from The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin; presenting The Original Facts and Documents Upon Which The Story Is Founded, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1853.
from The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin
by Harriet Beecher Stowe
SEPARATION OF FAMILIES
"What must the difference be," said Dr. Worthington, with startling energy, "between Isabel and her servants? To her it is loss of position, fortune, the fair hopes of life, perhaps even health; for she must inevitably break down under the unaccustomed labour and privations she will have to undergo. But to them it is merely a change of masters!"
"Yes, for the neighbours won't allow any of the families to be separated."
"Of course not. We read of such things in novels sometimes. But I have yet to see it in real life, except in rare cases, or where the slave has been guilty of some misdemeanour, or crime, for which, in the North, he would have been imprisoned, perhaps for life" -- Cabin and Parlour, by J. Thornton Randolph, p. 39.
* * * * * * *
"But they're going to sell us all to Georgia, I say. How are we to escape that?"
"Spec dare some mistake in dat," replied Uncle Peter stoutly. "I nebber knew of sich a ting in dese parts, 'cept where some niggar'd been berry bad."
By such graphic touches as the above does Mr. Thornton Randolph represent to us the patriarchal stability and security of the slave population of the Old Dominion. Such a thing as a slave being sold out of the State has never been heard of by Dr. S. Worthington, except in rare case for some crime; and old Uncle Peter never heard of such a thing in his life.
Are these representations true?
The worst abuse of the system of slavery is its outrage upon the family; and, as the writer views the subject, it is one which is more notorious and undeniable than any other.
Yet it is upon this point that the most stringent and earnest denial has been made to the representations of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," either indirectly, as by the romance-writer above, or more directly in the assertions of newspapers, both at the North and at the South. When made at the North, they indicate, to say the least, very great ignorance of the subject; when made at the South, they certainly do very great injustice to the general character of the Southerner for truth and honesty. All sections of country have faults peculiar to themselves. The fault of the South, as a general thing, has not been cowardly evasion and deception. It was with utter surprise that the author read the following sentences in an article in Fraser's Magazine, professing to come from a South Carolinian: --
Mrs. Stowe's favourite illustration of the master's power to the injury of the slave is the separation of families. We are told of infants of ten months old being sold from the arms of their mothers, and of men whose habit it is to raise children, to sell away from their mother as soon as they are old enough to be separated. Were our views of this feature of slavery derived from Mrs. Stowe's book, we should regard the families of slaves as utterly unsettled and vagrant.
And again -
We feel confident that, if statistics could be had to throw light upon this subject, we should find that there is less separation of families among the negroes than occurs with almost any other class of persons.
As the author of the article, however, is evidently a man of honour, and expresses many most noble and praiseworthy sentiments, it cannot be supposed that these statements were put forth with any view to misrepresent or to deceive. They are only to be regarded as evidences of the facility with which a sanguine mind often overlooks the most glaring facts that make against a favourite idea or theory, or which are unfavourable in their bearings on one's own country or family. Thus the citizens of some place notoriously unhealthy will come to believe, and assert, with the utmost sincerity, that there is actually less sickness in their town than any other of its size in the known world. Thus parents often think their children perfectly immaculate in just those particulars in which others see them to be most faulty. This solution of the phenomena is a natural and amiable one, and enables us to retain our respect for our Southern brethren.
There is another circumstance, also, to be taken into account, in reading such assertions as these. It is evident, from the pamphlet in question, that the writer is one of the few who regard the possession of absolute irresponsible power as the highest of motives to moderation and temperance in its use. Such men are commonly associated in friendship and family connexion with others of similar views, and are very apt to fall into the error of judging others by themselves, and thinking that a thing may do for all the world because it operates well in their immediate circle. Also, it cannot but be a fact that the various circumstances which from infancy conspire to degrade and depress the negro in the eyes of a Southern-born man - the constant habit of speaking to them, and hearing them spoken of, and seeing them advertised, as mere articles of property, often in connexion with horses, mules, fodder, swine, &c., as they are almost daily in every Southern paper - must tend, even in the best-constituted minds, to produce a certain obtuseness with regard to the interests, sufferings, and affections, of such as do not particularly belong to himself, which will peculiarly unfit him for estimating their condition. The author has often been singularly struck with this fact, in the letters of southern friends; in which, upon one page, they will make some assertion regarding the condition of Southern negroes, and then go on, and in other connexions state facts which apparently contradict them all. We can all be aware how this familiarity would operate with ourselves. Were we called upon to state how often our neighbours' cows were separated from their calves, or how often their household furniture and other effects are scattered and dispersed by executors' sales, we should be inclined to say that it was not a misfortune of very common occurrence.
But let us open two South Carolina papers, published in the ver State where this gentleman is residing, and read the advertisements FOR ONE WEEK. The author has slightly abridged them: --
COMMISSIONERS' SALE OF TWELVE LIKELY NEGROES.In pursuance of an order of the Court of Equity made in the above case at July Term, 1852, I will sell at public outcry, "to the highest bidder, before the Court House in Winnsboro', on the first Monday in January next,
R.W. Murray and Wife and others
William Wright and Wife and Others,
TWELVE VERY LIKELY NEGROES.
belonging to the estate of Micajah Mobley, deceased, late of Fairfield District.
These negroes consist chiefly of young boys and girls, and are said to be very likely.
Terms of Sale, &c.
Winnsboro', Nov. 30. 1852,
Dec. 2. x4.
Will be sold at public outcry, to the highest bidder, on Tuesday, the 21st day of December next, at the late residence of Mrs. M. P. Rabb, deceased, all of the personal estate of said deceased, consisting in part of about -
2,000 Bushels of Corn.There will, in all probability, be sold at the same time and place several likely Young Negroes.
25,000 Pounds of Fodder.
Wheat - Cotton Seed.
Horses, Mules, Cattle, Hogs, Sheep.
The Terms of Sale will be - all sums under Twenty-five Dollars, Cash. All sums of Twenty-five Dollars and over, twelve months' credit, with interest, from day of Sale, secured by note and two approved securities.
William S. Rabb,
Nov. 11. 39 x2.
COMMISSIONERS' SALE OF LAND AND NEGROES.
James E. Caldwell, Administrator,
with the Will annexed of
Jacob Gibson, deceased,
v.Jason D. Gibson and Others,
In pursuance of the order of sale made in the above case, I will sell at public outcry, to the highest bidder, before the Court House in Winnsboro', on the first Monday in January next, and the day following, the following real and personal estate of Jacob Gibson, deceased, late of Fairfield District, to wit:
The plantation on which the testator lived at the time of his death, containing 661 acres, more or less, lying on the waters of Wateree Creek, and bounded by lands of Samuel Johnston, Theodore S. du Bose, Edward P. Mobley, B.R. Cockrell. This Plantation will be sold in two separate tracts, plats of which will be exhibited on the day of sale:
FORTY-SIX PRIME LIKELY NEGROES,
Consisting of Waggoners, Blacksmiths, Cooks, House Servants, &c.
Commissioner's Office,Winnsobor', 29th Nov., 1852.
ESTATE SALE. - FIFTY PRIME NEGROES. BY J. & L. T. LEVIN.On the first Monday in January next I will sell, before the Court House in Columbia, 50 of as likely Negroes as have ever been exposed to public sale, belonging to the estate of A.P. Vinson, deceased. The Negroes have been well cared for, and well managed in every respect. Persons wishing to purchase will not, it is confidently believed, have a better opportunity to supply themselves.
Nov. 18. 40 x3 ADMINISTRATOR'S SALE.
Will be sold on the 15th December next, at the late residence of Samuel Moore, deceased, in York District, all the personal property of said deceased, consisting of
THIRTY-FIVE LIKELY NEGROES;
a quantity of Cotton and Corn, Horses and Mules, Farming Tools, Household and Kitchen Furniture, with many other articles.
SAMUEL E. MOORE, Administrator.
Nov.23. 40 x4t
ADMINISTRATOR'S SALE.Will be sold at public outcry to the highest bidder, on Tuesday, the 14th day of December next, at the late residence of Robert W. Durham, deceased, in Fairfield District, all of the personal estate of said deceased; consisting in part as follows:
50 PRIME LIKELY NEGROES.
About 3000 Bushels of Corn.Wheat, Oats, Cow Peas, Rye, Cotton Seed, Horses, Mules, Cattle, Hogs, Sheep.
A large quantity of Fodder.
Nov.23. C.H. DURHAM, Administrator.
By virtue of sundry executions to me directed, I will sell at Fairfield Court House, on the first Monday, and the day following, in December next, within the legal hours of sale, to the highest bidder, for cash, the following property. Purchaser to pay for titles.
2 NEGROES, levied upon as the property of Allen R. Crankfield, at the suit of Alexander Brodie, et al.
2 Horses and 1 Jennet, levied upon as the property of Allen R. Crankfield, at the suit of Alexander Brodie.
2 Mules, levied upon as the property of Allen R. Crankfield, at the suit of Temperance E. Miller and J.W. Miller.
1 pair of Cart Wheels, levied upon as the property of Allen R. Crankfield, at the suit of Temperance E. Miller and J.W. Miller.
1 Chest of Drawers, levied upon as the property of Allen R. Crankfield, at the suit of Temperance E. Miller and J.W. Miller.
1 Bedstead, levied upon as the property of Allen R. Crankfield, at the suit of Temperance E. Miller and J.W. Miller.
1 NEGRO, levied upon as the property of R.J. Gladney, at the suit of James Camak.
1 NEGRO, levied upon as the property of Geo. McCormick, at the suit of W.M. Phifer.
1 Riding Saddle, to be sold under an assignment of G.W. Boulware to J.B. Mickle, in the case of Geo. Murphy, Jr., v. G.S. Boulware.
R.E. ELLISON, Sheriff's Office, Nov. 19, 1852. S.F.D. Nov.20. 37 +xtf
John A. Crumpton and others
Zachariah C. Crumpton.
In pursuance of the Decretal order made in this case, I will sell at public outcry to the highest bidder before the Court House door in Winnsboro', on the first Monday in December next, three separate tracts or parcels of land, belonging to the estate of Zachariah Crumpton, deceased.
I will also sell, at the same time and place, FIVE OR SIX LIKELY YOUNG NEGROES, sold as the property of the said Zachariah Crumpton, deceased, by virtue of the authority aforesaid.
The terms of sale are as follows, &c. &c.
W.R. Robertson, Commissioners' Office, Winnsboro', Nov. 8, 1852. C.E.F.D. Nov.11. 30 x3
ESTATE SALE OF VALUABLE PROPERTY.
The undersigned, as Administrator of the Estate of Col. T. Randell, deceased, will sell, on Monday, the 20th December next, all the personal property belonging to said estate, consisting of
56 NEGROESTerms of Sale, &c. &c.
STOCK, CORN, FODDER, ETC. ETC.
Sept. 2. 29 x16
The Tri-Weekly South Carolinian, published at Columbia, S.C., has this motto: --
"BE JUST AND FEAR NOT; LET ALL THE ENDS THOU AIM'ST AT BE THY COUNTRY'S, THY GOD'S, AND TRUTH'S."
In the number dated December 23, 1852, is found a "Reply of the Women of Virginia to the Women of England," containing this sentiment: --
Believe us, we deeply, prayerfully, study God's Holy Word; we are fully persuaded that our institutions are in accordance with it.
After which, in other columns, come the ten advertisements following: --
SHERIFF'S SALES FOR JANUARY 2, 1853.By virtue of sundry writs of fieri facias, to me directed, will be sold before the Court House in Columbia, within the legal hours, on the first Monday and Tuesday in January next -
Seventy-four acres of Land, more or less, in Richland District, bounded on the north and east by Lorick's nad on the south and west by Thomas Trapp.
Also, Ten Head of Cattle, Twenty-five Head of Hogs, and Two Hundred Bushels of Corn, levied on as the property of M.A. Wilson, at the suit of Samuel Gardner v M.A. Wilson.
SEVEN NEGROES, named Grace, Frances, Edmund, Charlotte, Emuline, Thomas, and Charles, levied on as the property of Bartholomew Turnipseed, at the suit of A.F. Dubard, J.S. Lever, Bank of the State and others v B. Turnipseed.
450 acres of Land, more or less, in Richland District, bounded on the north, &c. &c.
LARGE SALE OF REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY. - ESTATE SALE.
On Monday, the (7th) seventh day of February next, I will sell at Auction, without reserve, at the Plantation, near Linden, all the Horses, Mules, Waggons, Farming Utensils, Corn, Fodder, &c.
And on the following Monday (14th), the fourteenth day of February next, at the Court House, at Linden, in Marengo County, Alabama, I will sell at public auction, without reserve, to the highest bidder,
ONE HUNDRED AND TEN PRIME AND LIKELY NEGROES,
belonging to the Estate of the late John Robinson, of South Carolina.
Among the negroes are four valuable Carpenters and a very superior Blacksmith.
NEGROES FOR SALE.
By permission of Peter Wylie, Esq., Ordinary for Chester District, I will sell, at public auction, before the Court House, in Chesterville, on the first Monday in February next,
FORTY LIKELY NEGROES
belonging to the Estate of F.W. Davie.
W.D. De Saussure, Executor. Dec. 23. 56 +tds.
ESTATE SALE OF FURNITURE, &c., BY J. & L.T. LEVIN.
Will be sold, at our Sotre, on Thursday, the 6th day of January next, all the Household and Kitchen belonging to the Estate of B.L. McLaughlin, deceased, consisting in part of
Hair-seat Chairs, Sofas, and Rockers, Piano-Mahogany, Dining, Tea, and Card-Tables; Carpets, Rugs, Andirons, Fenders, Shovel and Tongs, Mantel Ornaments, Clocks, Side Board, Bureaus, Mahogany Bedsteads, Feather Beds and Mattresses, Wash Stands, Curtains, find Cordial Stand, Glassware, Crockery, and a great variety of articles for family use.
A NEGRO MAN, named Leonard, belonging to the same.
At same time, a quantity of New Brick, belonging to Estate of A.S. Johnstone, deceased.
Dec.21. 53 ++tds.
GREAT SALE OF NEGROES AND THE SALUDA FACTORY, BY J. & L.T. LEVIN.
On Thursday, December 30, at 11 o'clock, will be sold at the Court House in Columbia,
ONE HUNDRED VALUABLE NEGROES.
It is seldom such an opportunity occurs as now offers. Among them are only four beyond 45 years old, and none above 50. There are twenty-five prime young men, between 16 and 30; forty of the most likely young women, and as fine a set of children as can be shown ! !
Terms, &c. Dec. 18, '52.
NEGROES AT AUCTION. - BY J. & L.T. LEVIN.
Will be sold, on Monday, the 3rd of January next, at the Court House at 10 o'clock,
22 LIKELY NEGROES, the larger number of which are young and desirable.
Among them are Field Hands, and Carriage Drivers, House Servants, &c., and of the following ages: Robinson 40, Elsey 34, Yanky 13, Sylla 11, Anikee 8, Robinson 6, Candy 3, Infant 9, Thomas 35, Die 38, Amey 18, Eldridge 13, Charles 6, Sarah 60, Baket 50, Mary 18, Betty 16, Guy 12, Tilla 9, Lydia 24, Rachel 4, SCIPIO 2.
The above negroes are sold for the purpose of making some other investment of the proceeds; the sale, will, therefore, be positive.
Terms. - A credit of one, two, and three years, for notes payable at either of the Banks, with two or more approved endorsers, with interest from date. Purchasers to pay for papers.
Dec. 8, '43.
*** Black River Watchman will copy the above, and forward bill to the auctioneers for payment.
Poor little Scip!
LIKELY AND VALUABLE GIRL AT PRIVATE SALE.
A LIKELY GIRL, about seventeen years old (raised in the up-country), a good Nurse and House Servant, can wash and iron, and do plain cooking, and is warranted sound and healthy. She may be seen at our office, where she will remain until sold.
ALLEN & PHILLIPS, Dec.15, '49. Auctioneers and Com. Agents.
PLANTATION AND NEGROES FOR SALE.The subscriber, having located in Columbia, offers for sale his Plantation in St. Matthew's Parish, six miles from the Railroad, containing 1,500 acres, now in a high state of cultivation, with Dwelling House and all necessary Out-buildings.
50 LIKELY NEGROES, with provisions &c.
The terms will be accommodating. Persons desirous to purchase can call upon the subscriber in Columbia, or on his son at the Plantation.
Dec.6, '41. T.J. Goodwin.
A LIKELY NEGRO BOY, about twenty-one years old, a good waggoner and field hand. Apply at this office.
Dec. 20, '52.
Now, it is scarcely possible that a person who has been accustomed to see such advertisements from boyhood, and to pass them over with as much indifference as we pass over advertisements of sofas and chairs for sale, could possibly receive the shock from them which one wholly unaccustomed to such a mode of considering and disposing of human beings would receive. They make no impression on him. His own family servants, and those of his friends, are not in the market, and he does not realise that any are. Under the advertisements, a hundred such scenes as those described in "Uncle Tom" may have been acting in his very vicinity. When Mr. Dickens drew pictures of the want and wretchedness of London life, perhaps a similar incredulity might have been expressed within the silken curtains of many a brilliant parlous. They had never seen such things, and they had always lived in London. But, for all that, the writings of Dickens awoke in noble and aristocratic bosoms the sense of a common humanity with the lowly, and led them to feel how much misery might exist in their immediate vicinity, of which they were entirely unaware. They have never accused him as a libeller of his country, though he did make manifest much of the suffering, sorrow, and abuse which were in it. The author is led earnestly to entreat that the writer of this very paper would examine the "statistics" of the American internal slave-trade; that he would look over the exchange files of some newspaper, and for a month or two, endeavour to keep some inventory of the number of human beings, with hearts, hopes, and affections like his own, who are constantly subjected to all the uncertainties and mutations of property relation. The writer is sure that he could not do it long without a generous desire being excited in his bosom to become, not an apologist for, but a reformer of, these institutions of his country.
These papers of South Carolina are not exceptional ones; they may be matched by hundreds of papers from any other State.
Let the reader not stop one minute, and look over again these two weeks' advertisements. This is not novel-writing -- this is fact. See these human beings tumbled promiscuously out before the public with horses, mules, second-hand buggies, cotton-seed, bedsteads, &c., &c.; and Christian ladies, in the same newspaper, saying that they prayerfully study God's word, and believe their institutions have his sanction! Does he suppose that here, in these two weeks, here have been no scenes of suffering? -- Imagine the distress of these families -- the nights of anxiety of these mothers and children, wives, and husbands, when these sales are about to take place! Imagine the scenes of the sales! A young lady, a friend of the writer, who spent a winter in Carolina, described to her the sale of a woman and her children. When the little girl, seven years of age, was put on the block, she fell into spasms with fear and excitement. She was taken off -- recovered and put back -- the spasms came back -- three times the experiment was tried, and at last the sale of the child was deferred!
See also the following, from Dr. Elwood Harvey, editor of a western paper, to the Pennsylvania Freeman, Dec. 25, 1846: --
We attended a sale of land and other property, near Petersburg, Virginia, and unexpectedly saw slaves sold at public auction. The slaves were told they would not be sold, and were collected in front of the quarters, gazing on the assembled multitude. The land being sold, the auctioneer's loud voice was heard, "Bring up the niggers!" A shade of astonishment and affright passed over their faces, as they stared first at each other, and then at the crowd of purchasers, whose attention was now directed to them. When the horrible truth was revealed to their minds that they were to be sold, and nearest relations and friends parted for ever, the effect was indescribably agonizing. Women snatched up their babes, and ran screaming into the huts. Children hid behind the huts and trees, and the men stood in mute despair. The auctioneer stood on the portico of the house, and the "men and boys" were ranging in the yard for inspection. It was announced that no warranty of soundness was given, and purchasers must examine for themselves. A few old men were sold at prices from thirteen to twenty-five dollars, and it was painful to see old men, bowed with years of toil and suffering, stand up to be the jest of brutal tyrants, and to hear them tell their disease and worthlessness, fearing that they would be bought by traders for the Southern market.
A white boy, about fifteen years old, was placed on the stand. His hair was brown and straight, his skin exactly the same hue as other white persons, and no discernible trace of negro features in his countenance.
Some vulgar jests were passed on his colour, and two hundred dollars were bid for him; but the audience said "that it was not enough to begin on for such a likely young nigger." Several remarked that they "would not have him as a gift." Some said a white nigger was more trouble than he was worth. One man said it was wrong to sell white people. I asked him if it was more wrong than to sell black people. He made no reply. Before he was sold, his mother rushed from the house upon the portico, crying, in frantic grief, "My son! Oh, my boy! They will take away my dear --." Here her voice was lost , as she was rudely pushed back, and the door closed. The sale was not for a moment interrupted, and none of the crow appeared to be in the least affected by the scene. The poor boy, afraid to cry before so many strangers, who showed no signed of sympathy or pity, trembled, and wiped the tears from his cheeks with his sleeves. He was sold for about two hundred and fifty dollars. During the sale, the quarters resounded with cries and lamentations that made my hearrt ache. A woman was next called by name. She gave her infant one wild embrace before leaving it with an old woman, and hastened mechanically to obey the call; but stopped, threw her arms aloft, screamed, and was unable to move.
One of my companions touched my should and said, "Come, let us leave here; I can bear no more." We left the ground. The man who drove our carriage from Petersburg had two sons who belonged to the estate -- small boys. He obtained a promise that they should not be sold. He was asked if they were his only children; he answered, "All that's left of eight." Three others had been sold to the South, and he would never see or hear from them again.
AS Northern people do not see such things, they should hear of them often enough to keep them awake to the sufferings of the victims of their indifference.
Such are the common incidents, not the admitted cruelties, of an institution which people have brought themselves to feel is in accordance with God's word !
Suppose it be conceded now that "the family relation is protected, as far as possible>" The question still arises, How far is it possible? Advertisements of sales to the number of those we have quoted, more or less, appear from week to week in the same papers, in the same neighbourhood; and professional traders make it their business to atten them, and buy up victims. Now, if the inhabitants of a given neighbourhood charge themselves with the care to see that no families are separated in this whirl of auctioneering, one would fancy that they could have very little else to do. It is a fact, and a most honourable on to our common human nature, that the distress and anguish of these poor helpless creatures does often raise up for them friends among the generous-hearted. Southern men often go tot the extent of their means, and beyond their means, to arrest the cruel operations of trade, and relieve cases of individual distress. There are men at the South who could tell, if they would, how, when they have spent the last dollar that they thought they could afford on one week, they have been importuned by precisely such a case the next, and been unable to meet it. There are masters at the South who could tell, if they would, how they have stood and bid against a trader, to redeem some poor slave of their own, till the bidding was perfectly ruinous, and they have been obliged to give up by sheer necessity. Good-natured auctioneers know very well how they have often been entreated to connive at keeping a poor fellow out of the trader's clutches; and how sometimes they succeed, and sometimes they do not.
The very struggle and effort which generous Southern men make to stop the regular course of trade only shows them the hopeless of the effort. We fully concede that many of them do as much or more than any of us would do under similar circumstances; and yet they know that what they do amounts, after all, to the merest trifle.
But let us still further reason upon the testimony of advertisements. What is to be understood by the following, of the Memphis Eagle and Inquirer, Saturday, Nov. 13, 1852? Under the editorial motto, "Liberty and Union, now and for ever," come the following illustrations: --
I have just received from the East 75 assorted A No. 1 negroes. Call soon, if you want to get the first choice. BENJ. LITTLE
CASH FOR NEGROES
I will pay as high cash prices for a few likely young negroes as any trader in this city. Also, will receive and sell on commission at Byrd Hill's old stand, on Adams-street, Memphis. BENJ. LITTLE
FIVE HUNDRED NEGROES WANTED.
We will pay the highest cash price for all good negroes offered. We invite all those having negroes for sale to call on us at our mart, opposite the lower steam-boat landing. We will also have a large lot of Virginia negroes for sale in the fall. We have as safe a jail as any in the country, where we can keep negroes safe for those that wish them kept. BOLTON, DICKINS, & CO.
Under the head of Advertisement No. 1, let us humbly inquire what "assorted A No. 1 Negroes" means. Is it likely that it means negroes sold in families? What is meant by the invitation "Call soon if you want to get the first choice?"
So much for Advertisement No. 1. Let us now propound a few questions to the initiated on No. 2. What does Mr. Benjamin Little mean by saying that he "will pay as high a cash price for a few likely young negroes as any trader in the city?" Do families commonly consist exclusively of "likely young negroes?"
On the third advertisement we are also desirous of some information. Messrs. BOLTON< DICKINS< & CO. state that they expect to receive a large lot of Virginia negroes in the fall.
Unfortunate Messrs. Bolton, Dickins, & Co. ! Do you suppose that Virginia families will sell their negroes? Have you read Mr. J. Thornton Randolph's last novel, and have you not learned that old Virginia families never sell to traders? and, more than that, that they always club together and buy up the negroes that are for sale in their neighbourhood, and the traders when they appear on the ground are hustled off with very little ceremony? On would really think that you had got your impressions on the subject from "Uncle Tom's Cabin." For we are told that all who derive their views of slavery from this book "regard the families of slaves as utterly unsettled and vagrant."*
But before we recover from our astonishment on reading this, we take up the Natches (Mississippi) Courier of Nov. 20th, 1852, and there read:
NEGROES The undersigned would respectfully state to the public that he has leased the stand in the Forks of the Road, near Natchez, for a term of years, and that he intends to keep a large lot of NEGROES on hand during the year. He will sell as low or lower than any other trader at this place or in New Orleans.
He has just arrived from Virginia with a very likely lot of Field Men and Women; also, House Servants, three Cooks, and a Carpenter. Call and see.
A find Buggy Horse, a Saddle Horse, and a Carryall, on hand, and for sale.
Natchez, Sept. 28, 1852 THOMAS G. JAMES.
Where in the world did this lucky Mr. THOS. G. JAMES get this likely Virginia "assortment?" Probably in some county which Mr. Thornton Randolph never visited. And had no families been separated to form the assortment? We hear of a lot of field men and women. Where are their children? We hear a lot of house-servants - of "three cooks," and "one carpenter," as well as a "fine buggy horse." Had these unfortunate cooks and carpenters no relations? Did no sad natural tears stream down their dark cheeks when they were being "assorted" for the Natchez market? Does no mournful heart among them yearn to the song of
Oh, carry me back to old Virginny ?
Still further, we see in the same paper the following:
SLAVES ! SLAVES ! SLAVES !
FRESH ARRIVALS WEEKLY. - Having established ourselves at the Forks of the Road, near Natchez, for a term of years, we have now on hand, and intend to keep throughout the entire year, a large and well-selected stock of Negroes, consisting of field-hands, house-servants, mechanics, cooks, seamstresses, washers, ironers, &c., which we can and will sell as low or lower than any other house here or in New Orleans.
Persons wishing to purchase would do well to call on us before making purchases elsewhere, as our regular arrivals will keep us supplied with a good and general assortment. Our terms are liberal. Give us a call.
GRIFFIN & PULLAM
Natchez, Oct. 15, 1852. -- 6m. "Free Trader and Concordia Intelligencer" copy as above.
Indeed ! Messrs. Griffin and Pullam, it seems are equally fortunate ! They are having fresh supplies weekly, and are going to keep a large, well-selected stock constantly on hand, to wit, "field-hands, house-servants, mechanics, cooks, seamstresses, washer, ironers, etc."
Let us respectfully inquire what is the process by which a trader acquires a well-selected stock. He goes to Virginia to select. He has had orders, say, for one dozen cooks, for half a dozen carpenters, for so many house-servants, &c. &c. Each one of these individuals have their own ties; besides being cooks, carpenters, and house-servants, they are also fathers, mothers, husbands, wives; but what of that? They must be selected -- it is an assortment that is wanted. The gentleman who has ordered a cook does not, of course, want her five children; and the planter who has ordered a carpenter does not want the cook, his wife. A carpenter is an expensive article, at any rate, as they cost from a thousand to fifteen hundred dollars; and a man who has to pay out this sum him cannot always afford himself the luxury of indulging his humanity; and as to the children, they must be left in the slave-raising State. For when the ready-raised article is imported weekly into Natchez or New Orleans, is it likely that the inhabitants will encumber themselves with the labour of raising children ? No; there must be division of labour in all well ordered business. The Northern slave States raise the article, and the Southern ones consume it.
The extracts have been taken from the papers of the more Southern States. If, now, the reader has any curiosity to explore the selecting process in the Northern States, the dail prints will further enlighten him. In the Daily Virginian of November 19th, 1852, Mr. J.B. McLendon thus announces to the Old Dominion that he has settled himself down to attend to the selecting process:
NEGROES WANTED.The subscriber, having located in Lynchburg, is giving the highest cash prices for negroes between the ages of 10 and 30 years. Those having negroes for sale may find it to their interest to call on him at the Washington Hote, Lynchburg, or address him by letter.
All communications will receive prompt attention.
Nov. 5. --dly. J.B. McLENDON.
Mr. McLendon distinctly announces that he is not going to take any children under ten years of age, nor any grown people over thirty. Likely young negroes are what he is after: -- families, of course, never separated! ...
... Here is recorded, in only eleven papers, the sale of eight hundred and forty-nine slaves in two weeks in Virginia; the State where Mr. J. Thornton Randolph describes such an even as a separation of families being a thing that "we read of in novels sometimes."
States where Published. Number
Number of Runaways described. Virginia . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 849 7 15 Kentucky . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 238 1 7 Tennesee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 385 4 17 S. Carolina . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 852 2 7 Georgia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 98 2 . . . Alabama . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . 10 549 5 5 Mississippi . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 669 5 6 Lousiana . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 460 4 35
64 4,100 30 92
In South Carolina, where the writer in Fraser's Magazine dates from, we have during these same two weeks a sale of eight hundred and fifty-two recorded by one dozen papers. Verily, we must apply to the newspapers of his State the same language which he applies to "Uncle Tom's Cabin:" "Were our views of the system of slavery to be derived from these papers, we should regard the families of slaves as utterly unsettled and vagrant."
The total, in sixty-four papers, in different States, for only two weeks, is four thousand one hundred, besides ninety-two lots, as they are called.
And, now, who is he who compares the hopeless, returnless separation of the negro from his family, to the voluntary separation of the freeman, whom necessary business interest takes for a while from the bosom of his family? Is not the lot of the slave bitter enough without this last of mockeries and worst of insults? Well may they say in their anguish, "Our sould is exceedingly filled with the scorning of them that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud!"
From the poor negro, exposed to bitterest separation, the law jealously takes away the power of writing. For him the gulf of separation yawns black and hopeless, with no redeeming signal. Ignorant of geography, he knows not whither he is going, or where he is, or how to direct a letter. To all intents and purposes it is a separation hopeless as that of death, and as final.