The Masters Daughter (Life on a Southern Plantation)

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They were forbidden to learn how to read and write. They could be searched at any time. They could not buy or sell things without a permit. They could not own livestock. They were subject to a curfew every night. Marriage among slaves had no legal standing and always required the approval of the master. Generally, slaves could marry others living at their plantation, or at neighboring ones. Solomon Northup discovered the following rules during his enslavement in Louisiana:. Either party can have as many husbands or wives as the owner will permit, and either is at liberty to discard the other at pleasure.

The law in relation to divorce, or to bigamy, and so forth, is not applicable to property, of course. If the wife does not belong on the same plantation with the husband, the latter is permitted to visit her on Saturday nights, if the distance is not too far. The painful cries and shrieks of the tortured Patsey, mingling with the loud and angry curses of Epps [the slave master whipping her] loaded the air. She was terribly lacerated — I may say, without exaggeration, literally flayed. The lash was wet with blood Neither slavery not involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Some like Nat Turner rebelled.

Slavery in the American South - Constitutional Rights Foundation

In , he led a slave revolt that left nearly 60 white persons dead in Virginia. Such insurrections were relatively rare in the South. White people outnumbered slaves in most places, possessed firearms, and could call on the power of the government to suppress rebellions. Nevertheless, slaves everywhere found other ways to resist their bondage. The most effective way that a slave could retaliate against an owner was to run away.

Plantation Life

It is estimated that 60, black people fled slavery before the Civil War. Boles, John B.


  • 11. The Cotton Revolution.
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  • 11. The Cotton Revolution.
  • Slavery in the American South - Constitutional Rights Foundation.

Black Southerners, — In this activity and based on the reading, the class will create narratives of six slaves who have run away from different southern plantations in After forming small groups, assign each group one of the following profiles. Each should work cooperatively to write a narrative of one of the following runaway slaves:.

Primary Sources

Gooch bought me for his son-in-law, Mr. Hammans, about five miles from his residence. This man had but two slaves besides myself; he treated me very kindly for a week or two, but in summer, when cotton was ready to hoe, he gave me task work connected with this department, which I could not get done, not having worked on cotton farms before. When I failed in my task, he commenced flogging me, and set me to work without any shirt in the cotton field, in a very hot sun, in the month of July.

In August, Mr. Condell, his overseer, gave me a task at pulling fodder. Having finished my task before night, I left the field; the rain came on, which soaked the fodder. On discovering this, he threatened to flog me for not getting in the fodder before the rain came. This was the first time I attempted to run away, knowing that I should get a flogging. I was then between thirteen and fourteen years of age. I ran away to the woods half naked; I was caught by a slave-holder, who put me in Lancaster jail.

When they put slaves in jail, they advertise for their masters to own them; but if the master does not claim his slave in six months from the time of imprisonment, the slave is sold for jail fees.

Spartacus Educational

When the slave runs away, the master always adopts a more rigorous system of flogging; this was the case in the present instance. After this, having determined from my youth to gain my freedom, I made several attempts, was caught and got a severe flogging of one hundred lashes each time. Hammans was a very severe and cruel master, and his wife still worse; she used to tie me up and flog me while naked. The abolition of slavery and the establishment of freedom are not the one and the same thing.

The emancipated negroes were not yet really freemen. Their chains had indeed been sundered by the sword, but the broken links still hung upon their limbs. The question, "What shall be done with the negro? Some were in favour of an immediate recognition of their equal and political rights, and of conceding to them at once all the prerogatives of citizenship. But only a few advocated a policy so radical, and, at the same time, generally considered revolutionary, while many, even of those who really wished well to the negro, doubted his capacity for citizenship, his willingness to labour for his own support, and the possibility of his forming, as a freeman, an integral part of the Republic.

The idea of admitting the freedmen to an equal participation in civil and political rights was not entertained in any part of the South. In most of the States they were not allowed to sit on juries, or even to testify in any case in which white men were parties. They were forbidden to own or bear firearms, and thus were rendered defenceless against assault. Vagrant laws were passed, often relating only to the negro, or, where applicable in terms of both white and black, seldom or never enforced except against the latter. In some States any court - that is, any local Justice of the Peace - could bind out to a white person any negro under age, without his own consent or that of his parents?

The freedmen were subjected to the punishments formerly inflicted upon slaves. Whipping especially, when in some States disfranchised the party subjected to it, and rendered him for ever infamous before the law, was made the penalty for the most trifling misdemeanor. These legal disabilities were not the only obstacles placed in the path of the freed people. Their attempts at education provoked the most intense and bitter hostility, as evincing a desire to render themselves equal to the whites. Their churches and schoolhouses were in many places destroyed by mobs.

In parts of the country remote from observation, the violence and cruelty engendered by slavery found free scope for exercise upon the defenceless negro. In a single district, in a single month, forty-nine cases of violence, ranging from assault and battery to murder, in which whites were the aggressors and blacks the sufferers, were reported.

General Howard issued his first order defining the general policy of the Bureau on the 19th day of May , at once appointed his Assistant Commissioners, and entered upon the work assigned to him. Defining the Slave House. According to other information passed down in the family, the slaves were housed in two-room cabins with a dirt floor, a chimney to each house, and were allowed a garden. The above picture illustrates a slave quarter. However, the slave garden usually had some type of wooden fence, similar to what the slave ancestors had in their homes in Africa, to keep out feral pigs and other animals.

The slave master tried to establish a set of rules about everything, but he found them difficult to enforce. Sometimes the slave might simply wait until the slave master had gone to bed before they would start their activities.

Children of the plantation

In the slave quarters, the slaves courted and married, bore babies and raised children, all the actions that imparted meaning to their lives. How Edward J. Thomas Recalls Sunday Church Services. No work was permitted on Sundays and the slaves usually attended church services.


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  8. According to Edward J. Thomas, on Sundays there was no strange sight to see many ponies and wagons on route to church. Wherever the white folks attended church, the slaves were also welcome, and on communion Sunday, they all, master and slave, took wine from the same silver cup — the white folks, of course, first. The slaves had their own meeting and prayer-house on the plantation built by the master. Thomas, the older slaves were allowed to keep guns in the slave quarters, which were supplied by the slave master. Many of the slaves had horses and cows that were permitted to run in a large free pasture.

    These pastures extended over thousands of acres of salt marsh. In the slave quarters, the slaves could raise as many chickens as they pleased. They could also have boats and go anywhere fishing, as long as they came back home by daylight to resume work. The Harvesting of the Cotton. The cotton would not open until October and the fields would still be white until after Christmas.

    The slave master usually had a cotton-picking contest every week to see who could pick the most cotton and get the prize. The prize was usually a calico dress or a hat or a pair of Sunday shoes.

    Outside of the cotton-picking contest, each slave was required to pick a certain amount of cotton each day, and if this amount was not met, the slave would likely receive some type of discipline. Distribution of Yearly Clothing Allowance Further information passed down through the family is that the slaves were given two suits of clothes per year, one of wool, and the other of cotton, two shirts, a pair of blankets and a pair of heavy shoes.

    The clothes were given to them twice a year, in the early spring and in winter. The shoes were also given to them in the winter. During the summer the slaves usually went barefoot. The owner provided the children, boys and girls alike, with a one-piece garment, called a shirttail, in the case of boys, and a shift in the case of girls. Also, the children that did not have an assigned job went barefoot all year long. The children usually became capable for field work about the ages of At that time they received the same clothing as the adults.

    Slave families continuously gathered old worn out clothes and blankets, and they cut into geometric pieces, where the mother would sew the bits of material together and made a very respectable quilt. This added to the comfort of the slaves. These sticks were then bundled and sent to the merchant furnishing the shoes. The shoes would come back to the plantation with the sticks inside of them.

    The slave master would then take up the shoes, pull out the stick, and call the name of the slave who would receive the shoes.