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cal proceedings grew out of the transaction. Some thought it a hard case, but the sufferers were only negroes and slaves.
It is the common understanding at the South, that slaves do not constitute families. It is the common understanding of the country at large. The American Bible Society, many years ago, proposed to supply each family in the United States with a Bible. After a long effort, it was announced by the Society that the great work was completed. It was afterwards ascertained that no part of the supply went to the then two and a half millions of slaves. The Society made no apology for its mistake, nor acknowledged that it had committed any. Public sentiment in general (with exception of abolitionists) attributed to them no error. The nation knew nothing about families of slaves!
The practice corresponds with the theory. The statement that follows is from Sarah M. Grimke, daughter of the late Judge Grimke, of Charleston, S. C.:
"A slave who had been separated from his wife, because it best suited the convenience of his owner, ran away. He was taken up on the plantation where his wife, to whom he was tenderly attached, then lived. His only object in running away was to return to her; no other fault was attributed to him. For this offense he was confined in the stocks six weeks, in a miserable hovel, not weather-tight. He received fifty lashes weekly during that time, was allowed food barely sufficient to sustain him, and when released from confinement, was not permitted to return to his wife. His master, although himself a husband and a father, was unmoved by the touching appeals of the slave, who entreated that he might only remain with his wife, promised to discharge his duties faithfully; his master continued inexorable, and he was torn from his wife and family. The owner of this slave was a professing Christian, in full membership with the church, and this circumstance occurred while he was in his chamber, during his last illness." (Weld's "Slavery as it is," p. 23.)
The following is from Mrs. Angelina Grimke Weld, sister of the preceding witness:
"Chambermaids and seamstresses often sleep in their mistresses' apartments, but with no bedding at all. I know of an instance of a woman who has been married eleven years, and yet has never been allowed to sleep out of her mistress's chamber. This is a great hardship to slaves. When we consider that house slaves are rarely allowed social intercourse during the day, as their work generally separates them, the barbarity of such an arrangement is obvious. It is peculiarly a hardship in the above case, as the husband of the woman does not 'belong' to her 'owner,' and because he is subject to dreadful attacks of illness, and he can have but little attention from his wife in the day. And yet her mistress, who is an old lady, gives her the highest character as a faithful servant, and told a friend of mine that she was entirely dependent on her for all her comforts;
slie dressed and undressed her, gave her all her food, and was so necessary to her that she could not do without her. I may add that this couple are tenderly attached to each other."
"I know an instance in which the husband was a slave, and the wife was free. During the illness of the former, the latter was allowed to come and nurse him; she was obliged to leave the work by which she made a living, and come to stay with her husband, and thus lose weeks of her time, or he would have suffered for want of proper attention; and yet this 'owner' made her no compensation for her services. He had long been a faithful and a favorite slave, and his owner was a woman very benevolent to the poor whites." "She, no doubt, only thought how kind she was to allow her to come and stay so long in her yard." (lb., p. 56.)
"Persons who own plantations and yet live in the cities often take their children from them as soon as they are weaned, and send them into the country; because they do not want the time of the mother taken up with attendance upon her oivn children, it being too valuable to the mistress. As a favor she is sometimes permitted to go to see them once a year. So, on the other hand, if the field slaves happen to have children of an age suitable to the convenience of the master, they are taken from their parents and brought to the city. Parents are almost never consulted as to the disposition to be made of their children, and they have as little control over them as have domestic animal* over the disposal of their young. Every natural and social feeling and affection are violated with indifference. Slaves are treated as though they did not possess them." (lb., pp. 56-7.)
If such be the condition of domestic or house servants, in the best and most refined families of the South, what must be the condition of field slaves, under the direction of overseers, on the plantations?
"Among the gangs there are often young women, who bring their children to the fields, and lay them in a fence corner while they are at work, only being permitted to nurse them at the option of the overseer. When a child is three weeks old, a woman is considered in working order. I have seen a woman, with her young child strapped to her back, laboring the whole day beside a man, perhaps the father of the child, and he not permitted to give her any assistance, himself being under the whip." (Testimony of L. Sapington, a native of Maryland. lb., p. 49.)
On page 157 of the same book may be found the particulars of the public execution of a negro in a barbarous manner, by burning and beheading, after which his head was stuck up on a pole. His crime was the killing of a white man. The provocation was, that the white man "owned his wife, and was in the habit of sleeping with her. The negro said he killed him, and he believed he should be rewarded in heaven for it."
The bearing of "the legal relation" of slave ownership upon the "family" relation may be seen by such advertisements as the following, which abound in the Southern papers. They are selected from about thirty similar ones in Weld's "Slavery as it is," pp. 164-166:
From the Richmond Enquirer, Feb. 20, 1838.
"$50 Reward.—Ran away from the subscriber, his negro man Pauladore, commonly called Paul. I understand Gen. R. Y. Hayne* has purchased his wife and children from H. L. Pinckney, Esq.,f and has them now on his plantation at Goose-creek, where, no doubt, the fellow is frequently lurking.
"$25 Reward.—Ran away from the subscriber, a negro woman named Matilda. It is thought she may be somewhere up James River, as she was claimed as a wife by some boatman in Goochland.
"J. Alvis." "$10 Reward for a negro woman named Sally, 40 years old. We have reason to believe said negro to be lurking on the James River Canal, or the Green Spring neighborhood, where, we are informed, her husband resides. Polly C. Shields.
"Mount Elba, Feb. 19, 1838."
From the Savannah Georgian, July 8, 1837."Ran away from the subscriber, his man Joe. He visits the city occasionally, where he has been harbored by his mother and sister. I will give one hundred dollars for proof sufficient to convict his harborers.
"R. P. T. Mongin."
* Ex-Governor of South Carolina, and U. S. Senator. \ Member of Congress from South Carolina.