The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Part 3 of 4
American Anti-Slavery Society

Part 6 out of 20

DAVID L. CHILD, Esq., of Northampton, Massachusetts, Secretary of the
United States' minister at the Court of Lisbon during the
administration of President Monroe, stated the following fact in an
oration delivered by him in Boston, in 1831. (See Child's "Despotism
of Freedom," p. 30.

"An honorable friend, who stands high in the state and in the nation,
[12] was _present at the_ burial of a female slave in Mississippi, who
_had been whipped to death_ at the stake by her master, because she
was gone longer of an errand to the neighboring town than her master
thought necessary. Under the lash she protested tlat she was ill, and
was obliged to rest in the fields. To complete the climax of horror,
she was delivered of a dead infant while undergoing the punishment."

[Footnote 12: "The narrator of this fact is now absent from the United
States, and I do not feel at liberty to mention his name."]

The same fact is stated by MRS. CHILD in her "Appeal." In answer to a
recent letter, inquiring of Mr. and Mrs. Child if they were now at
liberty to disclose the name of their informant, Mr. C. says,--

"The witness who stated to us the fact was John James Appleton, Esq.,
of Cambridge, Mass. He is now in Europe, and it is not without some
hesitation that I give his name. He, however, has openly embraced our
cause, and taken a conspicuous part in some anti-slavery public
meetings since the time that I felt a scruple at publishing his name.
Mr. Appleton is a gentleman of high talents and accomplishments. He
has been Secretary of Legation at Rio Janeiro, Madrid, and the Hague;
Commissioner at Naples, and Charge d'Affaires at Stockholm."

The two following facts are stated upon the authority of the REV.
JOSEPH G. WILSON, pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Salem,
Washington co., Indiana.

"In Bath co., Kentucky, Mr. L., in the year '32 or '33, while
intoxicated, in a fit of rage whipped a female slave until she fainted
and fell on the floor. Then he whipped her to get up; then with red
hot tongs he burned off her ears, and whipped her again! but all in
vain. He then ordered his negro men to carry her to the cabin. There
she was found dead next morning.

"One Wall, in Chester district, S.C., owned a slave, whom he hired to
his brother-in-law, Wm. Beckman, for whom the slave worked eighteen
months, and worked well. Two weeks after returning to his master he
ran away on account of bad treatment. To induce him to return, the
master sold him _nominally_ to his neighbor, to whom the slave gave
himself up, and by whom he was returned to his master:--Punishment,
_stripes_. To prevent escape a bar of iron was fastened with three
bands, at the waist, knee, and ankle. That night he broke the bands
and bar, and escaped. Next day he was taken and whipped to death, by
three men, the master, Thorn, and the overseer. First, he was whipped
and driven towards home; on the way he attempted to escape, and was
shot at by the master,--caught, and knocked down with the butt of the
gun by Thorn. In attempting to cross a ditch he fell, with his feet
down, and face on the bank; they whipped in vain to get him up--he
died. His soul ascended to God, to be a swift witness against his
oppressors. This took place at 12 o'clock. Next evening an inquest was
held. Of thirteen jurors, summoned by the coroner, nine said it was
murder; two said it was manslaughter, and two said it was JUSTIFIABLE!
He was bound over to court, tried, and acquitted--not even fined!"

The following fact is stated on the authority of Mr. WM. WILLIS, of
Green Plains, Clark co. Ohio; formerly of Caroline co. on the eastern
shore of Maryland.

"Mr. W. knew a slave called Peter White, who was sold to be taken to
Georgia; he escaped, and lived a long time in the woods--was finally
taken. When he found himself surrounded, he surrendered himself
quietly. When his pursuers had him in their possession, they shot him
in the leg, and broke it, out of mere wantonness. The next day a
Methodist minister set his leg, and bound it up with splints. The man
who took him, then went into his place of confinement, wantonly jumped
upon his leg and crushed it. His name was William Sparks."

Most of our readers are familiar with the horrible atrocities
perpetrated in New Orleans, in 1834, by a certain Madame La Laurie,
upon her slaves. They were published extensively in northern
newspapers at the time. The following are extracts from the accounts
as published in the New Orleans papers immediately after the
occurrence. The New Orleans Bee says:--

"Upon entering one of the apartments, the most appalling spectacle met
their eyes. Seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated, were seen
suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn,
from one extremity to the other. They had been confined for several
months in the situation from which they had thus providentially been
rescued; and had been merely kept in existence to prolong their
sufferings, and to make them taste all that a most refined cruelty
could inflict."

The New Orleans Mercantile Advertiser says:

"A negro woman was found chained, covered with bruises and wounds from
severe flogging.--All the apartments were then forced open. In a room
on the ground floor, two more were found chained, and in a deplorable
condition. Up stairs and in the garret, four more were found chained;
some so weak as to be unable to walk, and all covered with wounds and
sores. One mulatto boy declares himself to have been chained for five
months, being fed daily with only a handful of meal, and receiving
every morning the most cruel treatment."

The New Orleans Courier says:--

"We saw one of these miserable beings.--He had a large hole in his
head--his body, from head to foot, was covered with scars and filled
with worms."

The New Orleans Mercantile Advertiser says:

"Seven poor unfortunate slaves were found--some chained to the floor,
others with chains around their necks, fastened to the ceiling; and
one poor old man, upwards of sixty years of age, chained hand and
foot, and made fast to the floor, in a _kneeling position_. His head
bore the appearance of having been beaten until it was broken, and the
worms were actually to be seen making a feast of his brains!! A woman
had her back literally cooked (if the expression may be used) with the
lash; _the very bones might be seen projecting through the skin!_"

The New York Sun, of Feb. 21, 1837, contains the following:--

"Two negroes, runaways from Virginia, were overtaken a few days since
near Johnstown, Cambria co. Pa. when the persons in pursuit called out
for them to stop or they would shoot them.--One of the negroes turned
around and said, he would die before he would be taken, and at the
moment received a rifle ball through his knee: the other started to
run, but was brought to the ground by a ball being shot in his back.
After receiving the above wounds they made battle with their pursuers,
but were captured and brought into Johnstown. It is said that the
young men who shot them had orders to take them dead or alive."

Mr. M.M. SHAFTER, of Townsend, Vermont, recently a graduate of the
Wesleyan University at Middletown, Connecticut, makes the following

"Some of the events of the Southampton, Va. insurrection were narrated
to me by Mr. Benjamin W. Britt, from Riddicksville, N.C. Mr. Britt
claimed the honor of having shot a black on that occasion, for the
crime of disobeying Mr. Britt's imperative 'Stop.' And Mr. Ashurst, of
Edenton, Georgia, told me that a neighbor of his 'fired at a likely
negro boy of his mother,' because the said boy encroached upon his

Mr. DAVID HAWLEY, a class leader in the Methodist Episcopal Church at
St. Albans, Licking county, Ohio, who moved from Kentucky to Ohio in
1831, certifies as follows:--

"About the year 1825, a slave had escaped for Canada, but was arrested
in Hardin county. On his return, I saw him in Hart county--his wrists
tied together before, his arms tied close to his body, the rope then
passing behind his body, thence to the neck of a horse on which rode
the master, with a club about three feet long, and of the size of a
hoe handle; which, by the appearance of the slave, had been used on
his head, so as to wear off the hair and skin in several places, and
the blood was running freely from his mouth and nose; his heels very
much bruised by the horse's feet, as his master had rode on him
because he _would_ not go fast enough. Such was the slave's appearance
when passing through where I resided. Such cases were not unfrequent."

The following is furnished by Mr. F.A. HART, of Middletown,
Connecticut, a manufacturer, and an influential member of the
Methodist Episcopal Church. It occurred in 1824, about twenty-five
miles this side of Baltimore, Maryland.--

"I had spent the night with a Methodist brother; and while at
breakfast, a person came in and called for help. We went out and found
a crowd collected around a carriage. Upon approaching we discovered
that a slave-trader was endeavoring to force a woman into his
carriage. He had already put in three children, the youngest
apparently about eight years of age. The woman was strong, and
whenever he brought her to the side of the carriage, she resisted so
effectually with her feet that he could not get her in. The woman
becoming exhausted, at length, by her frantic efforts, he thrust her
in with great violence, _stamped her down upon the bottom with his
feet_! shouted to the driver to go on; and away they rolled, the
miserable captives moaning and shrieking, until their voices were lost
in the distance."

Mr. SAMUEL HALL, a teacher in Marietta College, Ohio, writes as

"Mr. ISAAC C. FULLER is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church in
Marietta. He was a fellow student of mine while in college, and now
resides in this place. He says:--In 1832, as I was descending the Ohio
with a flat boat, near the 'French Islands,' so called, below
Cincinnati, I saw two negroes on horseback. The horses apparently took
fright at something and ran. Both jumped over a rail fence; and one of
the horses, in so doing, broke one of his fore-legs, falling at the
same time and throwing the negro who was upon his back. A white man
came out of a house not over two hundred yards distant, and came to
the spot. Seizing a stake from the fence, he knocked the negro down
five or six times in succession.

"In the same year I worked for a Mr. Nowland, eleven miles above Baton
Rouge, La. at a place called 'Thomas' Bend.' He had an overseer who
was accustomed to flog more or less of the slaves every morning. I
heard the blows and screams as regularly as we used to hear the
college bell that summoned us to any duty when we went to school. This
overseer was a nephew of Nowland, and there were about fifty slaves on
his plantation. Nowland himself related the following to me. One of
his slaves ran away, and came to the Homo Chitto river, where he found
no means of crossing. Here he fell in with a white man who knew his
master, being on a journey from that vicinity. He induced the slave to
return to Baton Rouge, under the promise of giving him a pass, by
which he might escape, but, in reality, to betray him to his master.
This he did, instead of fulfilling his promise. Nowland said that he
took the slave and inflicted five hundred lashes upon him, cutting his
back all to pieces, and then thew on hot embers. The slave was on the
plantation at the time, and told me the same story. He also rolled up
his sleeves, and showed me the scars on his arms, which, in
consequence, appeared in places to be callous to the bone. I was with
Nowland between five and six months."

Rev. JOHN RANKIN, formerly of Tennessee, now pastor of the
Presbyterian Church of Ripley, Ohio, has furnished the following

"The Rev. LUDWELL G. GAINES, now pastor of the Presbyterian Church of
Goshen, Clermont county, Ohio, stated to me, that while a resident of
a slave state, he was summoned to assist in taking a man who had made
his black woman work naked several days, and afterwards murdered her.
The murderer armed himself, and threatened to shoot the officer who
went to take him; and although there was ample assistance at hand, the
officer declined further interference."

Mr. RANKIN adds the following:--

"A Presbyterian preacher, now resident in a slave state, and therefore
it is not expedient to give his name, stated, that he saw on board of
a steamboat at Louisville, Kentucky, a woman who had been forced on
board, to be carried off from all she counted dear on earth. She ran
across the boat and threw herself into the river, in order to end a
life of intolerable sorrows. She was drawn back to the boat and taken
up. The brutal driver beat her severely, and she immediately threw
herself again into the river. She was hooked up again, chained, and
carried off."

Testimony of M. WILLIAM HANSBOROUGH, of Culpepper county, Virginia,
the "owner" of sixty slaves.

"I saw a slave taken out of prison by his master, on a hot summer's
day, and driven, by said master, on the road before him, till he
dropped down dead."

The above statement was made by Mr. Hansborough to Lindley Coates, of
Lancaster county, Pa. a distinguished member of the Society of
Friends, and a member of the late Convention in Pa. for altering the
State Constitution. The letter from Mr. C. containing this testimony
of Mr. H. is now before us.

Mr. TOBIAS BOUDINOT, a member of the Methodist Church in St. Albans,
Licking county, Ohio, says:

"In Nicholasville, Ky. in the year 1823, he saw a slave fleeing before
the patrol, but he was overtaken near where he stood, and a man with a
knotted cane, as large as his wrist, struck the slave a number of
times on his head, until the club was broken and he made tame; the
blood was thrown in every direction by the violence of the blows."

The Rev. WILLIAM DICKEY, of Bloomingburg, Fayette county, Ohio, wrote
a letter to the Rev. John Rankin, of Ripley, Ohio thirteen years
since, containing a description of the cutting up of a slave with a
broad axe; beginning at the feet and gradually cutting the legs, arms,
and body into pieces! This diabolical atrocity was committed in the
state of Kentucky, in the year 1807. The perpetrators of the deed were
two brothers, Lilburn and Isham Lewis, NEPHEWS OF PRESIDENT JEFFERSON.
The writer of this having been informed by Mr. Dickey, that some of
the facts connected with this murder were not contained in his letter
published by Mr. Rankin, requested him to write the account _anew_,
and furnish the additional facts. This he did, and the letter
containing it was published in the "Human Rights" for August, 1837. We
insert it here, slightly abridged, with the introductory remarks which
appeared in that paper.

"Mr. Dickey's first letter has been scattered all over the country,
south and north; and though multitudes have affected to disbelieve its
statements, _Kentuckians_ know the truth of them quite too well to
call them in question. The story is fiction or fact--if _fiction_, why
has it not been nailed to the wall? Hundreds of people around the
mouth of Cumberland River are personally knowing to these facts.
_There_ are the records of the court that tried the wretches.--_There_
their acquaintances and kindred still live. All over that region of
country, the brutal butchery of George is a matter of public
notoriety. It is quite needless, perhaps, to add, that the Rev. Wm.
Dickey is a Presbyterian clergyman, one of the oldest members of the
Chilicothe Presbytery, and greatly respected and beloved by the
churches in Southern Ohio. He was born in South Carolina, and was for
many years pastor of a church in Kentucky."


"In the county of Livingston, KY. near the mouth of Cumberland River,
lived Lilburn Lewis, a sister's son of the celebrated Jefferson. He
was the wealthy owner of a considerable gang of negroes, whom he drove
constantly, fed sparingly, and lashed severely. The consequence was,
that they would run away. Among the rest was an ill-thrived boy of
about seventeen, who, having just returned from a skulking spell, was
sent to the spring for water, and in returning let fall an elegant
pitcher: it was dashed to shivers upon the rocks. This was made the
occasion for reckoning with him. It was night, and the slaves were all
at home. The master had them all collected in the most roomy negro
house, and a rousing fire put on. When the door was secured, that none
might escape, either through _fear of him_ or _sympathy with George_,
he opened to them the design of the interview, namely, that they might
be effectually advised to _stay at home and obey his orders_. All
things now in train, he called up George, who approached his master
with unreserved submission. He bound him with cords; and by the
assistance of Isham Lewis, his youngest brother, laid him on a broad
bench, the _meat-block_. He then proceeded to _hack off George at the
ankles_! It was with the _broad axe_! In vain did the unhappy victim
_scream and roar_! for he was completely in his master's power; not a
hand among so many durst interfere; casting the feet into the fire, he
lectured them at some length.--He next _chopped him off below the
knees_! George _roaring out_ and praying his master to begin at the
_other end_! He admonished them again, throwing the legs into the
fire--then, above the knees, tossing the joints into the fire--the
next stroke severed the thighs from the body; these were also
committed to the flames--and so it may be said of the arms, head, and
trunk, until all was in the fire! He threatened any of them with
similar punishment who should in future disobey, run away, or disclose
the proceedings of that evening. Nothing now remained but to consume
the flesh and bones; and for this purpose the fire was brightly
stirred until two hours after midnight; when a coarse and heavy
back-wall, composed of rock and clay, covered the fire and the remains
of George. It was the Sabbath--this put an end to the _amusements_ of
the evening. The negroes were now permitted to disperse, with charges
to keep this matter among themselves, and never to whisper it in the
neighbourhood, under the penalty of a like punishment.

"When he returned home and retired, his wife exclaimed, 'Why, Mr.
Lewis, where have you been, and what were you doing?' She had heard a
strange _pounding_ and dreadful _screams_, and had smelled something
like fresh meat _burning_. The answer he returned was, that he had
never enjoyed himself at a ball so well as he had enjoyed himself that

"Next morning he ordered the hands to rebuild the back-wall, and he
himself superintended the work, throwing the pieces of flesh that
still remained, with the bones, behind, as it went up--thus hoping to
conceal the matter. But it _could not be hid_--much as the negroes
seemed to hazard, they did _whisper the horrid deed_. The neighbors
came, and in his presence tore down the wall; and finding the
_remains_ of the boy, they apprehended Lewis and his brother, and
testified against them. They were committed to jail, that they might
answer at the coming court for this shocking outrage; but finding
security for their appearance at court, THEY WERE ADMITTED TO BAIL!

"In the interim, other articles of evidence leaked out. That of Mrs.
Lewis hearing a pounding, and screaming and her smelling fresh meat
burning, for not till now had this come out. He was offended with her
for disclosing these things, alleging that they might have some weight
against him at the pending trial.

"In connection with this is another item, full of horror. Mr.s. Lewis,
or her girl, in making her bed one morning after this, found, under
her bolster, a keen BUTCHER KNIFE! The appalling discovery forced from
her the confession that she considered her life in jeopardy. Messrs.
Rice and Philips, whose wives were her sisters, went to see her and to
bring her away if she wished it. Mr. Lewis received them with all the
expressions of _Virginia hospitality_. As soon as they were seated
they said, 'Well, Letitia, we supposed that you might be unhappy here,
and afraid for your life; and we have come to-day to take you to your
father's, if you desire it.' She said, 'Thank you, kind brothers, I am
indeed afraid for my life.'--We need not interrupt the story to tell
how much surprised he affected to be with this strange procedure of
his brothers-in-law, and with this declaration of his wife. But all
his professions of fondness for her, to the contrary notwithstanding,
they rode off with her before his eyes.--He followed and overtook, and
went with them to her father's; but she was locked up from him, with
her own consent, and he returned home.

"Now he saw that his character was gone, his respectable friends
believed that he had massacred George; but, worst of all, he saw that
they considered the life of the harmless Letitia was in danger from
his perfidious hands. It was too much for his chivalry to sustain. The
proud Virginian sunk under the accumulated load of public odium. He
proposed to his brother Isham, who had been his accomplice in the
George affair, that they should finish the play of life with a still
deeper tragedy. The plan was, that they should shoot one another.
Having made the hot-brained bargain, they repaired with their guns to
the grave-yard, which was on an eminence in the midst of his
plantation. It was inclosed with a railing, say thirty feet square.
One was to stand at one railing, and the other over against him at the
other. They were to make ready, take aim, and count deliberately 1, 2,
3, and then fire. Lilburn's will was written, and thrown down open
beside him. They cocked their guns and raised them to their faces; but
the peradventure occurring that one of the guns might miss fire, Isham
was sent for a rod, and when it was brought, Lilburn cut it off at
about the length of two feet, and was showing his brother how the
survivor might do, provided one of the guns should fail; (for they
were determined upon going together;) but forgetting, perhaps, in the
perturbation of the moment that the gun was cocked, when he touched
trigger with the rod the gun fired, and he fell, and died in a few
minutes--and was with George in the eternal world, where _the slave is
free from his master_. But poor Isham was so terrified with this
unexpected occurrence and so confounded by the awful contortions of
his brother's face, that he had not nerve enough to follow up the
play, and finish the plan as was intended, but suffered Lilburn to go
alone. The negroes came running to see what it meant that a gun should
be fired in the grave-yard. There lay their master, dead! They ran for
the neighbors. Isham still remained on the spot. The neighbors at the
first charged him with the murder of his brother. But he, though as if
he had lost more than half his mind, told the whole story; and the
course of range of the ball in the dead man's body agreeing with his
statement, Isham was not farther charged with Lilburn's death.

"The Court sat--Isham was judged to be guilty of a capital crime in
the affair of George. He was to be hanged at Salem. The day was set.
My good old father visited him in the prison--two or three times
talked and prayed with him; I visited him once myself. We fondly hoped
that he was a sincere penitent. Before the day of execution came, by
some means, I never knew what, Isham was _missing_. About two years
after, we learned that he had gone down to Natchez, and had married a
lady of some refinement and piety. I saw her letters to his sisters,
who were worthy members of the church of which I was pastor. The last
letter told of his death. He was in Jackson's army, and fell in the
famous battle of New Orleans."

"I am, sir, your friend,




Mr. Hawley is the pastor of the Baptist Church in Colebrook,
Litchfield county, Connecticut. He has resided fourteen years in the
slave states, North and South Carolina. His character and standing
with his own denomination at the south, may be inferred from the
fact, that the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina appointed
him, a few years since, their general agent to visit the Baptist
churches within their bounds, and to secure their co-operation in
the objects of the Convention. Mr. H. accepted the appointment, and
for some time traveled in that capacity.

"I rejoice that the Executive Committee of the American Anti-Slavery
Society have resolved to publish a volume of facts and testimony
relative to the character and workings of American slavery. Having
resided fourteen years at the south, I cheerfully comply with your
request, to give the result of my observation and experience.

"And I would here remark, that one may reside at the south for years,
and not witness extreme cruelties; a northern man, and one who is not
a slaveholder, would be the last to have an opportunity of witnessing
the infliction of cruel punishments."


"A majority of the large plantations are on the banks of rivers, far
from the public eye. A great deal of low marshy ground lies in the
vicinity of most of the rivers at the south; consequently the main
roads are several miles from the rivers, and generally no _public_
road passes the plantations. A stranger traveling on the _ridge_,
would think himself in a miserably poor country; but every two or
three miles he will see a road turning off and leading into the swamp;
taking one of those roads, and traveling from two to six miles, he
will come to a large gate; passing which, he will find himself in a
clearing of several hundred acres of the first quality of land;
passing on, he will see 30, or 40, or more slaves--men, women, boys
and girls, at their task, every one with a hoe; or, if in cotton
picking season, with their baskets. The overseer, with his whip,
either riding or standing about among them; or if the weather is hot,
sitting under a shade. At a distance, on a little rising ground, if
such there be, he will see a cluster of huts, with a tolerable house
in the midst, for the overseer. Those huts are from ten to fifteen
feet square, built of logs, and covered, not with shingles, but with
boards, about four feet long, split out of pine timber with a
'_frow_'. The floors are very commonly made in this way. Clay is first
worked until it is soft; it is then spread upon the ground, about four
or five inches thick; when it dries, it becomes nearly as hard as a
brick. The crevices between the logs are sometimes filled with the
same. These huts generally cost the master nothing--they are commonly
built by the negroes at night, and on Sundays. When a slave of a
neighboring plantation takes a wife, or to use the phrase common at
the south, 'takes up' with one of the women, he builds a hut, and it
is called her house. Upon entering these huts, (not as comfortable in
many instances as the horse stable,) generally, you will find no
chairs, but benches and stools; no table, no bedstead, and no bed,
except a blanket or two, and a few rags or moss; in some instances a
knife or two, but very rarely a fork. You may also find a pot or
skillet, and generally a number of gourds, which serve them instead of
bowls and plates. The cruelties practiced on those secluded
plantations, the judgment day alone can reveal. Oh, Brother, could I
summon ten slaves from ten plantations that I could name, and have
them give but one year's history of their bondage, it would thrill the
land with horror. Those overseers who follow the business of
overseeing for a livelihood, are generally the most unprincipled and
abandoned of men. Their wages are regulated according to their skill
in extorting labor. The one who can make the most bags of cotton, with
a given number of hands, is the one generally sought after; and there
is a competition among them to see who shall make the largest crop,
according to the hands he works. I ask, what must be the condition of
the poor slaves, under the unlimited power of such men, in whom, by
the long-continued practise of the most heart-rending cruelties, every
feeling of humanity has been obliterated? But it may be asked, cannot
the slaves have redress by appealing to their masters? In many
instances it is impossible, as their masters live hundreds of miles
off. There are perhaps thousands in the northern slave states, [and
many in the free states,] who own plantations in the southern slave
states, and many more spend their summers at the north, or at the
various watering places. But what would the slaves gain, if they
should appeal to the master? He has placed the overseer over them,
with the understanding that he will make as large a crop as possible,
and that he is to have entire control, and manage them according to
his own judgment. Now suppose that in the midst of the season, the
slaves make complaint of cruel treatment. The master cannot get along
without an overseer--it is perhaps very sickly on the plantation he
dare not risk his own life there. Overseers are all enraged at that
season, and if he takes part with his slave against the overseer, he
would destroy his authority, and very likely provoke him to leave his
service--which would of course be a very great injury to him. Thus, in
nineteen cases out of twenty, self-interest would prevent the master
from paying any attention to the complaints of his slaves. And, if any
should complain, it would of course come to the ears of the overseer,
and the complainant would be inhumanly punished for it."


"The rule, where slaves are hired out, is two suits of clothes per
year, one pair of shoes, and one blanket; but as it relates to the
great body of the slaves, this cannot be called a general rule. On
many plantations, the children under ten or twelve years old, go
_entirely naked_--or, it clothed at all, they have nothing more than a
shirt. The cloth is of the coarsest kind, far from being durable or
warm; and their shoes frequently come to pieces in a few weeks. I
have never known any provision made, or time allowed for the washing
of clothes. If they wish to wash, as they have generally but one suit,
they go after their day's toil to some stream, build a fire, pull off
their clothes and wash them in the stream, and dry them by the fire;
and in some instances they wear their clothes until they are worn off;
without washing. I have never known an instance of a slaveholder
putting himself to any expense, that his slaves might have decent
clothes for the Sabbath. If by making baskets, brooms, mats, &c. at
night or on Sundays, the slaves can get money enough to buy a Sunday
suit, very well. I have never known an instance of a slaveholder
furnishing his slaves with stockings or mittens. I _know_ that the
slaves suffer much, and no doubt many die in consequence of not being
well clothed."


"In the grain-growing part of the south, the slaves, as it relates to
food, fare tolerably well; but in the cotton, and rice-growing, and
sugar-making portion, some of them fare badly. I have been on
plantations where, from the appearance of the slaves, I should judge
they were half-starved. They receive their allowance very commonly on
Sunday morning. They are left to cook it as they please, and when they
please. Many slaveholders rarely give their slaves meat, and very few
give them more food than will keep them in a working condition. They
rarely ever have a _change_ of food. I have never known an instance of
slaves on plantations being furnished either with sugar, butter,
cheese, or milk."


"If the slaves on plantations were well fed and clothed, and had the
stimulus of wages, they could perhaps in general perform their tasks
without injury. The horn is blown soon after the dawn of day, when all
the hands destined for the field must be 'on the march!' If the field
is far from their huts, they take their breakfast with them. They toil
till about ten o'clock, when they eat it. They then continue their
toil till the sun is set.

"A neighbor of mine, who has been an overseer in Alabama, informs me,
that there they ascertain how much labor a slave can perform in a day,
in the following manner. When they commence a new cotton field, the
overseer takes his watch, and marks how long it takes them to hoe one
row, and then lays out the task accordingly. My neighbor also informs
me, that the slaves in Alabama are worked very hard; that the lash is
almost universally applied at the close of the day, if they fail to
perform their task in the cotton-picking season. You will see them,
with their baskets of cotton, slowly bending their way to the cotton
house, where each one's basket is weighed. They have no means of
knowing accurately, in the course of the day, how they make progress;
so that they are in suspense, until their basket is weighed. Here
comes the mother, with her children; she does not know whether
herself, or children, or all of them, must take the lash; they cannot
weigh the cotton themselves--the whole must be trusted to the
overseer. While the weighing goes on, all is still. So many pounds
short, cries the overseer, and takes up his whip, exclaiming, 'Step
this way, you d--n lazy scoundrel, or bitch.' The poor slave begs, and
promises, but to no purpose. The lash is applied until the overseer is
satisfied. Sometimes the whipping is deferred until the weighing is
all over. I have said that all must be _trusted_ to the overseer. If
he owes any one a grudge, or wishes to enjoy the fiendish pleasure of
whipping a little, (for some overseers really delight in it,) they
have only to tell a falsehood relative to the weight of their basket;
they can then have a pretext to gratify their diabolical disposition;
and from the character of overseers, I have no doubt that it is
frequently done. On all plantations, the male and female slaves fare
pretty much alike; those who are with child are driven to their task
till within a few days of the time of their delivery; and when the
child is a few weeks old, the mother must again go to the field. If it
is far from her hut, she must take her babe with her, and leave it in
the care of some of the children--perhaps of one not more than four or
five years old. If the child cries, she cannot go to its relief; the
eye of the overseer is upon her; and if, when she goes to nurse it,
she stays a little longer than the overseer thinks necessary, he
commands her back to her task, and perhaps a husband and father must
hear and witness it all. Brother, you cannot begin to know what the
poor slave mothers suffer, on thousands of plantations at the south.

"I will now give a few facts, showing the workings of the system. Some
years since, a Presbyterian minister moved from North Carolina to
Georgia. He had a negro man of an uncommon mind. For some cause, I
know not what, this minister whipped him most unmercifully. He next
nearly _drowned_ him; he then put him _in the fence_; this is done by
lifting up the corner of a 'worm' fence, and then putting the feet
through; the rails serve as _stocks_. He kept him there some time, how
long I was not informed, but the poor slave _died_ in a few days; and,
if I was rightly informed, nothing was done about it, either in church
or state. After some tame, he moved back to North Carolina, and is now
a member of ---- Presbytery. I have heard him preach, and have been in
the pulpit with him. May God forgive me!

"At Laurel Hill, Richmond county, North Carolina, it was reported that
a runaway slave was in the neighborhood. A number of young men took
their guns, and went in pursuit. Some of them took their station near
the stage road, and kept on the look-out. It was early in the
evening--the poor slave came along, when the ambush rushed upon him,
and ordered him to surrender. He refused, and kept them off with his
club. They still pressed upon him with their guns presented to his
breast. Without seeming to be daunted, he caught hold of the muzzle of
one of the guns, and came near getting possession of it. At length,
retreating to a fence on one side of the road, he sprang over into a
corn-field, and started to run in one of the rows. One of the young
men stepped to the fence, fired, and lodged the whole charge between
his shoulders; he fell, and died in a short time. He died without
telling who his master was, or whether he had any, or what his own
name was, or where he was from. A hole was dug by the side of the road
his body tumbled into it, and thus ended the whole matter.

"The Rev, Mr. C. a Methodist minister, held as his slave a negro man,
who was a member of his own church. The slave was considered a very
pious man, had the confidence of his master, and all who knew him, and
if I recollect right, he sometimes attempted to preach. Just before
the Nat Turner insurrection, in Southampton county, Virginia, by which
the whole south was thrown into a panic, then worthy slave obtained
permission to visit his relatives, who resided either in Southampton,
or the county adjoining. This was the only instance that ever came to
my knowledge, of a slave being permitted to go so far to visit his
relatives. He went and returned according to agreement. A few weeks
after his return, the insurrection took place, and the whole country
was deeply agitated. Suspicion soon fixed on this slave. Nat Turner
was a Baptist minister, and the south became exceedingly jealous of
all negro preachers. It seemed as if the whole community were
impressed with the belief that he knew all about it; that he and Nat
Turner had concocted an extensive insurrection; and so confident were
they in this belief, that they took the poor slave, tried him, and
hung him. It was all done in a few days. He protested his innocence to
the last. After the excitement was over, many were ready to
acknowledge that they believed him innocent. He was hung upon

"In R---- county, North Carolina, lived a Mr. B. who had the name of
being a cruel master. Three or four winters since, his slaves were
engaged in clearing a piece of new land. He had a negro girl, about 14
years old, whom he had severely whipped a few days before, for not
performing her task. She again failed. The hands left the field for
home; she went with them a part of the way, and fell behind; but the
negroes thought she would soon be along; the evening passed away, and
she did not come. They finally concluded that she had gone back to the
new ground, to lie by the log heaps that were on fire. But they were
mistaken: she had sat down by the foot of a large pine. She was thinly
clad--the night was cold and rainy. In the morning the poor girl was
found, but she was speechless and died in a short time.

"One of my neighbors sold to a speculator a negro boy, about 14 years
old. It was more than his poor mother could bear. Her reason fled, and
she became a perfect _maniac_, and had to be kept in close
confinement. She would occasionally get out and run off to the
neighbors. On one of these occasions she came to my house. She was
indeed a pitiable object. With tears rolling down her checks, and her
frame shaking with agony, she would cry out, _'don't you hear
him--they are whipping him now, and he is calling for me!'_ This
neighbor of mine, who tore the boy away from his poor mother, and thus
broke her heart, was a _member of the Presbyterian church._

"Mr. S----, of Marion District, South Carolina, informed me that a boy
was killed by the overseer on Mr. P----'s plantation. The boy was
engaged in driving the horses in a cotton gin. The driver generally
sits on the end of the sweep. Not driving to suit the overseer, he
knocked him off with the butt of his whip. His skull was fractured. He
died in a short time.

"A man of my acquaintance in South Carolina, and of considerable
wealth, had an only son, whom he educated for the bar; but not
succeeding in his profession, he soon returned home. His father having
a small plantation three or four miles off; placed his son on it as an
overseer. Following the example of his father, as I have good reason
to believe, he took the wife of one of the negro men. The poor slave
felt himself greatly injured, and expostulated with him. The wretch
took his gun, and deliberately shot him. Providentially he only
wounded him badly. When the father came, and undertook to remonstrate
with his son about his conduct, he threatened to shoot him also! and
finally, took the negro woman, and went to Alabama, where he still
resided when I left the south.

"An elder in the Presbyterian church related to me the following.--'A
speculator with his drove of negroes was passing my house, and I
bought a little girl, nine or ten years old. After a few months, I
concluded that I would rather have a plough-boy. Another speculator
was passing, and I sold the girl. She was much distressed, and was
very unwilling to leave.'--She had been with him long enough to become
attached to his own and his negro children, and he concluded by
saying, that in view of the little girl's tears and cries, he had
determined never to do the like again. I would not trust him, for I
know him to be a very avaricious man.

"While traveling in Anson county, North Carolina, I put up for a night
at a private house. The man of the house was not at home when I
stopped, but came in the course of the evening, and was noisy and
profane, and nearly drunk. I retired to rest, but not to sleep; his
cursing and swearing were enough to keep a regiment awake. About
midnight he went to his kitchen, and called out his two slaves, a man
and woman. His object, he said, was to whip them. They both begged and
promised, but to no purpose. The whipping began, and continued for
some time. Their cries might have been heard at a distance.

"I was acquainted with a very wealthy planter, on the Pedee river, in
South Carolina, who has since died in consequence of intemperance. It
was said that he had occasioned the death of twelve of his slaves, by
compelling them to work in water, opening a ditch in the midst of
winter. The disease with which they died was a pleurisy.

"In crossing Pedee river, at Cashway Ferry, I observed that the
ferryman had no hair on either side of his head, I asked him the
cause. He informed me that it was caused by his master's cane. I said,
you have a very bad master. 'Yes, a very bad master.' I understood
that he was once a number of Congress from South Carolina.

"While traveling as agent for the North Carolina Baptist State
Convention, I attended a three days' meeting in Gates county, Friday,
the first day, passed off. Saturday morning came, and the pastor of
the church, who lived a few miles off, did not make his appearance.
The day passed off, and no news from the pastor. On Sabbath morning,
he came hobbling along, having but little use of one foot. He soon
explained: said he had a hired negro man, who, on Saturday morning,
gave him a 'little _slack jaw.'_ Not having a stick at hand, he fell
upon him with his fist and foot, and in _kicking_ him, he injured his
foot so seriously, that he could not attend meeting on Saturday.

"Some of the slaveholding ministers at the south, put their slaves
under overseers, or hire them out, and then take the pastoral care of
churches. The Rev. Mr. B----, formerly of Pennsylvania, had a
plantation in Marlborough District, South Carolina, and was the pastor
of a church in Darlington District. The Rev. Mr. T----, of Johnson
county, North Carolina, has a plantation in Alabama.

"I was present, and saw the Rev. J---- W----, of Mecklenburg county,
North Carolina, hire out four slaves to work in the gold mines is
Burke county. The Rev. H---- M----, of Orange county, sold for $900, a
negro man to a speculator, on a Monday of a camp meeting.

"Runaway slaves are frequently hunted with guns and dogs. _I was once
out on such an excursion, with my rifle and two dogs._ I trust the
Lord has forgiven me this heinous wickedness! We did not take the

"Slaves are sometimes most unmercifully punished for trifling
offences, or mere mistakes.

"As it relates to amalgamation, I can say, that I have been in
respectable families, (so called,) where I could distinguish the
family resemblance in the slaves who waited upon the table. I once
hired a slave who belonged to his own _uncle._ It is so common for the
female slaves to have white children, that little or nothing is ever
said about it. Very few inquiries are made as to who the father is.

"Thus, brother ----, I have given you very briefly, the result, in
part, of my observations and experience relative to slavery. You can
make what disposition of it you please. I am willing that my name
should go to the world with what I have now written.

"Yours affectionately, for the oppressed,


_Colebrook, Connecticut, March_ 18, 1839.


The following is an extract of a letter recently received from CHARLES
MARRIOTT of Hudson, New York. Mr. Marriott is an elder in the
Religious Society of Friends, and is extensively known and respected.

"The two following brief statements, are furnished by Richard Macy and
Reuben G. Macy, brothers, both of Hudson, New York. They are head
carpenters by trade, and have been well known to me for more than
thirty years, as esteemed members of the Religious Society of Friends.
They inform me that during their stay in South Carolina, a number more
similar cases to those here related, came under their notice, which to
avoid repetition they omit.



"During the winter of 1818 and 19, I resided on an island near the
mouth of the Savanna river, on the South Carolina side. Most of the
slaves that came under my particular notice, belonged to a widow and
her daughter, in whose family I lived. No white man belonged to the
plantation. Her slaves were under the care of an overseer who came
once a week to give orders, and settled the score laid up against such
as their mistress thought deserved punishment, which was from
twenty-five to thirty lashes on their naked backs, with a whip which
the overseer generally brought with him. This whip had a stout handle
about two feet long, and a lash about four and a half feet. From two
to four received the above, I believe nearly every week during the
winter, sometimes in my presence, and always in my hearing. I examined
the backs and shoulders of a number of the men, which were mostly
naked while they were about their labor, and found them covered with
hard ridges in every direction. One day, while busy in the cotton
house, hearing a noise, I ran to the door and saw a colored woman
pleading with the overseer, who paid no attention to her cries, but
tied her hands together, and passed the rope over a beam, over head,
where was a platform for spreading cotton, he then drew the rope as
tight as he could, so as to let her toes touch the ground; then
stripped her body naked to the waist, and went deliberately to work
with his whip, and put on twenty-five or thirty lashes, she pleading
in vain all the time. I inquired, the cause of such treatment, and was
informed it was for answering her mistress rather '_short_.'"

"A woman from a neighboring plantation came where I was, on a visit;
she came in a boat rowed by six slaves, who, according to the common
practice, were left to take care of themselves, and having laid them
down in the boat and fallen asleep, the tide fell, and the water
filling the stern of the boat, wet their mistresses trunk of clothes.
When she discovered it, she called them up near where I was, and
compelled them to whip each other, till they all had received a severe
flogging. She standing by with a whip in her hand to see that they did
not spare each other. Their usual allowance of food was one peck of
corn per week, which was dealt out to them every first day of the
week, and such as were not there to receive their portion at the
appointed time, had to live as they could during the coming week. Each
one had the privilege of planting a small piece of ground, and raising
poultry for their own use which they generally sold, that is, such as
did improve the privilege which were but few. They had nothing allowed
them besides the corn, except one quarter of beef at Christmas which a
slave brought three miles on his head. They were allowed three days
rest at Christmas. Their clothing consisted of a pair of trowsers and
jacket, made of whitish woollen cloth called negro cloth. The women
had nothing but a petticoat, and a very short short-gown, made of the
same king of cloth. Some of the women had an old pair of shoes, but
they generally went _barefoot_. The houses for the field slaves were
about fourteen feet square, built in the coarsest manner, having but
one room, without any chimney, or flooring, with a hole at the roof at
one end to let the smoke out.

"Each one was allowed one blanket in which they rolled themselves up.
I examined their houses but could not discover any thing like a bed. I
was informed that when they had a sufficiency of potatoes the slaves
were allowed some; but the season that I was there they did not raise
more than were wanted for seed. All their corn was ground in one
hand-mill, every night just as much as was necessary for the family,
then each one his daily portion, which took considerable time in the
night. I often awoke and heard the sound of the mill. Grinding the
corn in the night, and in the dark, after their day's labor, and the
want of other food, were great hardships.

"The traveling in those parts, among the islands, was altogether with
boats, rowed by from four to ten slaves, which often stopped at our
plantation, and staid through the night, when the slaves, after rowing
through the day, were left to shift for themselves; and when they went
to Savannah with a load of cotton the were obliged to sleep in the
open boats, as the law did not allow a colored person to be out after
eight o'clock in the evening, without a pass from his master."


"The above account is from my brother, I was at work on Hilton Head
about twenty miles north of my brother, during the same winter. The
same allowance of one peck of corn for a week, the same kind of houses
to live in, and the same method of grinding their corn, and always in
the night, and in the dark, was practiced there.

"A number of instances of severe whipping came under my notice. The
first was this:--two men were sent out to saw some blocks out of large
live oak timber on which to raise my building. Their saw was in poor
order, and they sawed them badly, for which their master stripped them
naked and flogged them.

"The next instance was a boy about sixteen years of age. He had crept
into the coach to sleep; after two or three nights he was caught by
the coach driver, a _northern man_, and stripped _entirely naked_, and
whipped without mercy, his master looking on.

"Another instance. The overseer, a young white man, had ordered
several negroes a boat's crew, to be on the spot at a given time. One
man did not appear until the boat had gone. The overseer was very
angry and told him to strip and be flogged; he being slow, was told if
he did not instantly strip off his jacket, he, the overseer, would
whip it off which he did in shreds, whipping him cruelly.

"The man ran into the barrens and it was about a month before they
caught him. He was newly starved, and at last stole a turkey; then
another, and was caught.

"Having occasion to pass a plantation very early one foggy morning, in
a boat we heard the sound of the whip, before we could see, but as we
drew up in front of the plantation, we could see the negroes at work
in the field. The overseer was going from one to the other causing
them to lay down their hoe, strip off their garment, hold up their
hands and receive their number of lashes. Thus he went on from one to
the other until we were out of sight. In the course of the winter a
family came where I was, on a visit from a neighboring island; of
course, in a boat with negroes to row them--one of these a barber,
told me that he ran away about two years before, and joined a company
of negroes who had fled to the swamps. He said they suffered a great
deal--were at last discovered by a party of hunters, who fired among
them, and caused them to scatter. Himself and one more fled to the
coast, took a boat and put off to sea, a storm came on and swamped or
upset them, and his partner was drowned, he was taken up by a passing
vessel and returned to his master.


_Hudson, 12 mo. 29th_, 1838."


citizen of Beaver co. Pennsylvania, dated Jan 7, 1839.

_Chippeca Township, Beaver co. Pa. Jan._ 7, 1839.

"I send you the statement of Mr. Eleazar Powell, who was born, and has
mostly resided in this township from his birth. His character for
sobriety and truth stands above impeachment.

"With sentiments of esteem,
I am your friend,

"In the month of December, 1836, I went to the State of Mississippi to
work at my trade, (masonry and bricklaying,) and continued to work in
the counties of Adams and Jefferson, between four and five months. In
following my business I had an opportunity of seeing the treatment of
slaves in several places.

"In Adams county I built a chimney for a man named Joseph Gwatney; he
had forty-five field hands of both sexes. The field in which they
worked at that time, lay about two miles from the house; the hands had
to cook and eat their breakfast, prepare their dinner, and be in the
field at daylight, and continue there till dark. In the evening the
cotton they had picked was weighed, and if they fell short of their
task they were whipped. One night I attended the weighing--two women
fell short of their task, and the master ordered the black driver to
take them to the quarters and flog them; one of them was to receive
twenty-five lashes and pick a peck of cotton seed. I have been with
the overseer several times through the negro quarters. The huts are
generally built of split timber, some larger than rails, twelve and a
half feet wide and fourteen feet long--some with and some without
chimneys, and generally without floors; they were generally without
daubing, and mostly had split clapboards nailed on the cracks on the
outside, though some were without even that: in some there was a kind
of rough bedstead, made from rails, polished with the axe, and put
together in a very rough manner, the bottom covered with clapboards,
and over that a bundle of worn out clothes. In some huts there was no
bedstead at all. The above description applies to the places generally
with which I was acquainted, and they were mostly _old settlements._

"In the east part of Jefferson county I built a chimney for a man
named ---- M'Coy; he had forty-seven laboring hands. Near where I was
at work, M'Coy had ordered one of his slaves to set a post for a gate.
When he came to look at it, he said the slave had not set it in the
right place; and ordered him to strip, and lie down on his face;
telling him that if he struggled, or attempted to get up, two men, who
had been called to the spot, should seize and hold him fast. The slave
agreed to be quiet, and M'Coy commenced flogging him on the bare back,
with the wagon whip. After some time the sufferer attempted to get up;
one of the slaves standing by, seized him by the feet and held him
fast; upon which he yielded, and M'Coy continued to flog him ten or
fifteen minutes. When he was up, and had put on his trowsers, the
blood came through them.

"About half a mile from M'Coy's was a plantation owned by his
step-daughter. The overseer's name was James Farr, of whom it appears
Mrs. M'Coy's waiting woman was enamoured. One night, while I lived
there, M'Coy came from Natchez, about 10 o'clock at night. He said
that Dinah was gone, and wished his overseer to go with him to Farr's
lodgings. They went accordingly, one to each door, and caught Dinah as
she ran out, she was partly dressed in her mistress's clothes; M'Coy
whipped her unmercifully, and she afterwards made her escape. On the
next day, (Sabbath), M'Coy came to the overseer's, where I lodged, and
requested him and me to look for her, as he was afraid that she had
hanged herself. He then gave me the particulars of the flogging. He
stated that near Farr's he had made her strip and lie down, and had
flogged her until he was tired; that before he reached home he had a
second time made her strip, and again flogged her until he was tired;
that when he reached home he had tied her to a peach-tree, and after
getting a drink had flogged her until he was thirsty again; and while
he went to get a drink the woman made her escape. He stated that he
knew, from the whipping he had given her, there must be in her back
cuts an inch deep. He showed the place where she had been tied to the
tree; there appeared to be as much blood as if a hog had been stuck
there. The woman was found on Sabbath evening, near the sprang, and
had to be carried into the house.

"While I lived there I heard M'Coy say, if the slaves did not raise
him three hundred bales of cotton the ensuing season, he would kill
every negro he had.

"Another case of flogging came under my notice: Philip O. Hughes,
sheriff of Jefferson county, had hired a slave to a man, whose name I
do not recollect. On a Sabbath day the slave had drank somewhat
freely; he was ordered by the tavern keeper, (where his present master
had left his horse and the negro,) to stay in the kitchen; the negro
wished to be out. In persisting to go out he was knocked down three
times; and afterwards flogged until another young man and myself ran
about half a mile, having been drawn by the cries of the negro and the
sound of the whip. When we came up, a number of men that had been
about the tavern, were whipping him, and at intervals would ask him if
he would take off his clothes. At seeing them drive down the stakes
for a regular flogging he yielded, and took them off. They then
flogged him until satisfied. On the next morning I saw him, and his
pantaloons were all in a gore of blood.

"During my stay in Jefferson county, Philip O. Hughes was out one day
with his gun--he saw a negro at some distance, with a club in one hand
and an ear of corn in the other--Hughes stepped behind a tree, and
waited his approach; he supposed the negro to be a runaway, who had
escaped about nine months before from his master, living not very far
distant. The negro discovered Hughes before he came up, and started to
run; he refusing to stop, Hughes fired, and shot him through the arm.
Through loss of blood the negro was soon taken and put in jail. I saw
his wound twice dressed, and heard Hughes make the above statement.

"When in Jefferson county I boarded six weeks in Fayette, the county
town, with a tavern keeper named James Truly. He had a slave named
Lucy, who occupied the station of chamber maid and table waiter. One
day, just after dinner Mrs. Truly took Lucy and bound her arms round a
pine sapling behind the house, and commenced flogging her with a
riding-whip; and when tired would take her chair and rest. She
continued thus alternately flogging and resting, for at least an hour
and a half. I afterwards learned from the bar-keeper, and others, that
the woman's offence was that she had bought two candles to set on the
table the evening before, not knowing there were yet some in the box.
I did nor see the act of flogging above related; but it was commenced
before I left the house after dinner, and my work not being more than
twenty rods from the house, I distinctly heard the cries of the woman
all the time, and the manner of tying I had from those who did see it.

"While I boarded at Truly's, an overseer shot a negro about two miles
northwest of Fayette, belonging to a man named Hinds Stuart. I heard
Stuart himself state the particulars. It appeared that the negro's
wife fell under the overseer's displeasure, and he went to whip her.
The negro said she should not be whipped. The overseer then let her
go, and ordered him to be seized. The negro, having been a driver,
rolled the lash of his whip round his hand, and said he would not be
whipped at that time. The overseer repeated his orders. The negro took
up a hoe, and none dared to take hold of him. The overseer then went
to his coat, that he had laid off to whip the negro's wife, and took
out his pistol and shot him dead. His master ordered him to be buried
in a hole without a coffin. Stuart stated that he would not have taken
two thousand dollars for him. No punishment was inflicted on the



The following is an extract of a letter from two professional
gentlemen and their wives, who have lived for some years in a small
village in one of the slave states. They are all persons of the
highest respectability, and are well known in at least one of the New
England states. Their names are with the Executive Committee of the
American Anti-Slavery Society; but as the individuals would doubtless
be murdered by the slaveholders, if they were published, the Committee
feel sacredly bound to withhold them. The letter was addressed to a
respected clergyman in New England. The writers say:

"A man near us owned a valuable slave--his best--most faithful servant.
In a gust of passion, he struck him dead with a lever, or stick of

"During the years '36 and '37, the following transpired. A slave in
our neighborhood ran away and went to a place about thirty miles
distant. There he was found by his pursuers on horseback, and
compelled by the whip to run the distance of thirty miles. It was an
exceedingly hot day--and within a few hours after he arrived at the
end of his journey the slave was dead.

"Another slave ran away, but concluded to return. He had proceeded
some distance on his return, when he was met by a company of two or
three drivers who raced, whipped and abused him until he fell down and
expired. This took place on the Sabbath." The writer after speaking of
another murder of a slave in the neighborhood, without giving the
circumstances, say--"There is a powerful New England influence at
----" the village where they reside--"We may therefore suppose that
there would he as little of barbarian cruelty practiced there as any
where;--at least we might suppose that the average amount of cruelty
in that vicinity would be sufficiently favorable to the side of
slavery.--Describe a circle, the centre of which shall be--, the
residence of the writers, and the radius fifteen miles, and in about
one year three, and I think four slaves have been _murdered_, within
that circle, under circumstances of horrid cruelty.--What must have
been the amount of murder in the whole slave territory? The whole
south is rife with the crime of separating husbands and wives, parents
and children."


Mr. IDE is a respected member of the Baptist Church in Sheffield,
Caledonia county, Vt.; and recently the Postmaster in that town. He
spent a few months at the south in the years 1837 and 8. In a letter
to the Rev. Wm. Scales of Lyndon, Vt. written a few weeks since, Mr.
Ide writes as follows.

"In answering the proposed inquiries, I will say first, that although
there are various other modes resorted to, whipping with the cowskin
is the usual mode of inflicting punishment on the poor slave. I have
never actually witnessed a whipping scene, for they are usually taken
into some back place for that purpose; but I have often heard their
groans and screams while writhing under the lash; and have seen the
blood flow from their torn and lacerated skins after the vengeance of
the inhuman master or mistress had been glutted. You ask if the woman
where I boarded whipped a slave to death. I can give you the
particulars of the transaction as they were related to me. My
informant was a gentleman--a member of the Presbyterian church in
Massachusetts--who the winter before boarded where I did. He said that
Mrs. T---- had a female slave whom she used to whip unmercifully, and on
one occasion, she whipped her as long as she had strength, and after
the poor creature was suffered to go, she crawled off into a cellar.
As she did not immediately return, search was made, and she was found
dead in the cellar, and the horrid deed was kept a secret in the
family, and it was reported that she died of sickness. This wretch at
the same time was a member of a Presbyterian church. Towards her
slaves she was certainly the most cruel wretch of any woman with whom
I was ever acquainted--yet she was nothing more than a slaveholder.
She would deplore slavery as much as I did, and often told me she was
much of an abolitionist as I was. She was constant in the declaration
that her kind treatment to her slaves was proverbial. Thought I, then
the Lord have mercy on the rest. She has often told me of the cruel
treatment of the slaves on a plantation adjoining her father's in the
low country of South Carolina. She says she has often seen them driven
to the necessity of eating frogs and lizards to sustain life. As to
the mode of living generally, my information is rather limited, being
with few exceptions confined to the different families where I have
boarded. My stopping places at the south have mostly been in cities.
In them the slaves are better fed and clothed than on plantations. The
house servants are fed on what the families leave. But they are kept
short, and I think are oftener whipped for stealing something to eat
than any other crime. On plantations their food is principally
hommony, as the southerners call it. It is simply cracked corn boiled.
This probably constitutes seven-eights of their living. The
house-servants in cities are generally decently clothed, and some
favorite ones are richly dressed, but those on the plantations,
especially in their dress, if it can be called dress, exhibit the most
haggard and squalid appearance. I have frequently seen those of both
sexes more than two-thirds naked. I have seen from forty to sixty,
male and female, at work in a field, many of both sexes with their
bodies entirely naked--who did not exhibit signs of shame more than
cattle. As I did not go among them much on the plantations, I have
had but few opportunities for examining the backs of slaves--but have
frequently passed where they were at work, and been occasionally
present with them, and in almost every case there were marks of
violence on some parts of them--every age, sex and condition being
liable to the whip. A son of the gentleman with whom I boarded, a
young man about twenty-one years of age, had a plantation and eight or
ten slaves. He used to boast almost every night of whipping some of
them. One day he related to me a case of whipping an old negro--I
should judge sixty years of age. He said he called him up to flog him
for some real or supposed offence, and the poor old man, being pious,
asked the privilege of praying before he received his punishment. He
said he granted him the favor, and to use his own expression, 'The old
nigger knelt down and prayed for me, and then got up and took his
whipping.' In relation to negro huts, I will say that planters usually
own large tracts of land. They have extensive clearings and a
beautiful mansion house--and generally some forty or fifty rods from
the dwelling are situated the negro cabins, or huts, built of logs in
the rudest manner. Some consist of poles rolled up together and
covered with mud or clay--many of them not as comfortable as northern


MR. SMITH is now pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Centreville,
Allegany county, N.Y. He has recently returned from a residence in the
slave states, and the American slave holding settlements in Texas. The
following is an extract of a letter lately received from him.

"You inquire respecting instances of cruelty that have come within my
knowledge. I reply. Avarice and cruelty constitute the very gist of
the whole slave system. Many of the enormities committed upon the
plantations will not be described till God brings to light the hidden
things of darkness, then the tears and groans and blood of innocent
men, women and children will be revealed, and the oppressor's spirit
must confront that of his victim.

"I will relate a case of _torture_ which occurred on the Brassos while
I resided a few miles distant upon the Chocolate Bayou. The case
should be remembered as a true illustration of the nature of slavery,
as it exists at the south. The facts are these. An overseer by the
name of Alexander, notorious for his cruelty, was found dead in the
timbered lands of the Brassos. It was supposed that he was murdered,
but who perpetrated the act was unknown. Two black men were however
seized, taken into the Prairie and put to the torture. A physician by
the name of Parrott from Tennessee, and another from New England by
the name of Anson Jones, were present on this occasion. The latter
gentleman is now the Texan minister plenipotentiary to the United
States, and resides at Washington. The unfortunate slaves being
stripped, and all things arranged, the torture commenced by whipping
upon their bare backs. Six athletic men were employed in this scene of
inhumanity, the names of some of whom I well remember. There was one
of the name of Brown, and one or two of the name of Patton. Those six
executioners were successively employed in cutting up the bodies of
these defenceless slaves, who persisted to the last in the avowal of
their innocence. The bloody whip was however kept in motion till
savage barbarity itself was glutted. When this was accomplished, the
bleeding victims were re-conveyed to the inclosure of the mansion
house where they were deposited for a few moments. '_The dying groans
however incommoding the ladies, they were taken to a back shed where
one of them soon expired_.'[13] The life of the other slave was for a
time despaired of, but after hanging over the grave for months, he at
length so far recovered as to walk about and labor at light work.
These facts _cannot be controverted_. They were disclosed under the
solemnity of an oath, at Columbia, in a court of justice. I was
present, and shall never forget them. The testimony of Drs. Parrott
and Jones was most appalling. I seem to hear the death-groans of that
murdered man. His cries for mercy and protestations of innocence fell
upon adamantine hearts. The facts above stated, and others in relation
to this scene of cruelty came to light in the following manner. The
master of the murdered man commenced legal process against the actors
in this tragedy for the _recovery of the value of the chattel_, as one
would institute a suit for a horse or an ox that had been unlawfully
killed. It was a suit for the recovery of _damages_ merely. No
_indictment_ was even dreamed of. Among the witnesses brought upon the
stand in the progress of this cause were the physicians, Parrott and
Jones above named. The part which they were called to act in this
affair was, it is said, to examine the pulse of the victims during the
process of _torture_. But they were mistaken as to the quantum of
torture which a human being can undergo and not die under it. Can it
be believed that one of these physicians was born and educated in the
land of the pilgrims? Yes, in my own native New England. It is even
so! The stone-like apathy manifested at the trial of the above cause,
and the screams and the death-groans of an innocent man, as developed
by the testimony of the witnesses, can never be obliterated from my
memory. They form an era in my life, a point to which I look back with

[Footnote 13: The words of Dr. Parrott, a witness on the trial hereafter
referred to.]

"Another case of cruelty occurred on the San Bernard near Chance
Prairie, where I resided for some time. The facts were these. A slave
man fled from his master, (Mr. Sweeny) and being closely _pursued_ by
the overseer and a son of the owner, he stepped a few yards in the
Bernard and placed himself upon a root, from which there was no
possibility of his escape, for he could not swim. In this situation he
was fired upon with a blunderbuss loaded heavily with ball and grape
shot. The overseer who shot the gun was at a distance of a few feet
only. The charge entered the body of the negro near the groin. He was
conveyed to the plantation, lingered in inexpressible agony a few days
and expired. A physician was called, but medical and surgical skill
was unavailing. No notice whatever was taken of this murder by the
public authorities, and the murderer was not discharged from the
service of his employer.

"When slaves flee, as they not unfrequently do, to the timbered lands
of Texas, they are hunted with guns and dogs.

"The sufferings of the slave not unfrequently drive him to despair and
suicide. At a plantation on the San Bernard, where there were but five
slaves, two during the same year committed suicide by drowning."


Mr. Bliss is a highly respectable member of the bar, in Elyria, Lorain
Co. Ohio, and member of the Presbyterian church, in that place. He
resided in Florida, during the years 1834 and 5.

The following extracts are from letters, written by Mr. B. in 1835,
while residing on a plantation near Tallahassee, and published soon
after in the Ohio Atlas; also from letters written in 1836 and
published in the New York Evangelist.

"In speaking of slavery as it is, I hardly know where to begin. The
physical condition of the slave is far from being accurately known at
the north. Gentlemen _traveling_ in the south can know nothing of it.
They must make the south their residence; they must live on
plantations, before they can have any opportunity of judging of the
slave. I resided in Augustine five months, and had I not made
_particular_ inquiries, which most northern visitors very seldom or
never do, I should have left there with the impression that the slaves
were generally very _well_ treated, and were a happy people. Such is
the report of many northern travelers who have no more opportunity of
knowing their real condition than if they had remained at home. What
confidence could we place in the reports of the traveler, relative to
the condition of the Irish peasantry, who formed his opinion from the
appearance of the waiters at a Dublin hotel, or the household servants
of a country gentleman? And it is not often on plantations even, that
_strangers_ can witness the punishment of the slave. I was conversing
the other day with a neighboring planter, upon the brutal treatment of
the slaves which I had witnessed: he remarked, that had I been with
him I should not have seen this. "When I whip niggers, I take them out
of sight and hearing." Such being the difficulties in the way of a
stranger's ascertaining the treatment of the slaves, it is not to be
wondered at that gentlemen, of undoubted veracity, should give
directly false statements relative to it. But facts cannot lie, and in
giving these I confine myself to what has come under my own personal

"The negroes commence labor by daylight in the morning, and, excepting
the plowboys, who must feed and rest their horses, do not leave the
field till dark in the evening. There is a good deal of contention
among planters, who shall make the most cotton to the hand, or, who
shall drive their negroes the hardest; and I have heard bets made and
staked upon the issue of the crops. Col. W. was boasting of his large
crops, and swore that 'he made for his force, the largest crops in the
country.' He was disputed of course. On riding home in company with
Mr. C. the conversation turned upon Col. W. My companion remarked,
that though Col. W. had the reputation of making a large crop, yet he
could beat him himself, and did do it the last year. I remarked that I
considered it no honor to _Col. W_. to drive his slaves to death to
make a large crop. I have heard no more about large crops from him
since. Drivers or overseers usually drive the slaves worse than
masters.--Their reputation for good overseers depends in a great
measure upon the crops they make, and the death of a slave is no loss
to them.

"Of the extent and cruelty of the punishment of the slave, the
northern public know nothing. From the nature of the case they can
know little, as I have before mentioned.

"I _have seen_ a woman, a mother, compelled, in the presence of her
master and mistress, _to hold up her clothes_, and endure the whip of
the driver on the naked body for more than _twenty minutes_, and while
her cries would have rent the heart of any one, who had not hardened
himself to human suffering. Her master and mistress were conversing
with apparent indifference. What was her crime? She had a task given
her of sewing which she _must finish_ that day. Late at night she
finished it; but _the stitches were too long_, and she must be
whipped. The same was repeated three or four nights for the same
offence. _I have seen_ a man tied to a tree, hands and feet, and
receive 305 blows with the paddle[14] on the fleshy parts of the body.
Two others received the same kind of punishment at the time, though I
did not count the blows. One received 230 lashes. Their crime was
stealing mutton. I have _frequently_ heard the shrieks of the slaves,
male and female, accompanied by the strokes of the paddle or whip,
when I have not gone near the scene of horror. I knew not their
crimes, excepting of one woman, which was stealing _four potatoes_ to
eat with her bread! The more common number of lashes inflicted was
fifty or eighty; and this I saw not once or twice, but so frequently
that I can not tell the number of times I have seen it. So frequently,
that my own heart was becoming so hardened that I could witness with
comparative indifference, the female writhe under the lash, and her
shrieks and cries for mercy ceased to pierce my heart with that
keenness, or give me that anguish which they first caused. It was not
always that I could learn their crimes; but of those I did learn, the
most common was non-performance of tasks. I have seen men strip and
receive from one to three hundred strokes of the whip and paddle. My
studies and meditations were almost nightly interrupted by the cries
of the victims of cruelty and avarice. Tom, a slave of Col. N.
obtained permission of his overseer on Sunday, to visit his son, on a
neighboring plantation, belonging in part to his master, but neglected
to take a "pass." Upon its being demanded by the other overseer, he
replied that he had permission to come, and that his having a mule was
sufficient evidence of it, and if he did not consider it as such, he
could take him up. The overseer replied he would take him up; giving
him at the same time a blow on the arm with a stick he held in his
hand, sufficient to lame it for some time. The negro collared him, and
threw him; and on the overseer's commanding him to submit to be tied
and whipped, he said he would not be whipped by _him_ but would leave
it to massa J. They came to massa J.'s. I was there. After the
overseer had related the case as above, he was blamed for not shooting
or stabbing him at once.--After dinner the negro was tied, and the
whip given to the overseer, and he used it with a severity that was
shocking. I know not how many lashes were given, but from his
shoulders to his heels there was not a spot unridged! and at almost
every stroke the blood flowed. He could not have received less than
300, _well laid on_. But his offence was great, almost the greatest
known, laying hands on a _white_ man! Had he struck the overseer,
under any provocation, he would have been in some way disfigured,
perhaps by the loss of his ears, in addition to a whipping: or he
might have been hung. The most common cause of punishments is, not
finishing tasks.

[Footnote 14: A piece of oak timber two and a half feet long, flat and
wide at one end.]

"But it would be tedious mentioning further particulars. The negro has
no other inducement to work but the _lash_; and as man never acts
without motive, the lash must be used so long as all other motives are
withheld. Hence corporeal punishment is a necessary part of slavery.

"Punishments for runaways are usually severe. Once whipping is not
sufficient. I have known runaways to be whipped for six or seven
nights in succession for one offence. I have known others who, with
pinioned hands, and a chain extending from an iron collar on their
neck, to the saddle of their master's horse, have been driven at a
smart trot, one or two hundred miles, being compelled to ford water
courses, their drivers, according to their own confession, not abating
a whit in the rapidity of their journey for the case of the slave. One
tied a kettle of sand to his slave to render his journey more arduous.

"Various are the instruments of torture devised to keep the slave in
subjection. The stocks are sometimes used. Sometimes blocks are filled
with pegs and nails, and the slave compelled to stand upon them.

"While stopping on the plantation of a Mr. C. I saw a whip with a
knotted lash lying on the table, and inquired of my companion, who was
also an acquaintance of Mr. C's, if he used that to whip his negroes?
"Oh," says he, "Mr. C. is not severe with his hands. He never whips
very hard. The _knots in the lash are so large_ that he does not
usually draw blood in whipping them."

"It was principally from hearing the conversation of southern men on
the subject, that I judge of the cruelty that is generally practiced
toward slaves. They will deny that slaves are generally ill treated;
but ask them if they are not whipped for certain offences, which
either a freeman would have no temptation to commit, or which would
not be an offence in any but a slave, and for non-performance of
tasks, they will answer promptly in the affirmative. And frequently
have I heard them excuse their cruelty by citing Mr. A. or Mr. B. who
is a Christian, or Mr. C. a preacher, or Mr. D. from the _north_, who
"drives his hands tighter, and whips them harder, than we ever do."
Driving negroes to the utmost extent of their ability, with
occasionally a hundred lashes or more, and a few switchings in the
field if they hang back in the driving seasons, viz: in the hoing and
picking months, is perfectly consistent with good treatment!

"While traveling across the Peninsula in a stage, in company with a
northern gentleman, and southern lady, of great worth and piety, a
dispute arose respecting the general treatment of slaves, the
gentleman contending that their treatment was generally good--'O, no!'
interrupted the lady, 'you can know nothing of the treatment they
receive on the plantations. People here do whip the poor negroes most
cruelly, and many half starve them. You have neither of you had
opportunity to know scarcely anything of the cruelties that are
practiced in this country,' and more to the same effect. I met with
several others, besides this lady, who appeared to feel for the sins
of the land, but they are few and scattered, and not usually of
sufficiently stern mould to withstand the popular wave.

"Masters are not forward to publish their "domestic regulations," and
as neighbors are usually several miles apart, one's observation must
be limited. Hence the few instances of cruelty which break out can be
but a fraction of what is practised. A planter, a professor of
religion, in conversation upon the universality of whipping, remarked
that a planter in G--, who had whipped a great deal, at length got
tired of it, and invented the following _excellent_ method of
punishment, which I saw practised while I was paying him a visit. The
negro was placed in a sitting position, with his hands made fast above
his head, and feet in the stocks, so that he could not move any part
of the body.

"The master retired, intending to leave him till morning, but we were
awakened in the night by the groans of the negro, which were so
doleful that we feared he was dying. We went to him, and found him
covered with a cold sweat, and almost gone. He could not have lived an
hour longer. Mr. ---- found the 'stocks' such an effective punishment,
that it almost superseded the whip."

"How much do you give your niggers for a task while hoeing cotton,"
inquired Mr. C---- of his neighbor Mr. H----."

H. "I give my men an acre and a quarter, and my women an acre."[15]

[Footnote 15: Cotton is planted in drills about three feet apart, and
is hilled like corn.]

C. "Well, that is a fair task. Niggers do a heap better if they are
drove pretty tight."

H. "O yes, I have driven mine into complete subordination. When I
first bought them they were discontented and wished me to sell them,
but I soon whipped _that_ out of them; and they now work very

C. "Does Mary keep up with the rest?"

H. "No, she does'nt often finish the task alone, she has to get Sam to
help her out after he has done his, _to save her a whipping_. There's
no other way but to be severe with them."

C. "No other, sir, if you favor a nigger you spoil him."

"The whip is considered as necessary on a plantation as the plough;
and its use is almost as common. The negro whip is the common
teamster's whip with a black leather stock, and a short, fine, knotted
lash. The paddle is also frequently used, sometimes with holes bored
in the flattened end. The ladies (!) in chastising their domestic
servants, generally use the cowhide. I have known some use shovel and
tongs. It is, however, more common to commit them to the driver to be
whipped. The manner of whipping is as follows: The negro is tied by
his hands, and sometimes feet, to a post or tree, and stripped to the
skin. The female slave is not always tied. The number of lashes
depends upon the character for severity of the master or overseer.

"Another instrument of torture is sometimes used, how extensively I
know not. The negro, or, in the case which came to my knowledge, the
negress was compelled to stand barefoot upon a block filled with sharp
pegs and nails for two or three hours. In case of sickness, if the
master or overseer thinks them seriously ill, they are taken care of,
but their complaints are usually not much heeded. A physician told me
that he was employed by a planter last winter to go to a plantation of
his in the country, as many of the negroes were sick. Says he--"I
found them in a most miserable condition. The weather was cold, and
the negroes were barefoot, with hardly enough of _cotton_ clothing to
cover their nakedness. Those who had huts to shelter them were obliged
to build them nights and Sundays. Many were sick and some had died. I
had the sick taken to an older plantation of their masters, where they
could be made comfortable, and they recovered. I directed that they
should not go to work till after sunrise, and should not work in the
rain till their health became established. But the overseer refusing
to permit it, I declined attending on them farther. I was called,'
continued he, 'by the overseer of another plantation to see one of the
men. I found him lying by the side of a log in great pain. I asked him
how he did, 'O,' says he, 'I'm most dead, can live but little longer.'
How long have you been sick? I've felt for more than six weeks as
though I could hardly stir.' Why didn't you tell your master, you was
sick? 'I couldn't see my master, and the overseer always whips us when
we complain, I could not stand a whipping.' I did all I could for the
poor fellow, but his _lungs were rotten_. He died in three days from
the time he left off work.' The cruelty of that overseer is such that
the negroes almost tremble at his name. Yet he gets a high salary, for
he makes the largest crop of any other man in the neighborhood, though
none but the hardiest negroes can stand it under him. "That man," says
the Doctor, "would be hung in my country." He was a German."


REV. WILLIAM SCALES, of Lyndon, Vermont, has furnished the following
testimony, under date of Dec. 15, 1838.

"I send you an extract from a letter that I have just received, which
you may use _ad libitum_. The letter is from Rev. Wm. A. Chapin,
Greensborough, Vermont. To one who is acquainted with Mr. C. his
opinion and statements must carry conviction even to the most
obstinate and incredulous. He observes, 'I resided, as a teacher,
nearly two years in the family of Carroll Webb, Esq., of Hampstead,
New Kent co. about twenty miles from Richmond, Virginia. Mr. Webb had
three or four plantations, and was considered one of the two
wealthiest men in the county: it was supposed he owned about two
hundred slaves. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and was
elected an elder while I was with him. He was a native of Virginia,
but a graduate of a New-England college.

"The slaves were called in the morning before daylight, I believe at
all seasons of the year, that they might prepare their food, and be
ready to go to work as soon as it was light enough to see. I know that
at the season of husking corn, October and November, they were usually
compelled to work late--till 12 or 1 o'clock at night. I know this
fact because they accompanied their work with a loud singing of their
own sort. I usually retired to rest between 11 and 12 o'clock, and
generally heard them at their work as long as I was awake. The slaves
lived in wretched log cabins, of one room each, without floors or
windows. I believe the slaves sometimes suffer for want of food. One
evening, as I was sitting in the parlor with Mr. W. one of the most
resolute of the slaves came to the door, and said, "Master, I am
willing to work for you, but I want something to eat." The only reply
was, "Clear yourself." I learned that the slaves had been without food
all day, because the man who was sent to mill could not obtain his
grinding. He went again the next day, and obtained his grist, and the
slaves had no food till he returned. He had to go about five

[Footnote 16: To this, Rev. Mr. Scales adds, "In familiar language, and
in more detail, as I have learned it in conversation with Mr. Chapin,
the fact is as follows:--

"Mr. W. kept, what he called a 'boy,' i.e. a _man_, to go to mill. It
was his custom not to give his slaves anything to eat while he was
gone to mill--let him have been gone longer or shorter--for this
reason, if he was lazy, and delayed, the slaves would become hungry:
hence indignant, and abuse him--this was his punishment. On that
occasion he went to mill in the morning. The slaves came up at noon,
and returned to work without food. At night, after having worked hard
all day, without food, went to bed without supper. About 10 o'clock
the next day, they came up in a company, to their master's door, (that
master an elder in the church), and deputed one more resolute than the
rest to address him. This he did in the most respectful tones and
terms. "We are willing to work for you, master, but we can't work
without food; we want something to eat." "Clear yourself," was the
answer. The slaves retired; and in the morning were driven away to
work without food. At noon, I think, or somewhat after, they were

"I know the slaves were sometimes severely whipped. I saw the backs of
several which had numerous scars, evidently caused by long and deep
lacerations of the whip; and I have good reason to believe that the
slaves were generally in that condition; for I never saw the back of
one exposed that was not thus marked,--and from their tattered and
scanty clothing their backs were often exposed."


This testimony is communicated in a letter from Mr. Cyrus Pierce, a
respectable and well known citizen of Nantucket, Mass. Of the
witnesses, Messrs. T.D.M. and F.C. Macy, Mr. Pierce says, "They are
both inhabitants of this island, and have resided at the south; they
are both worthy men, for whose integrity and intelligence I can vouch
unqualifiedly; the former has furnished me with the following

"During the winter of 1832-3, I resided on the island of St. Simon,
Glynn county, Georgia. There are several extensive cotton plantations
on the island. The overseer of the plantation on that part of the
island where I resided was a Georgian--a man of stern character, and
at times _cruelly abusive_ to his slaves. I have often been witness of
the _abuse_ of his power. In South Carolina and Georgia, on the low
lands, the cultivation is chiefly of rice. The land where it is raised
is often inundated, and the labor of preparing it, and raising a crop,
is very arduous. Men and women are in the field from earliest dawn to
dark--often _without hats_, and up to their arm-pits in mud and water.
At St. Simon's, cotton was the staple article. Ocra, the driver,
usually waited on the overseer to receive orders for the succeeding
day. If any slave was insolent, or negligent, the driver was
authorized to punish him with the whip, with as many blows as the
magnitude of the crime justified. He was frequently cautioned, upon
the peril of his skin, to see that all the negroes were off to the
field in the morning. 'Ocra,' said the overseer, one evening, to the
driver, 'if any pretend to be sick, send me word--allow no lazy wench
or fellow to skulk in the negro house.' Next morning, a few minutes
after the departure of the hands to the field, Ocra was seen hastening
to the house of the overseer. He was soon in his presence. 'Well, Ocra,
what now?' 'Nothing, sir, only Rachel says she sick--can't go to de
field to-day.' 'Ah, sick, is she? I'll see to her; you may be off. She
shall see if I am longer to be fooled with in this way. Here,
Christmas, mix these salts--bring them to me at the negro house.' And
seizing his whip, he made off to the negro settlement. Having a strong
desire to see what would be the result, I followed him. As I
approached the negro house, I heard high words. Rachel was stating her
complaint--children were crying from fright--and the overseer
threatening. Rachel.--'I can't work to-day--I'm sick!' Overseer.--'But
you shall work, if you die for it. Here, take these salts. Now move
off--quick--let me see your face again before night, and, by G--d,
you shall smart for it. Be off--no begging--not a word;'--and he
dragged her from the house, and followed her 20 or 30 rods,
threatening. The woman did not reach the field. Overcome by the
exertion of walking, and by agitation, she sunk down exhausted by the
road side--was taken up, and carried back to the house, where an
_abortion_ occurred, and her life was greatly jeoparded.

"It was _no uncommon_ sight to see a whole family, father, mother, and
from two to five children, collected together around their piggin of
hommony, or pail of potatoes, watched by the overseer. One meal was
always eaten in the field. No time was allowed for relaxation.

"It was not unusual for a child of five or six years to perform the
office of nurse--because the mother worked in a remote part of the
field, and was not allowed to leave her employment to take care of her
infant. Want of proper nutriment induces sickness of the worst type.

"No matter what the nature of the service, a peck of corn, dealt out
on Sunday, must supply the demands of nature for a week.

"The Sabbath, on a southern plantation, is a mere nominal holiday. The
slaves are liable to be called upon at all times, by those who have
authority over them.

"When it rained, the slaves were allowed to collect under a tree until
the shower had passed. Seldom, on a week day, were they permitted to
go to their huts during rain; and even had this privilege been
granted, many of those miserable habitations were in so dilapidated a
condition, that they would afford little or no protection. Negro huts
are built of logs, covered with boards or thatch, having _no
flooring_, and but one apartment, serving all the purposes of
sleeping, cooking, &c. Some are furnished with a temporary loft. I
have seen a whole family herded together in a loft ten feet by twelve.
In cold weather, they gather around the fire, spread their blankets
_on the ground_, and keep as comfortable as they can. Their supply of
clothing is scanty--each slave being allowed a Holland coat and
pantaloons, of the coarsest manufacture, and one pair of cowhide
shoes. The women, enough of the same kind of cloth for one frock. They
have also one pair of shoes. Shoes are given to the slaves in the
winter only. In summer, their clothing is composed of osnaburgs.
Slaves on different plantations are not allowed without a written
permission, to visit their fellow bondsmen, under penalty of severe
chastisement. I witnessed the chastisement of a young male slave, who
was found lurking about the plantation, and could give no other
account of himself, than that he wanted to visit some of his
acquaintance. Fifty lashes was the penalty for this offence. I could
not endure the dreadful shrieks of the tortured slave, and rushed away
front the scene."

The remainder of this testimony is furnished by Mr. F.C. Macy.

"I went to Savannah in 1820. Sailing up the river, I had my first view
of slavery. A large number of men and women, with _a piece of board on
their heads, carrying mud_, for the purpose of dyking, near the river.
After tarrying a while in Savannah, I went down to the sea islands of
De Fuskee and Hilton Head, where I spent six months. Negro houses are
small, built of rough materials, _and no floor_. Their clothing, (one
suit,) coarse; which they received on Christmas day. Their food was
three pecks of potatoes per week, in the potatoe season, and one peck
of corn the remainder of the year. The slaves carried with them into
the field their meal, and a gourd of water. They cooked their hommony
in the field, and ate it with a wooden paddle. Their treatment was
little better than that of brutes. _Whipping_ was nearly an every-day
practice. On Mr. M----'s plantation, at the island De Fuskee, I saw an
old man whipped; he was about 60. He had no clothing on, except a
shirt. The man that inflicted the blows was Flim, a tall and stout
man. The whipping was _very severe_. I inquired into the cause. Some
vegetables had been stolen from his master's garden, of which he could
give no account. I saw several women whipped, some of whom were in
very _delicate_ circumstances. The case of one I will relate. She had
been purchased in Charleston, and separated from her husband. On her
passage to Savannah, or rather to the island, she was delivered of a
child; and in about three weeks after this, she appeared to be
deranged. She would leave her work, go into the woods, and sing. Her
master sent for her, and ordered the driver to whip her. I was near
enough to hear the strokes.

"I have known negro boys, partly by persuasion, and partly by force,
made to strip off their clothing and fight for _the amusement of their
masters_. They would fight until both got to crying.

"One of the planters told me that his boat had been used without
permission. A number of his negroes were called up, and put in a
building that was lathed and shingled. The covering could be easily
removed from the inside. He called one out for examination. While
examining this one, he discovered another negro, coming out of the
roof. He ordered him back: he obeyed. In a few moments he attempted it
again. The master took deliberate aim at his head, but his gun missed
fire. He told me he should probably have killed him, had his gun gone
off. The negro jumped and run. The master took aim again, and fired;
but he was so far distant, that he received only a few shots in the
calf of his leg. After several days he returned, and received a severe

"Mr. B----, planter at Hilton Head, freely confessed, that he kept one
of his slaves as a mistress. She slept in the same room with him.
This, I think, is a very common practice."


The following letter was written to Mr. ARTHUR TAPPAN, of New York, in
the summer of 1833. As the name of the writer cannot be published with
safety to himself, it is withheld.

The following testimonials, from Mr. TAPPAN, Professor WRIGHT, and
THOMAS RITTER, M.D. of New York, establish the trust-worthiness and
high respectability of the writer.

"I received the following letters from the south during the year 1833.
They were written by a gentleman who had then resided some years in
the slave states. Not being at liberty to give the writer's name, I
cheerfully certify that he is a gentleman of established character, a
graduate of Yale College, and a respected minister of the gospel.


"My acquaintance with the writer of the following letter commenced, I
believe, in 1823, from which time we were fellow students in Yale
College till 1826. I have occasionally seen him since. His character,
so far as it has come within my knowledge, has been that of an upright
and remarkably _candid_ man. I place great confidence both in his
habits of careful and unprejudiced observation and his veracity.

"E. WRIGHT, jun. New York, April 13, 1839."

"I have been acquainted with the writer of the following letter about
twelve years, and know him to be a gentleman of high respectability,
integrity, and piety. We were fellow students in Yale College, and my
opportunities for judging of his character, both at that time and
since our graduation, have been such, that I feel myself fully
warranted in making the above unequivocal declaration.

"THOMAS RITTER. 104, Cherry-street, New York."

"NATCHEZ, 1833.

"It has been almost four years since I came to the south-west; and
although I have been told, from month to month, that I should soon
wear off my northern prejudices, and probably have slaves of my own,
yet my judgment in regard to oppression, or my prejudices, if they are
pleased so to call them, remain with me still. I judge still from
those principles which were fixed in my mind at the north; and a
residence at the south has not enabled me so to pervert truth, as to
make injustice appear justice.

"I have studied the state of things here, now for years, coolly and
deliberately, with the eye of an uninterested looker on; and hence I
may not be altogether unprepared to state to you some facts, and to
draw conclusions from them.

"Permit me then to relate what I have seen; and do not imagine that
these are all exceptions to the general treatment, but rather believe
that thousands of cruelties are practised in this Christian land,
every year, which no eye that ever shed a tear of pity could look

"Soon after my arrival I made an excursion into the country, to the
distance of some twenty miles. And as I was passing by a cotton field,
where about fifty negroes were at work, I was inclined to stop by the
road side to view a scene which was then new to me. While I was, in my
mind, comparing this mode of labor with that of my own native place, I
heard the driver, with a rough oath, order one that was near him, who
seemed to be laboring to the extent of his power, to "lie down." In a
moment he was obeyed; and he commenced whipping the offender upon his
naked back, and continued, to the amount of about twenty lashes, with
a heavy raw-hide whip, the crack of which might have been heard more
than half a mile. Nor did the females escape; for although I stopped
scarcely fifteen minutes, no less than three were whipped in the same
manner, and that so severely, I was strongly inclined to interfere.

"You may be assured, sir, that I remained not unmoved: I could no
longer look on such cruelty, but turned away and rode on, while the
echoes of the lash were reverberating in the woods around me. Such
scenes have long since become familiar to me. But then the full effect
was not lost; and I shall never forget, to my latest day, the mingled
feelings of pity, horror, and indignation that took possession of my
mind. I involuntarily exclaimed, O God of my fathers, how dost thou
permit such things to defile our land! Be merciful to us! and visit us
not in justice, for all our iniquities and the iniquities of our

"As I passed on I soon found that I had escaped from one horrible
scene only to witness another. A planter with whom I was well
acquainted, had caught a negro without a pass. And at the moment I was
passing by, he was in the act of fastening his feet and hands to the
trees, having previously made him take off all his clothing except his
trowsers. When he had sufficiently secured this poor creature, he beat
him for several minutes with a green switch more than six feet long;
while he was writhing with anguish, endeavoring in vain to break the
cords with which he was bound, and incessantly crying out, "Lord,
master! do pardon me this time! do, master, have mercy!" These
expressions have recurred to me a thousand times since; and although
they came from one that is not considered among the sons of men, yet I
think they are well worthy of remembrance, as they might lead a wise
man to consider whether such shall receive mercy from the righteous
Judge, as never showed mercy to their fellow men.

"At length I arrived at the dwelling of a planter of my acquaintance,
with whom I passed the night. At about eight o'clock in the evening I
heard the barking of several dogs, mingled with the most agonizing
cries that I ever heard from any human being. Soon after the gentleman
came in, and began to apologize, by saying that two of his runaway
slaves had just been brought home; and as he had previously tried
every species of punishment upon them without effect, he knew not what
else to add, except to set his blood hounds upon them. 'And,'
continued he, 'one of them has been so badly bitten that he has been
trying to die. I am only sorry that he did not; for then I should not
have been further troubled with him. If he lives I intend to send him
to Natchez or to New Orleans, to work with the ball and chain.'

"From this last remark I understood that private individuals have the
right of thus subjecting their unmanageable slaves. I have since seen
numbers of these 'ball and chain' men, both in Natchez and New
Orleans, but I do not know whether there were any among them except
the state convicts.

"As the summer was drawing towards a close, and the yellow fever
beginning to prevail in town, I went to reside some months in the
country. This was the cotton picking season, during which, the
planters say, there is a greater necessity for flogging than at any
other time. And I can assure you, that as I have sat in my window
night after night, while the cotton was being weighed, I have heard
the crack of the whip, without much intermission, for a whole hour,
from no less than three plantations, some of which were a full mile

"I found that the slaves were kept in the field from daylight until
dark; and then, if they had not gathered what the master or overseer
thought sufficient, they were subjected to the lash.

"Many by such treatment are induced to run away and take up their
lodging in the woods. I do not say that all who run away are thus
closely pressed, but I do know that many are; and I have known no less
than a dozen desert at a time from the same plantation, in consequence
of the overseer's forcing them to work to the extent of their power,
and then whipping them for not having done more.

"But suppose that they run away--what is to become of them in the
forest? If they cannot steal they must perish of hunger--if the nights
are cold, their feet will be frozen; for if they make a fire they may
be discovered, and be shot at. If they attempt to leave the country,
their chance of success is about nothing. They must return, be
whipped--if old offenders, wear the collar, perhaps be branded, and
fare worse than before.

"Do you believe it, sir, not six months since, I saw a number of my
_Christian_ neighbors packing up provisions, as I supposed for a deer
hunt; but as I was about offering myself to the party, I learned that
their powder and balls were destined to a very different purpose: it
was, in short, the design of the party to bring home a number of
runaway slaves, or to shoot them if they should not be able to get
possession of them in any other way.

"You will ask, Is not this murder? Call it, sir, by what name you
please, such are the facts:--many are shot every year, and that too
while the masters say they treat their slaves well.

"But let me turn your attention to another species of cruelty. About a
year since I knew a certain slave who had deserted his master, to be
caught, and for the first time fastened to the stocks. In those same
stocks, from which at midnight I have heard cries of distress, while
the master slept, and was dreaming, perhaps, of drinking wine and of
discussing the price of cotton. On the next morning he was chained in
an immovable posture, and branded in both cheeks with red hot stamps
of iron. Such are the tender mercies of men who love wealth, and are
determined to obtain it at any price.

"Suffer me to add another to the list of enormities, and I will not
offend you with more.

"There was, some time since, brought to trial in this town a planter
residing about fifteen miles distant, for whipping his slave to death.
You will suppose, of course, that he was punished. No, sir, he was
acquitted, although there could be no doubt of the fact. I heard the
tale of murder from a man who was acquainted with all the
circumstances. 'I was,' said he, 'passing along the road near the
burying-ground of the plantation, about nine o'clock at night, when I
saw several lights gleaming through the woods; and as I approached, in
order to see what was doing, I beheld the coroner of Natchez, with a
number of men, standing around the body of a young female, which by
the torches seemed almost perfectly white. On inquiry I learned that
the master had so unmercifully beaten this girl that she died under
the operation: and that also he had so severely punished another of
his slaves that he was but just alive.'"

We here rest the case for the present, so far as respects the
presentation of facts showing the condition of the slaves, and proceed
to consider the main objections which are usually employed to weaken
such testimony, or wholly to set it aside. But before we enter upon
the examination of specific objections, and introductory to them, we

1. That the system of slavery must be a system of horrible cruelty,
follows of necessity, from the fact that two millions seven hundred
thousand human beings _are held by force_, and used as articles of
property. Nothing but a heavy yoke, and an iron one, could possibly
keep so many necks in the dust. That must be a constant and mighty
pressure which holds so still such a vast army; nothing could do it
but the daily experience of severities, and the ceaseless dread and
certainty of the most terrible inflictions if they should dare to toss
in their chains.

2. Were there nothing else to prove it a system of monstrous cruelty,
the fact that FEAR is the only motive with which the slave is plied
during his whole existence, would be sufficient to brand it with
execration as the grand tormentor of man. The slave's _susceptibility
of pain_ is the sole fulcrum on which slavery works the lever that
moves him. In this it plants all its stings; here it sinks its hot
irons; cuts its deep gashes; flings its burning embers, and dashes its
boiling brine and liquid fire: into this it strikes its cold flesh
hooks, grappling irons, and instruments of nameless torture; and by it
drags him shrieking to the end of his pilgrimage. The fact that the
master inflicts pain upon the slave not merely as an _end_ to gratify
passion, but constantly as a _means_ of extorting labor, is enough of
itself to show that the system of slavery is unmixed cruelty.

3. That the slaves must suffer frequent and terrible inflictions,
follows inevitably from the _character of those who direct their
labor_. Whatever may be the character of the slaveholders themselves,
all agree that the overseers are, as a class, most abandoned, brutal,
and desperate men. This is so well known and believed that any
testimony to prove it seems needless. The testimony of Mr. WIRT, late
Attorney General of the United States, a Virginian and a slaveholder,


Back to Full Books