R.F. & P. Railroad Co."
From the "Red River (La.) Whig," June 2d, 1838.
"Ran away from the subscriber, a mulatto woman, named Maria. It is
probable she may be found in the neighborhood of Mr. Jesse Bynum's
plantation, where _she has relations_, &c. THOMAS J. WELLS."
From the "Lexington (Ky.) Observer and Reporter," Sept. 28, 1838.
"$50 Reward.--Ran away from the subscriber, a negro girl, named Maria.
She is of a copper color, between 13 and 14 years of age--_bare
headed_ and _bare footed_. She is small of her age--very sprightly and
very likely. She stated she was _going to see her mother_ at
Maysville. SANFORD THOMSON."
From the "Jackson (Tenn.) Telegraph," Sept. 14, 1838.
"Committed to the jail of Madison county, a negro woman, who calls her
name Fanny, and says she belongs to William Miller, of Mobile. She
formerly belonged to John Givins, of this county, who now owns
_several of her children_. DAVID SHROPSHIRE, Jailor."
From the "Norfolk (Va.) Beacon," July 3d, 1838.
"Runaway from my plantation below Edenton, my negro man, Nelson. _He
has a mother living_ at Mr. James Goodwin's, in Ballahack, Perquimans
county; and _two brothers_, one belonging to Job Parker, and the other
to Josiah Coffield. WM. D. RASCOE."
From the "Charleston (S.C.) Courier," Jan. 12, 1838.
"$100 Reward.--Run away from the subscriber, his negro fellow, John.
He is well known about the city as one of my bread carriers: _has a
wife_ living at Mrs. Weston's, on Hempstead. John formerly belonged to
Mrs. Moor, near St. Paul's church, where his _mother_ still lives, and
_has been harbored by her_ before.
JOHN T. MARSHALL.
60, Tradd street."
From the "Newbern (N.C.) Sentinel," March 17, 1837.
"Ranaway, Moses, a black fellow, about 40 years of age--has a _wife_
THOMAS BRAGG, Sen.
From the "Richmond (Va.) Whig," June 30, 1837.
"Ranaway, my man Peter.--He has a _sister_ and _mother_ in New Kent,
and a _wife_ about fifteen or eighteen miles above Richmond, at or
about Taylorsville. THEO. A. LACY."
From the "New Orleans Bulletin," Feb. 7, 1838.
"Ranaway, my negro Philip, aged about 40 years.--He may have gone to
St. Louis, as _he has a wife there_. W.G. CLARK, 70 New Levee."
From the "Georgian," Jan. 29, 1838.
"A Reward of $5 will be paid for the apprehension of his negro woman,
Diana. Diana is from 45 to 50 age. She formerly belonged to Mr. Nath.
Law, of Liberty county, _where her husband still lives_. She will
endeavor to go there perhaps. D. O'BYRNE."
From the "Richmond (Va.) Enquirer," Feb. 20, 1838.
"$10 Reward for a negro woman, named Sally, 40 years old. We have just
reason to believe the said negro to be now lurking on the James River
Canal, or in the Green Spring neighborhood, where, we are informed,
_her husband resides_. The above reward will be given to any person
POLLY C. SHIELDS.
Mount Elba, Feb. 19, 1838."
"$50 Reward.--Ran away from the subscriber, his negro man Pauladore,
commonly called Paul. I understand GEN. R.Y. HAYNE _has purchased his
wife and children_ from H.L. PINCKNEY, Esq. and has them now on his
plantation at Goosecreek, where, no doubt, the fellow is frequently
_lurking_. T. DAVIS."
"$25 Reward.--Ran away from the subscriber, a negro woman, named
Matilda. It is thought she may be somewhere up James River, as she was
claimed as _a wife_ by some boatman in Goochland. J. ALVIS."
"Stop the Runaway!!!--$25 Reward. Ranaway from the Eagle Tavern, a
negro fellow, named Nat. He is no doubt attempting to _follow his
wife, who was lately sold to a speculator_ named Redmond. The above
reward will be paid by Mrs. Lucy M. Downman, of Sussex county, Va."
Multitudes of advertisements like the above appear annually in the
southern papers. Reader, look at the preceding list--mark the
unfeeling barbarity with which their masters and _mistresses_ describe
the struggles and perils of sundered husbands and wives, parents and
children, in their weary midnight travels through forests and rivers,
with torn limbs and breaking hearts, seeking the embraces of each
other's love. In one instance, a mother torn from all her children and
taken to a remote part of another state, presses her way back through
the wilderness, hundreds of miles, to clasp once more her children to
her heart: but, when she has arrived within a few miles of them, in
the same county, is discovered, seized, dragged to jail, and her
purchaser told, through an advertisement, that she awaits his order.
But we need not trace out the harrowing details already before the
Rev. C.S. RENSHAW, of Quincy, Illinois, who resided some time in
"I was told the following fact by a young lady, daughter of a
slaveholder in Boone county, Kentucky, who lived within half a mile of
Mr. Hughes' farm. Hughes and Neil traded in slaves down the river:
they had bought up a part of their stock in the upper counties of
Kentucky, and brought them down to Louisville, where the remainder of
their drove was in jail, waiting their arrival. Just before the
steamboat put off for the lower country, two negro women were offered
for sale, each of them having a young child at the breast. The traders
bought them, took their babes from their arms, and offered them to the
highest bidder; and they were sold for one dollar apiece, whilst the
stricken parents were driven on board the boat; and in an hour were on
their way to the New Orleans market. You are aware that a young babe
_decreases_ the value of a field hand in the lower country, whilst it
increases her value in the 'breeding states.'"
The following is an extract from an address, published by the
Presbyterian Synod of Kentucky, to the churches under their care, in
"Brothers and sisters, parents and children, husbands and wives, are
_torn asunder_, and permitted to see each other no more. These acts
are DAILY occurring in the midst of us. The _shrieks_ and the _agony,
often_ witnessed on such occasions, proclaim, with a trumpet tongue,
the iniquity of our system. _There is not a neighborhood_ where these
heart-rending scenes are not displayed. _There is not a village or
road_ that does not behold the sad procession of manacled outcasts,
whose mournful countenances tell that they are exiled by _force_ from
ALL THAT THEIR HEARTS HOLD DEAR."--_Address_, p. 12.
Professor ANDREWS, late of the University of North Carolina, in his
recent work on Slavery and the Slave Trade, page 147, in relating a
conversation with a slave-trader, whom he met near Washington City,
says, he inquired,
"'Do you _often_ buy the wife without the husband?' 'Yes, VERY OFTEN;
and FREQUENTLY, too, they _sell me the mother while they keep her
children. I have often known them take away the infant from its
mother's breast, and keep it, while they sold her_.'"
The following sale is advertised in the "Georgia Journal," Jan, 2,
"Will be sold, the following PROPERTY, to wit: One ---- CHILD, by the
name of James, _about eight months old_, levied on as the property of
The following is a standing advertisement in the Charleston (S.C.)
"120 Negroes for Sale--The subscriber has _just arrived from
Petersburg, Virginia_, with one hundred and twenty _likely young_
negroes of both sexes and every description, which he offers for sale
on the most reasonable terms.
"The lot now on hand consists of plough boys several likely and
well-qualified house servants of both sexes, several _women with
children, small girls_ suitable for nurses, and several SMALL BOYS
WITHOUT THEIR MOTHERS. Planters and traders are earnestly requested to
give the subscriber a call previously to making purchases elsewhere,
as he is enabled and will sell as cheap, or cheaper, than can be sold
by any other person in the trade. BENJAMIN DAVIS. Hamburg, S.C. Sept.
Extract Of a letter to a member of Congress from a friend in
Mississippi, published in the "Washington Globe," June, 1837.
"The times are truly alarming here. Many plantations _are entirely
stripped of negroes_ (protection!) and horses, by the marshal or
sheriff.--Suits are multiplying--two thousand five hundred in the
United States Circuit Court, and three thousand in Hinds County
Testimony of MR. SILAS STONE, of Hudson, New York. Mr. Stone is a
member of the Episcopal Church, has several times been elected an
Assessor of the city of Hudson, and for three years has filled the
office of Treasurer of the County. In the fall of 1807, Mr. Stone
witnessed a sale of slaves, in Charleston, South Carolina, which he
thus describes in a communication recently received from him.
"I saw droves of the poor fellows driven to the slave markets kept in
different parts of the city, one of which I visited. The arrangements
of this place appeared something like our northern horse-markets,
having sheds, or barns, in the rear of a public house, where alcohol
was a handy ingredient to stimulate the spirit of jockeying. As the
traders appeared, lots of negroes were brought from the stables into
the bar room, and by a flourish of the whip were made to assume an
active appearance. 'What will you give for these fellows?' 'How old
are they? 'Are they healthy?' 'Are they quick?' &c. at the same time
the owner would give them a cut with a cowhide, and tell them to dance
and jump, cursing and swearing at them if they did not move quick. In
fact all the transactions in buying and selling slaves, partakes of
jockey-ship, as much as buying and selling horses. There was as little
regard paid to the feelings of the former as we witness in the latter.
"From these scenes I turn to another, which took place in front of the
noble 'Exchange Buildings,' in the heart of the city. On the left side
of the steps, as you leave the main hall, immediately under the
windows of that proud building, was a stage built, on which a mother
with eight children were placed, and sold at auction. I watched their
emotions closely, and saw their feelings were in accordance to human
nature. The sale began with the eldest child, who, being struck off to
the highest bidder, was taken from the stage or platform by the
purchaser, and led to his wagon and stowed away, to be carried into
the country; the second, and third were also sold, and so until seven
of the children were torn from their mother, while her discernment
told her they were to be separated probably forever, causing in that
mother the most agonizing sobs and cries, in which the children seemed
to share. The scene beggars description; suffice it to say, it was
sufficient to cause tears from one at least 'whose skin was not
colored like their own,' and I was not ashamed to give vent to them."
THE "PROTECTION" AFFORDED BY "PUBLIC OPINION"
TO CHILDHOOD AND OLD AGE.