Gottfried Duden | Frances Trollope | Alexis de Tocqueville | Gustave de Beaumont | Isaac Fidler | Richard Gooch | Harriet Martineau | Frederick Marryat | Charles Lyell | Joseph Sturge | Charles Dickens
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI. October 26, 1824. Domestic chores for women on the frontier; slavery on the frontier.
The choicest settlements are along the Ohio, the White, and the Wabash rivers. The state was established in 1816 and, at present, has a population of about a hundred and fifty thousand souls. Slavery is as little permissible as in the state of Ohio and in Illinois. It is claimed that this law is not favorable to the rapid progress of the interior. The state of Ohio has been able to increase its population more easily through the immigration of poor settlers from the Atlantic states. Settlements in the more remote regions, however, require more means, which are almost exclusively in the possession of such persons who, because of their education and their circumstances, are relieved from spending all their time in physical labor, and usually make use of servants or slaves in establishing settlements. As long as the population is sparse, servants are very expensive. I have stayed overnight in houses that were very luxurious in their accoutrements, with costly carpets in all rooms, but one asked in vain for a servant. The landlord was compelled, in spite of his considerable wealth, to care personally for the horses as well as for the guests. Furthermore, his wife and daughters had to perform the most menial household tasks. Their only topic of conversation was that they wished to sell their establishments in order to move to a state where one could keep slaves.
MISSOURI WILDERNESS. June 1826. In the western part of North America the population, in comparison to the amount of fertile, cheap land, is too sparse to permit anyone who either cannot or does not wish to be actively engaged in physical labor to carry on farming on a large scale without slaves. Even if one wants to supply one's own needs, domestic affairs would suffer because of the lack of whites who would have any desire to be hired for this purpose. But one who could decide to hire a slave would probably not hesitate to buy him.
The usual price of a male slave from nineteen to thirty years of age is four to five hundred dollars. The price of a female slave is a third less. Sometimes there is a guarantee against running away; often not it is always advisable to take this into consideration.
One who keeps slaves here has their living quarters near his own house. They do all the work that is done by domestic servants in Germany. It is in the master's self-interest to treat them with considera tion and to make their lot bearable. He encourages young slaves to marry so that they learn to like a regulated life. The children are also slaves and follow the mother if perhaps the father should have another master, which can easily be the case.
It happens in the United States that male and female slaves try to avenge insults and mistreatment not only by running away but also by murdering one or more members of the family. Sometimes they resort to open violence, sometimes to poisoning. Only recently there was a case of the latter about twenty miles from here. A seventeen-year-old Negro girl wanted to poison the entire family. But the dose of arsenic was so large that it caused immediate vomiting and therefore the attempt failed. The public papers recently told of the following incident. A farmer, the father of several children, had a small Negro girl about seven years of age in his home. One day this girl came back from a nearby wood and announced to her master and mistress that their four-year-old child had fallen into the brook. They ran quickly to the place and found the delicate creature already drowned, although the water at that place was not at all deep. They censured the Negro girl severely, saying that she should have helped the child herself instead of running for aid. A year later it happened that a younger child of the family failed to appear for a meal. The mother asked the Negro girl, who was accustomed to playing with the child, where it was, but received such a strange answer that, driven by great anxiety, she got up immediately to look for her. But she searched and called in vain, and then, as if filled with gloomy forebodings, turned fiercely to the Negress and demanded that she should tell her where she had left the child. Thereupon she obtained without difficulty the information that the child was lying in the brook. This indeed proved to be true, and this child also was lying dead at a place in the brook where she could have been saved by merely raising her head. They became more and more suspicious of the Negro girl and soon urgent reasons for a severe cross examination became apparent. As a result she confessed that both children had been choked to death in the water, and that the culprit had committed a similar murder while at her former owner's (who likewise had found a child suffocated in the water).
Such details, however, must not prejudice anyone against Negroes in general. There is no lack of gruesome deviation from nature among the whites either. I remember, among other things, that several years ago, on the Lower Rhine, a seven-year-old boy twice reduced an entlre village to ashes in revenge for a minor punishment (which some German law professors would attribute good-naturedly to a curious urge to see fire).
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA. December 1827. New Orleans Society; Fate of Quadroon Women.
Our stay in New Orleans was not long enough to permit our entering into society, but I was told that it contained two distinct sets of people, both celebrated, in their way, for their social meetings and elegant entertainments. The first of these is composed of Creole families, who are chiefly planters and merchants, with their wives and daughters; these meet together, eat together, and are very grand and aristocratic; each of their balls is a little Almack's,and every portly dame of the set is as exclusive in her principles as a lady patroness. The other set consists of the excluded but amiable Quadroons, and such of the gentlemen of the former class as can by any means escape from the high places, where pure Creole blood swells the veins at the bare mention of any being tainted in the remotest degree with the Negro stain.
Of all the prejudices I have ever witnessed, this appears to me the most violent, and the most inveterate. Quadroon girls, the acknowledged daughters of wealthy American or Creole fathers, educated with all of style and accomplishments which money can procure at New Orleans, and with all the decorum that care and affection can give exquisitely beautiful, graceful, gentle, and amiable, these are not admitted, nay, are not on any terms admissible, into the society of the Creole families of Louisiana. They cannot marry, that is to say, no ceremony can render an union with them legal or binding; yet such is the powerful effect of their very peculiar grace, beauty, and sweetness of manner, that unfortunately they perpetually become the objects of choice and affection. If the Creole ladies have privilege to exercise the awful power of repulsion, the gentle Quadroon has the sweet but dangerous vengeance of possessing that of attraction. The unions formed with this unfortunate race are said to be often lasting and happy, as far as any unions can be so, to which a certain degree of disgrace is attached.
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE. January 1828. Education of Negroes.
Miss Wright, then less known (though the author of more than one clever volume) than she has since become, was the companion of our voyage from Europe; and it was my purpose to have passed some months with her and her sister at the estate she had purchased in Tennessee. This lady, since become so celebrated as the advocate of opinions that make millions shudder, and some half-score admire, was, at the time of my leaving England with her, dedicated to a pursuit widely different from her subsequent occupations. Instead of becoming a public orator in every town throughout America, she was about, as she said, to seclude herself for life in the deepest forests of the western world, that her fortune, her time, and her talents might be exclusively devoted to aid the cause of the suffering Africans. Her first object was to show that nature had made no difference between blacks and whites, excepting in complexion; and this she expected to prove, by giving an education perfectly equal to a class of black and white children. Could this fact be once fully established, she conceived that the Negro cause would stand on firmer ground than it had yet done, and the degraded rank which they have ever held amongst civilized nations would be proved to be a gross injustice.
CINCINNATI, OHIO. 1828. Women Lecturers; Abolitionist Sentiment.
Soon after Dr. Caldwell's departure, another lecturer appeared upon the scene, whose purpose of publicly addressing the people was no sooner made known than the most violent sensation was excited.
That a lady of fortune, family, and education, whose youth had been passed in the most refined circles of private life, should present herself to the people as a public lecturer, would naturally excite surprise any where, and the nil admirari of the old world itself would hardly be sustained before such a spectacle; but in America, where women are guarded by a seven-fold shield of habitual insignificance, it caused an effect that can hardly be described. "Miss Wright, of Nashoba, is going to lecture at the court-house," sounded from street to street, and from house to house. I shared the surprise, but not the wonder; I knew her extraordinary gift of eloquence, her almost unequalled command of words, and the wonderful power of her rich and thrilling voice; and I doubted not that if it was her will to do it, she had the power of commanding the attention, and enchanting the ear of any audience before whom it was her pleasure to appear. I was most anxious to hear her, but was almost deterred from attempting it, by the reports that reached me of the immense crowd that was expected. After many consultations, and hearing that many other ladies intended going, my friend Mrs. P****, and myself, decided upon making the attempt, accompanied by a party of gentlemen, and found the difficulty less than we anticipated, though the building was crowded in every part. We congratulated ourselves that we had had the courage to be among the number, for all my expectations fell far short of the splendour, the brilliance, the overwhelming eloquence of this extraordinary orator.
Her lecture was upon the nature of true knowledge, and it contained little that could be objected to, by any sect or party; it was intended as an introduction to the strange and startling theories contained in her subsequent lectures, and could alarm only by the hints it contained that the fabric of human wisdom could rest securely on no other base than that of human knowledge.
There was, however, one passage from which common-sense revolted; it was one wherein she quoted that phrase of mischievous sophistry, "all men are born free and equal."
This false and futile axiom, which has done, is doing, and will do so much harm to this fine country, came from Jefferson; and truly his life was a glorious commentary upon it. I pretend not to criticise his written works, but common sense enables me to pronounce this, his favourite maxim, false.
Few names are held in higher estimation in America than that of Jefferson: it is the touchstone of the democratic party, and all seem to agree that he was one of the greatest men; yet I have heard his name coupled with deeds which would make the sons of Europe shudder. The facts I allude to are spoken openly by all, not whispered privately by a few; and in a country where religion is the tea-table talk, and its strict observance a fashionable distinction, these facts are recorded, and listened to, without horror, nay, without emotion.
Mr. Jefferson is said to have been the father of children by almost all his numerous gang of female slaves. These wretched offspring were also the lawful slaves of their father, and worked in his house and plantations as such; in particular, it is recorded that it was his especial pleasure to be waited upon by them at table, and the hospitable orgies for which his Montecello was so celebrated were incomplete, unless the goblet he quaffed were tendered by the trembling hand of his own slavish offspring.
I once heard it stated by a democratical adorer of this great man, that when, as it sometimes happened, his children by Quadroon slaves were white enough to escape suspicion of their origin, he did not pursue them if they attempted to escape, saying laughingly, "Let the rogues get off, if they can; I will not hinder them." This was stated in a large party, as a proof of his kind and noble nature, and was received by all with approving smiles.
If I know any thing of right or wrong, if virtue and vice be indeed something more than words, then was this great American an unprincipled tyrant, and most heartless libertine.
But to return to Miss Wright--it is impossible to imagine any thing more striking than her appearance. Her tall and majestic figure, the deep and almost solemn expression of her eyes, the simple contour of her finely formed head, unadorned, excepting by its own natural ringlets; her garment of plain white muslin, which hung around her in folds that recalled the drapery of a Grecian statue, all contributed to produce an effect, unlike any thing I had ever seen before, or ever expect to see again.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA. October 28, 1831. Tocqueville's conversation with James Brown concerning the status of Quadroon Women in New Orleans.
We spoke of New Orleans, where he lived for twenty years. He said to me: There is in New Orleans a clas of women dedicated to concubinage, the women of colour. Immorality is for them, as it were, a profession carried on with fidelity. A coloured girl is destined from her birth to become the mistress of a white. When she becomes marriageable, her mother takes care to provide for her. It's a sort of temporary marriage. It lasts ordinarily for several years, during which it is very rare that the girl so joined can be reproached with infidelity. In this fashion they pass from hand to hand until, having acquired a certain competence, they marry for good with a man of their own condition and introduce their daughters into the same life.
There's an order of things truly contrary to nature, said I; it must be the cause of considerable disturbance in society.
Not so much as you might believe, replied Mr. Brown. The rich young men are very dissolute, but their immorality is restricted to the field of coloured women. White women of French or American blood have very pure morals. They are virtuous, first, I imagine, because virtue pleases them, and next because the women of colour are not; to have a lover is to join their class.
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA. December 27, 1831. Tocqueville's conversation with M. Guillemin on the fate of mulattoes in New Orleans.
There exists, as a matter of fact, a great deal of immorality among the coloured people. But how could it be otherwise? The law destines, as it were, coloured women to debauchery. You've no doubt noticed, in the place reserved for mulattoes in the theatre and elsewhere, women as white as the most beautiful Europeans. Eh bien! For all that they belong to the proscribed race, because tradition makes it known that there is African blood in their veins. Yet all these women, and many others who, without being as white, possess yet almost the tint and the graces of Europeans and have often received and excellent education, are forbidden by law to marry into the ruling and rich race of whites. If they wish to contract a legitimate union, they have to marry with the men of their caste, and partake their humiliation. For the men of colour don't even enjoy the shameful privilege accorded to their women. Even did neither their colour nor their education betray them, and that's often the case, they would not be the less condemned to perpetual indignities. Not a [illegible] white but has the right to maltreat the happy person in his way and to thrust him in to the muck crying, "Get out of the way, mulatto!"
MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA. January 1832. Tocqueville's diary on the relationship between blacks, Indians, and whites; Tocqueville's account of a slaveholder with slave children.
Near Montgomery in the state of Alabama, I witnessed a little scene that made me reflect. Near the house of a planter what a charming little white girl (his daughter) whom a young Indian girl was holding in her arms and showering with the most maternal caresses. By her side was a negress amusing the child. The latter, in its slightest gestures, showed a consciousness of the superiority which, according to its youthful experience, already raised it above the two companions, whose caresses and attention it received with a sort of feudal condescension. Squatting before it, and spying out its slightest movements, the negress seemed curiously divided between the attachment, and the respectful fear, that her young mistress inspired. While even in the effusion and tenderness of the Indian girl there was visible something free, something a little savage, contrasting strangely with the submissive posture and humble gestures of her companion. Something I couldn't see having attracted her attention in the woods, she got up brusquely, pushed the child aside with some roughness, and plunged into the foliage...
I encountered in the Southern part of the Union an old man who formerly had lived in illegitimate commerce with one of his negresses. He had had by her several children who, on coming into the world, had become the slaves of their father. Several times the latter had thought of at least bequeathing them their liberty, but hears had slipped by before he could clear the obstacles placed by the legislators in the way of manumission. During this time old age had come, and he was going to die. He pictured to himself then, his sons dragged from market to market, and passing from paternal authority under the rod of a stranger. These horrible images threw his expiring imagination into delirium, I saw him the prey of the anguish of despair, and I understood then how nature could avenge the wounds given by its laws.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA. October 1831. Beaumont's experience with racial segregation at the theatre.
The first time I entered a theatre in the United States, I was surprised at the care with which the spectators of white skin were distinguished from the black faces. In the first gallery were the whites; in the second, the mulattoes; in the third, the negroes. An American, near whom I was placed, pointed out to me that the dignity of the whites required this classification. However, my eyes wandering to the gallery of the mulattoes, I noticed there a young woman of striking beauty, whose complexion, of a perfect whiteness, betrayed the purest European blood. Entering into all the prejudices of my neighbour, I asked him how a woman of English origin could be so shameless as to mingle with the African women.
That woman is coloured, he answered.
What? Coloured? She is whiter than a lily!
She is coloured, he repeated coldly. The tradition of the country establishes her origin, and every one knows that she numbers a mulatto among her ancestors.
He pronounced these words without further explanation, as one would utter a truth which, to be understood, needs but to be stated.
At the same instant I made out in the gallery of the whites a face that was half black. I demanded the explanation of this new phenomenon. The American replied: The woman who now attracts your attention is white.
--What? White! Her complexion is that of the mulattoes.
--She is white, he insisted. The tradition of the country says that the blood flowing in her veins in Spanish.
From Marie. CHAPTER 8: "THE REVELATION." Consequences of Mixed Parentage in America; Miscegenation Laws.
Secretly he [Don Fernando d'Almanza] spread the rumor that Theresa [Marie's mother] was, through her great-grandmother, a mulatto; he brought proofs to this allegation which could justify it, naming all the forebears of Marie back to her whose impure blood had, he said, tainted the whole family.
His denunciation was hateful, but it was true. The stain upon Theresa Spencer's origins had been lost in the night of time. At Fernando's voice, sleeping memories reawoke--the memory of man is long when it comes to the misfortunes of others! Public opinion was in a turmoil; a sort of inquest was held; the oldest inhabitants were consulted, and it was found that a century before, Theresa Spencer's family had been soiled by a drop of black blood.
In following generations this admixture had become imperceptible. The whiteness of Theresa's complexion was dazzling; nothing in her features disclosed the flaw in her origin; but tradition condemned her.
From that day on, our life, which had flowed with such peaceful sweetness, became bitter and cruel. The more highly we had been respected by the world, the more shattering was the shame of our fall from grace...
We live here [Baltimore] in outward tranquillity: the trouble is in our hearts alone.
Not a soul knows the shame of my children; but it might be discovered any day. We are loved an honoured, because no one knows who we are. One word from a well-informed enemy could ruin us: we are like a guilty man whom society believes innocent, not daring to accept a prominent position because too overhwleming a disgrace would follow the revelation of his crime...
Marie... submissive and resigned to her destiny, seeks the shadow of isolation. This is the secret of her aversion to society. Ah yes, indeed she surpasses all the women of Baltimore in intelligence, talent, and goodness; but she is not their equal.... [interview with Nelson, following the revelation] N. the child of a slave belongs to the slave's master, as the fruits of the soil belong to the owner of the land. The loves of a slave leave no more trace on society than does the breeding of plants on our gardens; and when he dies, the only thought is to replace him, as one replaces a fruitful tree destroyed by a storm.
L. Thus your laws forbid Negro slaves to have filial respect, paternal love, and conjugal tenderness. Then what is left to them in common with mankind?
N. The principle once admitted, these consequences follow: the child born in slavery knows no more of family life than does an animal. The maternal bosom nourishes him as the teat of the wild beast feeds her young. The touching relationships of mother with child, of child with father, of brother with sister, have neither sense nor moral value to him, and he does not marry, because, belonging to someone else, he cannot give himself to anyone...
L. However, a white man, if such was his wish, could marry a free woman of color.
N. No, my friend, you are mistaken.
L..What power could hinder him?
N. The law. It contains an express prohibition, and declares such a marriage null.
L. A hateful law! But I shall defy that law.
N. There is a more serious obstacle than the law itself, that is tradition. You are ignorant of the condition of women of color in American society. You must know (I blush to say it, for it is a disgrace to my country) that in Louisiana the highest position that can be held by a free woman of color is that of a prostitute to white men.
New Orleans is largely populated by Americans from the North, who have come to make their fortunes, and leave as soon as they have made them. Rarely do these transients marry; and this is the obstacle that hinders them:
Each summer, New Orleans is ravaged by yellow fever. At this time, all those who can, quit the city, go up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, and seek in the Northern or central states, at Philadelphia or Boston, a more salubrious climate. When the hot season is over, they return to the South and resume their business. These annual migrations are easy for bachelors, but they would be inconvenienced by a family. The American man avoids all vexation by not marrying, and by taking an unlawful companion; he always chooses one from among the free women of color and gives her a sort of dowry. The young girl is honored by a union which brings her together with a white man; she knows she cannot marry him it is much in her eyes to be loved by him. She might, according to law, have married a mulatto, but such an alliance would not raise her out of her class. Also, the mulatto has no power to protect her; in marrying a man of color she perpetuates her degradation; she raises herself by prostituting herself to the white man. All young girls of color are brought up with these prejudices, and from the earliest age their parents mold them to the end of corruption. There are balls where none are admitted but white men and women of color; the husbands or brothers of the latter are not received; their mothers customarily attend and are witness to the attentions paid to their daughters, encourage them, and rejoice in them. When an American man's fancy is caught by a young girl, he approaches her mother, who bargains shrewdly, demanding more or less as a price according to whether her daughter is more or less of a novice. All this goes on, quite openly; these monstrous unions have not even the decency of vice, which hides itself in shame, as does virtue for modesty's sake; they parade undisguised before all eyes, and no infamy or blame is attached to the men who form them. When the American from the North has made his fortune, he has achieved his goal. One fine day he leaves New Orleans and never returns. His children, and she who for ten years has lived as his wife, are nothing to him. Then the girl of color sells herself to another man. And that is the fate of women of the African race in Louisiana.
THORNHILL, CANADA. Summer 1832. Segregation in America; Freed Slaves in Canada.
In New-York no white person will sit down to eat at the same table with a coloured person, nor associate in the same company. I cannot conceive, why there should be any such antipathy or repugnance. I talked with several coloured people, and always found them, in conversation, rational and sensible. At Thornhill in Canada, there was a black man and his wife, but they were not so treated as in the States. With the woman I had several opportunities of talking. She spoke as properly, and as much to the purpose, on every question proposed to her, as any person, who could neither read nor write, could be expected to do. I encouraged her to join our Sunday school, which she did a few times but had not acquired ability to read, before she left the neighbourbood. Her husband had been a slave in the States, and had made a premature liberation of himself by crossing the boundary line. Yet he could not gain a living by his skill and labour. He was a helpless and dependent creature. I perceived the necessity of conveying useful instruction to people inured to slavery, before emancipation and the rights of freedom are bestowed. Liberty to the captive is assuredly no blessing, where this had not been previously provided.
NEW YORK CITY. 1834. Free Black Population in New York.
One American had the effrontery to tell me, that it ought to be made a crime for a white man to marry a black woman. Let the American gentleman go study the character of the freeblack, and he will behold a fond husband and father and a man social, sober, & industrious in his habits. Their affection for their offspring not only far surpasses that of the American, but they are tenderly, nay devotedly attached to their wives, and far, very far exceed the Americans in their gallantry and estimation of the weaker sex. It is truly delightful to see the free-blacks walk forth, well-dressed & well-behaved, on the Sunday, with their wives & children. Their contented, happy, cheerful faces are by far the most attractive feature that characterizes a New-York Sabbath. As for gallantry & attention to their females, an American is not to be named with a free-black. Yet these same Americans affect universally to despise them, and many have often expressed their astonishment at seeing me converse with them. But I confess their intelligence, their wit and general information, their natural acuteness of intellect, was a source of far greater attraction to me, than any the society of whites, born Americans, afforded.
MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA. April 1835.
General Abilities of Slaves; Slave Quarters; Education of Slaves. On this, and many other estates that we saw, the ladies make it their business to cut out all the clothes for the negroes. Many a fair pair of hands have I seen dyed with blue, and bearing the marks of the large scissors. The slave women cannot be taught, it is said, to cut out even their scanty and unshapely garments economically. Nothing can be more hideous than their working costume. There would be nothing to lose on the score of beauty, and probably much gained, if they could be permitted to clothe themselves. But it is universally said that they cannot learn. A few ladies keep a woman for this purpose, very naturally disliking the coarse employment.
We visited the negro quarter; a part of the estate which filled me with disgust, wherever I went. It is something between a haunt of monkeys and a dwelling-place of human beings. The natural good taste, so remarkable in free negroes, is here extinguished. Their small, dingy, untidy houses, their cribs, the children crouching round the fire, the animal deportment of the grown-up, the brutish chagrins and enjoyments of the old, were all loathsome. There was some relief in seeing the children playing in the sun, and sometimes fowls clucking and strutting round the houses; but otherwise, a walk through a lunatic asylum is far less painful than a visit to the slave quarter of an estate. The children are left, during working hours, in the charge of a woman; and they are bright, and brisk, and merry enough, for the season, however slow and stupid they may be destined to become.
...I spent some days at a plantation a few miles from Montgomery, and heard there of an old lady who treats her slaves in a way very unusual, but quite safe, as far as appears. She gives them knowledge, which is against the law; but the law leaves her in peace and quiet. She also commits to them the entire management of the estate, requiring only that they should make her comfortable, and letting them take the rest. There is an obligation by law to keep an overseer; to obviate insurrection. How she manages about this, I omitted to inquire: but all goes on well; the cultivation of the estate is creditable, and all parties are contented. This is only a temporary ease and contentment. The old lady must die; and her slaves will either be sold to a new owner, whose temper will be an accident; or, if freed, must leave the State: but the story is satisfactory in that it gives evidence of the trustworthiness of the negroes.
...The Americans possess an advantage in regard to the teaching of manners which they do not appreciate. They have before their eyes, in the manners of the coloured race, a perpatual caricature of their own follies; a mirror of conventionalism from which they can never escape. The negros are the most imitative set of people living. While they are in a degraded condition, with little principle, little knowledge, little independence, they copy the most successfully those things in their superiors which involve the least principle, knowledge, and independence; viz. their conventionalisms. They carry their mimicry far beyond any which is seen among the menials of the rich in Europe. The black footmen of the United States have tiptoe graces, stiff cravats, and eye-catching flourishes, like the footmen in London: but the imitation extends into more important matters. As the slaves of the south assume their masters' names and military titles, they assume their methods of conducting tte courtesies and gaieties of life. I have in my possession a note of invitation to a ball, written on pink paper with gilt edges. When the lady invited came to her mistress for the ticket which was necessary to authorise her being out after nine at night, she was dressed in satin with muslin over it, satin shoes, and white kid gloves: but, the satin was faded, the muslin torn: the shoes were tied upon the extremities of her splay feet and the white gloves dropping in tatters from her dark fingers. She was a caricature, instead of a fine lady. A friend of mine walked a mile or two in the dusk behind two black men and a woman whom they were courting. He told me that nothing could be more admirable than the coyness of the lady, and the compliments of the gallant and his friend. It could not be very amusing to those who reflect that holy and constant love, free preference, and all that makes marriage a blessing instead of a curse, were here out of the question: but the resemblance in the mode of courtship to that adopted by whites, when meditating marriage of a not dissimilar virtue, a marriage of barter, could not be overlooked.
Even in their ultimate, funereal courtesies, the coloured race imitate the whites. An epitaph on a negro baby at Savannah begins, " Sweet blighted lily !" They have few customs which are absolutely peculiar. One of these is refusing to eat before whites. When we went long expeditions, carrying luncheon, or procuring it by the road-side, the slaves always retired with their share behind trees or large stones, or other hiding-places.
From ÒWoman," MartineauÕs Chapter on the General State of American Women.
I could cite many conversations and incidents to show how the morals of women are crushed: but I can make room for only one. Let it be the following. A lady, who is considered unusually clearheaded and sound-hearted where trying questions are not concerned, one day praised very highly Dr. Channing's work on Slavery. " But," said she, " do not you think it a pity that so much is said on slavery just now ?"
" No. I think it necessary and natural."
" But people who hold Dr. Channing's belief about a future life, cannot well make out the case of the slaves to be so very bad an one. If the present life is but a moment in comparison with the eternity to come, can it matter so very much how it is spent ?"
" How does it strike you about your own children ? Would it reconcile you to their being made slaves, that they could be so only for three-score years and ten ?"
" O no. But yet it seems as if life would so soon be over."
" And what do you think of their condition at the end of it ? How much will the purposes of human life have been fulfilled ?"
" The slaves will not be punished, you know, for the state they may be in; for it will be no fault of their own. Their masters will have the responsibility; not they."
" Place the responsibility where you will. Speaking according to your own belief, do you think it of no consequence whether a human being enters upon a future life utterly ignorant and sensualised, or in the likeness of Dr. Channing, as you described him just now ?"
" Of great consequence, certainly. But then it is no business of ours; of us women, at all events."
" I thought you considered yourself a Christian."
" So I do. You will say that Christians should help sufferers, whoever and wherever they may be. But not women, in all cases, surely."
" Where, in your Christianity, do you find the distinction made ?"
She could only reply that she thought women should confine themselves to doing what could be done at home. I asked her what her Christian charity would bid her do, if she saw a great boy beating a little one in the street.
" O, I parted two such the other day in the street. It would have been very wrong to have passed them by."
"Well: if there are a thousand strung men in the south beating ten thousand weak slaves, and you can possibly help to stop the beating by a declaration of your opinion upon it, does not your Christian duty oblige you to make such a declaration, whether you are man or woman? What in the world has your womanhood to do with it?"
APPENDIX: RECOLLECTIONS OF A SOUTHERN MATRON. Education, Slaves, Duties of a Wife on the Plantation.
After the departure of our Connecticut teacher, Mr. Bates, papa resolved to carry on our education himself. We were to rise by daylight, that he might pursue his accustomed ride over the fields after breakfast. New writing-books were taken out and ruled, fresh quills laid by their side, our task carefully committed to memory, and we sat with a mixture of docility and curiosity, to know how he would manage as a teacher. The first three days our lessons being on trodden ground, and ourselves under the impulse of novelty, we were very amiable, he very paternal; on the fourth, John was turned out of the room, Richard was pronounced a mule, and I went sobbing to mamma as if my heart would break, while papa said he might be compelled to ditch rice fields, but he never would undertake to teach children again.
A slight constraint was thrown over the family for a day or two, but it soon wore off, and he returned to his good-nature. For three weeks we were as wild as fawns, until mamma's attention was attracted by my sun-burnt complexion, and my brothers' torn clothes.
“This will never answer," said she to papa. "Look at Cornelia's face! It is as brown as a chinquapin. Richard has ruined his new suit, and John has cut his leg with the carpenter's tools. I have half a mind to keep school for them myself."
Papa gave a slight whistle, which seemed rather to stimulate than check her resolution.
"Cornelia," said she, " go directly to your brothers, and prepare your books for to-morrow. I will teach you."
The picture about to be presented is not overwrought. I am confident of the sympathy of many a mother, whose finger has been kept on a word in the dictionary so long a time, that her pupils, forgetting her vocation, have lounged through the first interruptions and finished with a frolic.
One would suppose that the retirement of a plantation was the most appropriate spot for a mother and her children to give and receive instruction. Not so, for instead of a limited household, her dependents are increased to a number which would constitute a village. She is obliged to listen to cases of grievance, is a nurse to the sick, distributes the half-yearly clothing; indeed, the mere giving out of thread and needles is something of a charge on so large a scale. A planter's lady may seem indolent, because there are so many under her who perform trivial services, but the very circumstance of keeping so many menials in order is an arduous one, and the keys of her establishment are a care of which a northern housekeeper knows nothing, and include a very extensive class of duties. Many fair and even aristocratic girls, if we may use this phrase in our republican country, who grace a ball-room, or loll in a liveried carriage, may be seen with these steel talismans, presiding over store-houses, and measuring with the accuracy and conscientiousness of a shopman, the daily allowance of the family; or cutting homespun suits, for days together, for the young and old slaves under their charge; while matrons, who would ring a bell for their pocket-handkerchief to be brought to them, will act the part of a surgeon or physician, with a promptitude and skill, which would excite astonishment in a stranger. Very frequently, slaves, like children, will only take medicine from their superiors, and in this case the planter's wife or daughter is admirably fitted to aid them.
There are few establishments where all care and responsibility devolves on the master, and even then the superintendence of a large domestic circle, and the rites of hospitality, demand so large a portion of the mistress's time, as leaves her but little opportunity for systematic teaching in her family. In this case she is wise to seek an efficient tutor, still appropriating those opportunities which perpetually arise under the same roof, to improve their moral and religious culture, and cultivate those sympathies which exalt these precious beings from children to friends.
The young, conscientious, ardent mother must be taught this by experience. She has a jealousy at first of any instruction that shall come between their dawning minds and her own, and is only taught by the constantly thwarted recitation, that in this country, at least, good housekeeping and good teaching cannot be combined.
But to return to my narrative. The morning after mamma's order, we assembled at ten o'clock. There was a little trepidation in her manner, but we loved her too well to annoy her by noticing it. Her education had been confined to mere rudiments, and her good sense led her only to conduct our reading, writing, and spelling.
We stood in a line.
" Spell irrigate," said she. Just then the coachman entered, and bowing, said, " Maussa send me for de key for get four quart o'corn for him bay horse."
The key was given.
" Spell imitate," said mamma.
"We did not spell irrigate," we all exclaimed.
" Oh, no," said she, " irrigate."
By the time the two words were well through, Chloe, the most refined of our coloured circle, appeared.
" Will mistress please to medjure out some calomel for Syphax, who is feverish and restless?"
During mamma's visit to the doctors shop, as the medicine-closet was called, we turned the inkstand over on her mahogany table, and wiped it up with our pocket-handkerchiefs. It required some time to cleanse and arrange ourselves; and just as we were seated and had advanced a little way on our orthographical journey, maum Phillis entered with her usual drawl, " Little maussa want for nurse, mam.."
While this operation was going on, we gathered round mamma to play be-peep with the baby, until even she forgot our lessons At length the little pet was dismissed with the white drops still resting on his red lips, and our line was formed again.
Mamma's next interruption, after successfully issuing a few words, was to settle a quarrel between La Fayette and Venus, two little blackies, who were going through their daily drill, in learning to rub the furniture, which with brushing flies at meals constitutes the first instruction for house servants. These important and classical personages rubbed about a stroke to the minute on each side of the cellaret, rolling up their eyes and making grimaces at each other. At this crisis they had laid claim to the same rubbing-cloth; mamma stopped the dispute by ordering my seamstress Flora, who was sewing for me, to apply the weight of her thimble, that long-known weapon of offence, as well as implement of industry, to their organ of firmness.
" Spell accentuate," said mamma, whose finger had slipped from the column.
" No, no, that is not the place," we exclaimed, rectifying the mistake.
" Spell irritate," said she, with admirable coolness, and John fairly succeeded just as the overseer's son, a sallow little boy with yellow hair, and blue homespun dress, came in with his hat on, and kicking up one foot for manners, said, " Fayther says as how he wants master Richard's horse to help tote some tetters to t'other field.''
This pretty piece of alliteration was complied with, after some remonstrance from brother Dick, and we finished our column. At this crisis, before we were fairly seated at writing, mamma was summoned to the hall to one of the field hands, who had received an injury in the uncle from a hoe. Papa and the overseer being at a distance, she was obliged to superintend the wound. We all followed her, La Fayette and Venus bringing up the rear. She inspected the sufferer's great foot, covered with blood and perspiration, superintended a bath, prepared a healing application, and bound it on with her own delicate hands, first quietly tying a black apron over her white dress. Here was no shrinking, no hiding of the eyes, and while extracting some extraneous substance from the wound, her manner was as resolute as it was gentle and consoling. This episode gave Richard an opportunity to unload his pockets of groundnuts, and treat us therewith. We were again seated at our writing-books, and were going on swimmingly with Avoid evil company," when a little crow-minder, hoarse from his late occupation, came in with a basket of eggs, and said,
" Mammy Phillis send Missis some egg for bay, matam; she ain't so bery well, and ax for some 'baccer."
It took a little time to pay for the eggs and send to the store-room for the Virginia-weed, of which opportunity we availed ourselves to draw figures on our slates: mamma reproved us, and we were resuming our duties, when the cook's son approached and said,
" Missis, Daddy Ajax say he been broke de axe, and ax me for ax you for Len him de new axe."
This made us shout out with laughter, and the business was scarcely settled, when the dinner - horn sounded. That evening a carriage full of friends arrived from the city to pass a week with us, and thus ended mamma’s experiment in teaching.
Our summers were usually passed at Springland, a pine-settlement, where about twenty families resorted at that season of the year. We were fortunate to find a French lady already engaged in teaching, from whom I took lessons on the piano-forte and guitar. The summer passed swiftly away. Papa was delighted with my facility in French, in which my brothers were also engaged, and we were happy to retain Madame d'Anville in our own family, on our return to Roseland.
In the middle of November a stranger was announced to papa, and a young man of very prepossessing appearance entered with a letter. It proved to be from our teacher, Mr. Bates. The contents were as follows:
" Respected Sir. I now sit down to write to you, to inform you that I am well, as also are Sir and Madam, my sister Nancy, and all the rest of our folks except aunt Patty, who is but poorly, having attacks of the rheumatiz, and shortness of breath. I should add, that Mrs. Prudence Bates, (who after the regular publishment on the church-doors for three Sundays, was united to me in the holy bands of wedlock, by our minister Mr. Ezekiel Duncan,) is in a good state of health, at this present, though her uncle, by her father's side, has been sick of jaundice, a complaint that has been off and on with him for a considerable spell.
" The bearer of this epistle is Parson Duncan's son, by name Mr. Charles Duncan, a very likely young man, but poorly in health, and Dr. Hincks says, going down to Charleston may set him up. I have the candour to say, that I think him, on some accounts, a more proper teacher than your humble servant, having served his time at a regular college education.
"I have writ a much longer letter than I thought on, but somehow it makes me chirpy to think of Roseland, though the young folks were obstreperous.
" Give my love nevertheless to them, and Miss Wilton, and all the little ones, as also I would not forget Daddy Jacque, whom I consider, notwithstanding his colour, as a very respectable person. I cannot say as much for Jim, who was an eternal thorn in my side, by reason of his quickness at mischief, and his slowness at waiting upon me; and I take this opportunity of testifying, that I believe if he had been in New England, he would have had his deserts before this; but you Southern folks do put up with an unaccountable sight from niggers, and I hope Jim will not be allowed his full tether, if so be Mr. Charles should take my situation in your family. I often tell our folks how I used to catch up a thing and do it rather than wait for half-a-dozen on 'em to take their own time. If I lived to the age of Methusalem, I never could git that composed, quiet kind of way you Southern folks have of waiting on the niggers. I only wish they could see aunt Patty move when the rbeumatiz is off, if she isn't spry, I don't know.
" Excuse all errors,
" Yours to serve,
`` JOSEPH BATES.
I detected a gentle, half-comical smile on Mr. Duncan's mouth as he raised his splendid eyes to papa, while delivering Mr. Bates' letter; but he soon walked to the window, and asked me some questions about the Cherokee-rose hedge, and other objects in view, which were novelties to him. I felt instantly that he was a gentleman, by the atmosphere of refinement which was thrown over him, and I saw that papa sympathised with me, as with graceful courtesy he welcomed him to Roseland -- Southern Rose-Bud.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, VIRGINIA. August 1838. Naming Slaves.
There are, as may be supposed, a large number of negro servants here attending their masters and mistresses. I have often been amused, not only here, but during my residence in Kentucky, at the high-sounding Christian names which have been given to them. "Byron, tell Ada to come here directly." "Now, Telemachus, if you don't leave Calvpso alone, you'll get a taste of the cow-hide."
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY. August 1838. Accuracy of Martineau's Account; Fear of Violence by Slaves Exaggerated.
Lexington is a very pretty town, with very pleasant society, and afforded me great relief after the unpleasant sojourn I had had at Louisville. Conversing one day with Mr. Clay, I had another instance given me of the mischief which the conduct of Miss Martineau has entailed upon all those English who may happen to visit America. Mr. Clay observed that Miss Martineau had remained with him for some time, and that during her stay, she had professed very different, or at least more modified opinions on the subject of slavery, than those she had expressed in her book: so much so, that one day, having read a letter from Boston cautioning her against being cajoled by the hospitality and pleasant society of the Western States, she handed it to him saying, "They want to make a regular abolitionist of me." "When her work came out," continued Mr. Clay, "although I read but very little of it, I turned to this subject so important with us, and I must say I was a little surprised to find that she had so changed her opinions." The fact is, Miss Martineau appears to have been what the Kentuckians call, "playing 'possum." I have met with some of the Southern ladies whose conversations on slavery are said, or supposed to have been those printed by Miss Martineau, and they deny that they are correct. That the Southern ladies are very apt to express great horror at living too long a time at the plantations, is very certain; not, however, because they expect to be murdered in their beds by the slaves, as they tell their husbands, but because they are anxious to spend more of their time at the cities, where they can enjoy more luxury and amusement than can be procured at the plantations.
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA. November 29, 1841 Encounter with Recent English Emigrant
On entering the station-house of a railway which was to carry us to our place of embarkation, we found a room with only two chairs in it. One of these was occupied by a respectable-looking woman, who immediately rose, intending to give it up, to me, an act betraying that she was English, and newly-arrived, as an American gentleman, even if already seated, would have felt it necessary to rise and offer the chair to any woman, whether mistress or maid, and she, as a matter of course, would have accepted the proffered seat. After I had gone out, she told my wife that she and her husband had come a few months before from Hertfordshire, hoping to get work in Virginia, but she had discovered that there was no room here for poor white people, who were despised by the very negroes if they laboured with their own hands. She had found herself looked down upon, even for carrying her own child, for they said she ought to hire a black nurse. These poor emigrants were now anxious to settle in some free state.
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. December 28, 1841. Provisions for Slaves.
Returning home to this hospitable mansion in the dusk of the evening of the day following, I was surprised to see, in a grove of trees near the court-yard of the farm, a Iarge wood-fire blazing on the ground. Over the fire hung three cauldrons, filled, as I afterwards learned, with hog's lard, and three old negro women, in their usual drab-coloured costume, were leaning over the cauldrons, and stirring the lard to clarify it. The red glare of the fire was reflected from their faces, and I need hardly say how much they reminded me of the scene of the witches in Macbeth. Beside them, moving slowly backwards and forwards in a rockingchair, sat the wife of the overseer, muffled up in a cloak, and suffering from a severe cold, but obliged to watch the old slaves, who are as thoughtless as children, and might spoil the lard if she turned away her head for a few minutes. When I inquired the meaning of this ceremouy, I was told it was " killing time," this being the coldest season of the year, and that since I left the farm in the morning thirty hogs had been sacrificed by the side of a running stream not far off.
These were destined to serve as winter provisions for the negroes, of whom there were about a hundred on this plantation. To supply all of them with food, clothes, and medical attendants, young, old, and impotent, as well as the able-bodied, is but a portion of the expense of slave-labour. They must be continually superintended by trustworthy whites, who might often perform no small part of the task, and far more effectively, with their own hands.
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. January 13, 1842 Purchase Price for Slaves; Slave Wedding.
After the accounts I had read of the sufferings of slaves, I was agreeably surprised to find them, in general, so remarkably cheerful and light-hearted. It is true that I saw no gangs working under overseers on suga plantations, but out of two millions and a half of slaves in the United States, thee larger proportion are engaged in such farming occupations and domestic services as I witnessed in Georgia and South Carolina. I was often for days together with negroes who served me as guides, and found them as talkative and chatty as children, usually boasting of their master's wealth, and their own peculiar merits. At an inn in Virginia, a female slave asked us to guess for how many dollars a year she was let out by her owner. We named a small sum, but she told us exultingly, that we were much under the mark, for the landlord paid fifty dollars, or ten guineas a year for her hire. A good-humoured butler, at another inn in the same state, took care to tell me that his owner got 30l a year for him. The coloured stewardess of a steam-vessel was at great painS to tell us her value, and how she came by the name of Queen Victoria. When we recollect that the dollars are not their own, we can hardly refrain from smiling at the childlike simplicity with which they express their satisfaction at the high price set on them. That price, however, is a fair test of their intelligence and moral worth, of which they have just reason to feel proud, and their pride is at least free from all sordid and mercenary considerations. We might even say that they labour with higher motives than the whites-a disinterested love of doing their duty. I am aware that we may reflect and philosophise on this peculiar and amusing form of vanity, until we perceive in it the evidence of extreme social degrradation; but the first impression which it made upon my mind was very consolatory, as I found it impossible to feel a painful degree of commiseration for persons so exceedingly well satisfied with themselves
South Carolina is one of the few states where there is a numerical preponderance of slaves. One night, at Charleston, I went to see the guard-house, where there is a strong guard kept constantly in arms, and on the alert. Every citizen is obliged to serve in person, or find a substitute; and the maintenance of such a force, the strict laws against importing books relating to emancipation, and the prohibition to bring back slaves who have been taken by their masters into free states, allow that the fears of the owner, whether well-founded or not, are real.
During our stay at Charleston, we were present at a negro wedding, where the bride and bridegroom, and nearly all the company, were of unmixed African race. They were very merry. The bride and bridemaids all dressed in white. The marriage service performed by an Episcopal clergyman. Not long afterwards, when staying at a farm-house in North Carolina, I happened to ask a planter if one of his negroes with whom we had been conversing was married. He told me, Yes, he had a wife on that estate, as well as another, her sister, on a different property which belonged to him; but that there was no legal validity in the marriage ceremony. I remarked, that he must be mistaken, as an Episcopal minister at Charleston would not have lent himself to the performance of a sacred rite, if it were nugatory in practice, and in the eye of the law. He replied, that he himself was a lawyer by profession, and that no legal validity ever had been, or ought to he, given to the marriage tie, so long as the right of sale could separate parent and child, husband and wife. Such separations, he said, could not always be prevented, when slaves multiplied fast, though they were avoided by the masters as far as possible. He defended the custom of bringing up the children of the same estate in common, as it was far more humane not to cherish domestic ties among slaves. On the same farm I talked with several slaves who had been set to fell timber by task-work, and had finished by the middle of the day. They never appeared to be overworked; and the rapidity with which they increase beyond the whites in the United States shows that they are not in a state of discomfort, oppression, and misery. Doubtless, in the same manner as in Ireland and parts of Great Britain, the want of education, mental culture, and respect for themselves, favours improvident marriages among the poor; so the state of mere animal existence of the slave, and his low moral and intellectual condition, coupled with kind treatment and all freedom from care, promote their multiplication. The effect of the institution on the progress of the whites is most injurious, and, after travelling in the northern States, and admiring their rapid advance, it is most depressing to the spirits. There appears to be no place in society for poor whites. If they are rich, their slaves multiply, and from motives of kindly feeling towards retainers, and often from false pride, they are very unwilling to sell them. Hence They are constantly tempted to maintain a larger establishment than is warranted by the amount of their capital, and they often become involved in their circumstances, and finally bankrupt. The prudence, temper, and decision of character required to manage a plantation successfully is very great. It is notorious that the hardest taskmasters to the slaves are those who come from the northern free States.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA. March 17, 1841 Female Abolitionists; Schism of the American Anti-Slavery Society on "the Women's Rights Question."
In the summer of 1837, SARAH and ANGELINA GRIMKE visited New England for the purpose of advocating the cause of the slave, with whose condition they were well acquainted, being natives of South Carolina, and having been themselves at one time implicated in the system. Their original intention was to confine their public labours to audiences of their own sex, but they finally addressed promiscuous assemblies. Their intimate knowledge of the true character of slavery; their zeal, devotion, and gifts as speakers, produced a deep impression, wherever they went. They met with considerable opposition from colonizationists, and also from a portion of the New England clergy, on the ground of the impropriety of their publicly addressing mixed audiences. This called forth in the Liberator, which at that time, I understand, was under the patronage, though I believe not under the control, of the Massachussets Anti-Slavery Society, a discussion of the abstract question of the entire equality of the rights and duties of the two sexes. Here was a new element of discord. ln 1838, at the annual New England convention of abolitionists, a woman was for the first time placed on committees with men, an innovation upon the general custom of the community, which excited much dissatisfaction in the minds of many. Under these circumstances it is is easy to understand the interruption, for a season, of the unity of feeling and action which had previously characterised the assemblies of the abolitionists. The actual separation in the societies took place in the Spring of 1840. The members of the executive committee at New York, with one exception, seceded and became members of the committee of the "new organisation," under the name of the " American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society." There are, therefore, now two central or national anti-slavery societies: the " old organization," retaining the designation of the "American Anti-slavery Society." The State Societies have, for the most part, taken up a position of neutrality, or independence of both. It is important to add that the division took place on the " women's rights" question, and that this is the only one of the controverted points which the American Anti-Slavery Society has officially affirmed-- and it is argued, on behalf of their view of this question, that since, in the original "constitution" of the society, the term, describing its members, officers, et cet. is " persons " that women are plainly invested with the same eligibility to appointments, and the same right to vote and act as the other sex. I need not say how this "constitutional" argument is met on the other side. The other new views are held by comparatively few persons, and neither anti-slavery society in America is responsible for them. In conclusion, I rejoice to be able to add, that the separation, in its effects, appears to have been a healing measure; a better and kinder feeling is beginning to pervade all classes of American abolitionists-- the day of mutual crimination seems to be passing away, and there is strong reason to hope that the action of the respective societies will henceforward harmoniously tend to the same object. That such may be the result is my sincere desire. It is proper in this connexion to state that a considerable number of active and prominent abolitionists, do not entirely sympathise with either division of the anti-slavery society; and there are comparatively few who make their views, for or against the question on which the division took place, a matter of conscience.
I have now given a brief, and I trust an impartial account of the origin of these dissensions. Some may possibly regard the views and proceedings above referred to, as the natural growth of abolitionism, but as well might the divisions among the early reformers be charged upon the doctrines of the Reformation, or the "thirty year's war," upon the preaching of Luther.
On the evening of the 14th. instant, we met at a social party the leading abolitionists of Philadelphia of the "old organization." There were present all but one of the delegates from Pennsylvania to the London Convention. I availed myself of the opportunity of briefly and distinctly stating the unanimous conclusion of the London Anti-slavery Committee, in which I entirely concurred, on the points at issue. I observed, in substance, that in the struggle for the liberation of the slaves in the British Colonies, one great source of our moral strength was, the singleness of our object, and our not allowing any other subject, however important or unexceptionable, to be mixed up with it-- that though the aid of our female coadjutors had been of vital importance to the success of the anti-slavery enterprise, yet that their exertions had been uniformly directed by separate committees of their own sex, and that the abolitionists of Europe had no doubt that their united influence was most powerful in this mode of action: that the London Committee being convinced that no female delegate had crossed the Atlantic, under the belief that the 'call' or invitation was intended to include women, felt themselves called upon without in the slightest degree wishing to interfere with private opinion on this, or any other subject, to withhoId their assent to the reception of such delegates, as members of the Convention, and that their decision, when appealed against, had been ratified in the Convention itself, by an overwhelming majority, after a protracted discussion: finally, that those whose views I represented, could not be parties to the introduction in any future convention of this or any other question, which we deemed foreign to our cause, and therefore that for those with whom it was a point of conscience to carry out what they deemed " women's rights," I saw no alternative but a separate organization, in which I wished that their efforts on behalf of the oppressed coloured race, might be crowned with the largest measure of success. I observed, in conclusion, that my object was simply to state the decision of those with whom I acted in Great Britain, and that I must decline discussion, being fully convinced that it was better that the now separate societies should aim at the common object, in a spirit of kind and friendly co-operation, each in its own sphere, rather than that they should waste their energies in mutual contentions, and in the unprofitable discussion of topics not legitimately belonging to the great question of the abolition of slavery.
Although I had to address a company almost unanimously opposed on these points to myself, my communication was received in a kind and friendly spirit, and I was courteously informed that it would be taken into consideration at the next meeting of the Committee.
On the the burning of Pennsylvania Hall by a pro-slavery mob, 1838.
As an illustration, I quote the following scene from a letter addressed to me by ROBERT PURVIS, an intelligent and educated man of colour, and the son in law of JAMES FORTEN, who has already been introduced to my readers.
" In regard to my examination before the jury in the Pennsylvania Hall case, I have to say, that it was both a painful and ludicrous affair. At one time the fulness of an almost bursting heart was ready to pour forth in bitter denunciation-then the miserable absurdity of the thing, rushing into my mind, would excite my risible propensities. You know the county endeavoured to defend itself against the award of damages, by proving that the abolitionists were the cause of the destruction of the building, in promoting promiscuous intermingling, in doors and out, of blacks and whites, thereby exciting public feeling, &c. A witness, whose name I now forget, in proof of this point, stated, that upon a certain day, hour, &c., a 'negress' approached the hall, in a carriage, when a white man assisted her in getting out, offered his arm, which was instantly accepted, and he escorted her to the saloon of the building. In this statement he was collected, careful, and solemn-minutely describing the dress, appearance of the parties, as well as the carriage, the exact time, &c.-the clerks appointed for the purpose taking down every word, and the venerable jurors locking credulous and horror-stricken. Upon being called to rebut the testimony of the county's witness, I, in truth and simplicity, confirmed his testimony in every particular ! ! The attorney, on our behalf, DAVID PAUL BROWN, Esq., a gentleman, scholar, and philanthropist, in a tone of irony peculiarly severe, demanded, ' whether I had the unblushing impudence, in broad day-light, to offer my arm to my wife ?' I replied, in deep affectation of the criminality involved, that the only palliation I could offer, for conduct so outrageous was, that it was unwittingly done, it seemed so natural. This, as you might well suppose, produced some merriment at the expense of the witness for the county, and of all others, whose gullibility and prejudice had given credit to what would have been considered, had I been what is called a white man, an awful story."
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT. Meeting of the State Abolition Society; Efforts of Female Abolitionists May 19, 1841
I proceeded by way of New York to Hartford in Connecticut, in order to be present at an anti-slavery meeting of the State society, to which I had been invited. On my arrival on the afternoon of the 19th. I found the meeting assembled, and in the chair my friend J. T. NORTON-- a member of the Connecticut Legislature, a munificent and uncompromising friend to the Anti-slavery cause, and one of the delegates to the London Convention. A black minister of religion addressed the meeting in an able and interesting manner. Soon after the close of his speech, a circumstance quite unexpected to me, introduced a discussion on the right of women to vote and publicly act, conjointly with men. The chairman decided that the motion in favour of it was negatived, but the minority required the names on both sides to be taken down; this consumed much time, and disturbed the harmony of the meeting. I attended in the evening a committee of the legislaturc, which was sitting at the court house, to hear the speeches of persons who were allowed to address the committee in support of a petition that the word "white" should be expunged from the constitution of Connecticut. This change would of course give equal rights to the coloured class. When I entered, the same coloured minister I had heard in the afternoon, was addressing the committee. He was listened to with great attention, not only by the members, but by near two hundred of the inhabitants, who were present. He was followed on the same side, by a wnite gentleman in a very strong and uncompromising speech. The next day I paid my respects to WILLIAM W. ELLSWORTH, the Governor of the State, and to one of the judges of the court; and afterwards attended the adjourned meeting of the Anti-slavery Society. The vexed question of "women's rights" was again brought forward in another shape; the names on both sides again called for, with the same result as before. My belief was fully confirmed, that those who differ so widely in sentiment, have no alternative but to meet and act in distinct organizations.
The Amistad captives arrived at Hartford on the afternoon of the same day, and were to address a meeting in the evening. An anti-slavery bazaar or fair which I visited this day, furnished ample testimony of the zeal of the female friends of the oppressed slave in this district. I returned the same evening to New Haven, and subsequently received a copy of two resolutions, approving the proceedings of the general Anti slavery Convention, in which it is stated by the Connecticut anti-slavery committee, "they have abundant evidence that the cause of the slave has been essentially promoted thereby;" also recommending "that a convention of men from all parts of the world, friendly to the cause of immediate emancipation, be again called in London, in the summer of 1842."
WASHINGTON. June 1841 Visit to a Slave Trading Establishment.
In the afternoon I proceeded by a steam packet, with one of my friends, to Alexandria, about six miles distant, on the other side of the Potomac. A merchant, to whom I had an introduction, kindly accompanied us to a slave-trading establishment there, which is considered the principal one in the district. The proprietor was absent; but the person in charge, a stout, middle aged man, with a good-natured countenance, which little indicated his employment, readily consented to show us over the establishment. On passing behind the house, we looked through a grated iron door, into a square court or yard, with very high walls, in which were about fifty slaves. Some of the younger ones were dancing to a fiddle, an affecting proof, in their situation, of the degradation caused by slavery. There were, on the other hand, others who seemed a prey to silent dejection. Among these was a woman, who had run away from her master twelve years ago, and had married and lived ever since as a free person. She was at last discovered, taken and sold, along with her child, and would shortly be shipped to New Orleans, unless her husband could raise the means of her redemption, which we understood he was endeavouring to do. If he failed, they are lost to him for ever. Another melancholy looking woman was here with her nine children, the whole family having been sold away from their husband and father, to this slave-dealer, for two thousand two hundred and fifty dollars. This unfeeling separation is but the beginning of their sorrows. They will, in all probability, be re-sold at New Orleans, scattered and divided, until not perhaps two of them are left together. The most able-bodied negro I saw, cost the slave-dealer six hundred and eighty-five dollars.
Our guide told us that they sometimes sent from this house from fifteen hundred to two thousand slaves to the south in a year, and that they occasionally had three hundred to four hundred at once in their possession. That the trade was not now so brisk, but that prices were rising. The return and profits of this traffic appear to be entirely regulated by the fluctuations in the value of the cotton. Women are worth one-third less than men. But one instance of complete escape ever occurred from these premises, though some of the slaves were occasionally trusted out into the fields. He showed us the substantial clothing, shoes, &c., with which the slaves were supplied when sent to the south; a practice, I fear, enforced more by the cupidity of the buyers, than the humanity of the seller. Our informant stated, in answer to enquiries, that by the general testimony of the slaves purchased, they were treated better by the planters than was the case ten years ago. He also admitted the evils of the system, and said, with apparent sincerity, he wished it was put an end to.
APPENDIX H: Letter from Abraham Pennock, June 28 1841, to the American Anti-Slavery Society. Pennock Explains He Cannot Support the Decision of the Society to Admit Women; Tenders his Resignation.
" To the Executive Committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society.
"Other reasons than those which will be presented in this letter, made it desirable to me to be released from any official connection with the Anti-slavery Society. I thought those reasons so well known to some of the delegates from the Pennsylvania Society and withal they were deemed by me of so much value, that I felt both surprise and regret at understanding that my name was continued as one of the Vice-presidents of the Parent Society. Thus saying, I am nevertheless bound to express my indebtedness for the kind feeling toward me, and confidence in my love for the slave, which doubtlessly induced the appointment.
" By an accident to my Anti-slavery newspapers, I have just received the proceedings of the society at the above meeting. I am sorry to find in them superadded reasons for regret at my appointment-as that appointment seems to place me in the false position of appearing to be in favour of its leading measures; some of which, denunciatory of co-labourers in the abolition cause, have not my unity.
"In the heavy responsibilities of the former Executive Committee, I find a sufficient reason for their transfer of the Emancipator, and other property for which they stood personally engaged ; and I therefore cannot join in affirming such transfer to be a flagrant breach of trust; and their answer in justification of their course, an attempt to defend, which betrays an utter disregard of the rights of abolitionists.
"Believing in the intellectual equality of the sexes, I go fully for women's rights and duties. They possess a moral force of immense power, which they are bound to exert for the good of mankind, including emphatically so, those who are in the hopeless and most wretched condition of slaves. The belief of the value of female cooperation is common to the Anti-slavery community, and the only question regarding it which has arisen, is, whether it shall be exerted in societies and conventions of women, or in societies and conventions of men and women, irrespective of sex. The question is of recent date, not even coeval with the modern Anti-slavery enterprise; and the practice, at the origination of this enterprise, that of separate action. We can all bear testimony to the powerful impression upon the public mind, made by women acting singly, or in societies and conventions, before it was thought of merging their influence in a joint stock community with their brethren. Where can we find an Anti-slavery organization more potential, and so dignified, as was the Convention of American women ? Is it therefore surprising that the question has not been conclusively settled by American abolitionists, that women ought to act identically on the same platform, and in the same society with men; and that the practice, founded on this plan, still remains measurably local, and by many, conforming to it, is deemed experimental.
"In convening a world's convention, no innovation upon the general social usages was contemplated by our brethren in England who called it. The Convention was meant to be a Convention of men, and what was deficient of explicituess in the first notice, was amply made up in the reiteration of the call. It was fully knewn, before the appointment of delegates by the American Anti-slavery Society, that the intention of the Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, was such as is above explained. The views ofthe inviting party being known, it was competent to the invited to accept or reject the invitation, but not to modify its terms. The American Society, however, in face of the invitation, with a knowledge of the extreme sensitiveness of that portion of the British people whom the Convention would deem it important to conciliate, to any innovation upon established forms, and itself not united in discarding the distinctions of sex,- resolved to send female delegates to the Convention, and thus, in effect, to appeal from the Committee to the parimlount authority of the Convention, and with it to settle the American question.
"In exercising this authority, we are to suppose, from the high moral, intellectual, and philanthropic standing of its members, the Convention, in adhering to the gelleral usages of society, meant to perpetrate no injustice; and we know, from their very respectful attention to the rejected delegates, that they were influenced by no want of courtesy-I am satisfied that they acted according to their best impressions of duty, the carrying out of which was their high aim; and that the Convention,was not the less a world's Convention, because it did not embrace both sexes as its members, or any reforms without the scope of its call. I cannot unite, therefore, in the resoIutions declaring tbe proceedings of the British and Foreign AntiSlavery Society arbitrary and despotic; or the act of the London Conference, excluding the female delegates of the American Society appointed in contradiction to the terms of the invitation, as highly disrespectful to the delegates, and to us, their constituents, tyrannical in its nature, mischievous in its tendencies, and unworthy of men claiming the character of abolitionists.
"Thus my views, not being in harmony with the action of the society, in the particulars above referred to, my duty to it and myself is, to tender you this as my resignation of the office of Vice President for Pennsylvania, and not to await another election for withdrawing from it.
"With no heart for the controrersies which have got in among my brethren, the common friends of the enslaved, and which are sadly wasting their anti-slavery strength, but with a warm heart for the legitimate objects of the American Anti-slavery Society, I shall not cease anxiously to desire its prosperity and speedy trimllph, within these just limitations.
(Signed,) ABRAHAM L. PENNOCK.
Haverford, 6th Month, 28th, 1841."
NEW YORK CITY. Spring 1842. A Coloured Ball at Almack's.
Our leader has his hand upon the latch of "Almack's," and calls to us from the bottom of the steps; for the assemblyroom of the Five Point fashionables is approached by a descent. Shall we go in? It is but a moment.
Heyday! the landlady of Almack's thrives! A buxom fat mulatto woman, with sparkling eyes, whose head is daintily ornamented with a handkerchief of many colours. Nor is the landlord much behind her in his finery, being attired in a smart blue jacket, like a ship's steward, with a thick gold ring upon his little finger, and round his neck a gleaming golden watch-guard. How glad he is to see us! What will we please to call for? A dance? It shall be done directly, Sir: "a regular break-down."
The corpulent black fiddler, and his friend who plays the tambourine stamp upon the boarding of the small raised orchestra in which they sit, and play a lively measure. Five or six couples come upon the floor, marshalled by a lively young negro who is the wit of the assembly, and the greatest dancer known. He never leaves off making queer faces, and is the delight of all the rest, who grin from ear to ear incessandy. Among the dancers are two young mulatto girls, with large, black, drooping eyes, and head-gear after the fashion of the hostess, who are as shy, or feign to be, as though they never danced before, and so look down before the visitors, that their partners can see nothing but the long fringed lashes.
But the dance commences. Every gentleman sets as long as he likes to the opposite lady, and the opposite lady to him, and all are so long about it that the sport begins to languish, when suddenly the lively hero dashes in to the rescue. Instantly the fiddler grins, and goes at it tooth and nail; there is new energy in the tambourine; new laughter in the dancers; new smiles in the landlady; new confidence in the landlord; new brightness in the very candles. Single shuffle, double shuffle, cut and cross-cut; snapping his fingers, rolling his eyes, turning in his knees, presenting the backs of his legs in front, spinning about on his toes and heels like nothing but the man's fingers on the tambourine; dancing with two left legs, two right legs, two wooden legs, two wire legs, two spring legs-all sorts of legs and no legs-what is this to him? And in what walk of life, or dance of life, does man ever get such stimulating applause as thunders about him, when, having danced his partner off her feet, and himself too, he finishes by leaping gloriously on the bar-counter, and calling for something to drink, with the chuckle of a million of counterfeit Jim Crows, in one inimitable sound!
Let us try this public opinion by another test, which is important in three points of view: first, as showing how desperately timid of dhe public opinion slave-owners are, in their delicate descriptions of fugitive slaves in widely circulated newspapers; secondly, as showing how perfecdy contented the slaves are, and how very seldom they run away; thirdly, as exhibiting their entire freedom from scar, or blemish, or any mark of cruel infliction, as their pictures are drawn, not by lying abolitionists, but by their own truthful masters.
The following are a few specimens of the advertisements in the public papers. It is only four years since the oldest among them appeared; and others of the same nature continue to be published every day, in shoals.
"Ran away, Negress Caroline. Had on a collar with one prong turned down."
"Ran away, a black woman, Betsy. Had an iron bar on her right leg."
"Ran away, the negro Manuel. Much marked with irons."
"Ran away, the negress Fanny. Had on an iron band about her neck."
"Ran away, a negro boy about twelve years old. Had round his neck a chain dog-collar with 'De Lampert' engraved on it."
"Ran away, the negro Hown. Has a ring of iron on his left foot. Also, Grise, his wife, having a ring and chain on the left leg."
"Ran away, a negro boy named James. Said boy was ironed when he left me."
"Committed to jail, a man who calls his name John. He has a clog of iron on his right foot which will weigh four or five pounds."
"Detained at the police jail, the negro wench, Myra. Has several marks of LASHING, and has irons on her feet."
"Ran away, a negro woman and two children. A few days before she went off, I burnt her with a hot iron, on the left side of her face. I tried to make the letter M."
"Ran away, a negro man named Henry; his left eye out, some scars from a dirk on and under his left arm, and much scarred with the whip."
"One hundred dollars reward, for a negro fellow, Pompey, 40 years old. He is branded on the left jaw."
"Committed to jail, a negro man. Has no toes on the left foot."
"Ran away, a negro woman named Rachel. Has lost all her toes except the large one."
"Ran away, Sam. He was shot a short time since through the hand, and has several shots in his left arm and side."
"Ran away, my negro man Dennis. Said negro has been shot in the left arm between the shoulder and elbow, which has paralysed the left hand."
"Ran away, my negro man named Simon. He has been shot badly, in his back and right arm."
"Ran away, a negro named Arthur. Has a considerable scar across his breast and each arm, made by a knife; loves to talk much of the goodness of God."
"Twenty-five dollars reward for my man Isaac. He has a scar on his forehead, caused by a blow; and one on his back, made by a shot from a pistol."
"Ran away, a negro girl called Mary. Has a small scar over her eye, a good many teeth missing, the letter A is branded on her cheek and forehead."
"Ran away, negro Ben. Has a scar on his right hand: his thumb and forefinger being injured by being shot last fall. A part of the bone came out. He has also one or two large scars on his back and hips."
"Detained at the jail, a mulatto, named Tom. Has a scar on the right cheek, and appears to have been burned with powder on the face."
"Ran away, a negro man named Ned. Three of his fingers are drawn into the palm of his hand by a cut. Has a scar on the back of his neck, nearly half round, done by a knife."
"Was committed to jail, a negro man. Says his name is Josiah. His back very much scarred by the whip; and branded on the thigh and hips in three or four places, thus (J M). The rim of his right ear has been bit or cut off."
"Fifty dollars reward, for my fellow Edward. He has a scar on the corner of his mouth, two cuts on and under his arm, and the letter E on his arm."
"Ran away, negro boy Ellie. Has a scar on one of his arms from the bite of a dog."
"Ran away, from the plantation of James Surgette, the following negroes: Randal, has one ear cropped; Bob, has lost one eye; Kentucky Tom, has one jaw broken."
"Ran away, Anthony. One of his ears cut off, and his left hand cut with an axe." "Fifty dollars reward for the negro Jim Blake. Has a piece cut out of each ear, and the middle finger of the left hand cut off to the second joint."
"Ran away, a negro woman named Maria. Has a scar on one side of her cheek, by a cut. Some scars on her back."
"Ran away, the Mulatto wench Mary. Has a cut on the left arm, a scar on the left shoulder, and two upper teeth missing."
I should say, perhaps, in explanation of this latter piece of description, that among the other blessings which public opinion secures to the negroes, is the common practice of violently punching out their teeth. To make them wear iron collars by day and night, and to worry them with dogs, are practices almost too ordinary to deserve mention.
"Ran away, my man Fountain. Has holes in his ears, a scar on the right side of his forehead, has been shot in the hind parts of his legs, and is marked on the back with the whip."
"Two hundred and fifty dollars reward for my negro man Jim. He is much marked with shot in his right thigh. The shot entered on the outside, halfway between the hip and knee joints."
"Brought to jail, John. Left ear cropt."
"Taken up, a negro man. Is very much scarred about the face and body, and has the left ear bit off."
"Ran away, a black girl, named Mary. Has a scar on her cheek, and the end of one of her toes cut off."
"Ran away, my Mulatto woman, Judy. She has had her right arm broke."
"Ran away, my negro man, Levi. His left hand has been burnt, and I think the end of his forefinger is off."
"Ran away, a negro man, named WASHINGTON. Has lost a part of his middle finger, and the end of his little finger."
''Twenty-five dollars reward for my man John. The tip of his nose is bit off."
"Twenty-five dollars reward for the negro slave, Sally. Walks as though crippled in the back."
"Ran away, Joe Dennis. Has a small notch in one of his ears."
"Ran away, negro boy, Jack. Has a small crop out of his left ear."