American Slavery as It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses

American Slavery as It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses

American Slavery as It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses

American Slavery as It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses

Synopsis

Compiled by a prominent abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld, American Slavery As It Is combines information taken from witnesses, and from active and former slave owners, to generate a condemnation of slavery from both those who observed it and those who perpetuated it. The narrative describes the appalling day-to-day conditions of the over 2,700,000 men, women and children in slavery in the United States. Weld demonstrates how even prisoners--in the United States and in other countries--were significantly better fed than American slaves. Readers will find one of the most meticulous records of slave life available in this text. Unlike personal slave narratives, which focus on a single man or woman's experience, American Slavery details the overall conditions of slaves across multiple states and several years.

A DOCSOUTH BOOK. This collaboration between UNC Press and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library brings selected classic works from the digital library of Documenting the American South back into print. DocSouth Books uses the latest digital technologies to make these works available as downloadable e-books or print-on-demand publications. DocSouth Books are unaltered from the original publication, providing affordable and easily accessible editions to a new generation of scholars, students, and general readers.

Excerpt

Reader, you are empannelled as a juror to try a plain case and bring in an honest verdict. the question at issue is not one of law, but of fact—”What is the actual condition of the slaves in the United States?” a plainer case never went to a jury. Look at it. twenty-seven hundred thousand persons in this country, men, women, and children, are in slavery. Is slavery, as a condition for human beings, good, bad, or indifferent? We submit the question without argument. You have common sense, and conscience, and a human heart;—pronounce upon it. You have a wife, or a husband, a child, a father, a mother, a brother or a sister—make the case your own, make it theirs, and bring in your verdict. the case of Human Rights against Slavery has been adjudicated in the court of conscience times innumerable. the same verdict has always been rendered—”Guilty;” the same sentence has always been pronounced, “Let it be accursed;” and human nature, with her million echoes, has rung it round the world in every language under heaven, “Let it be accursed. Let it be accursed.” His heart is false to human nature, who will not say “Amen.” There is not a man on earth who does not believe that slavery is a curse. Human beings may be inconsistent, but human nature is true to herself. She has uttered her testimony against slavery with a shriek ever since the monster was begotten; and till it perishes amidst the execrations of the universe, she will traverse the world on its track, dealing her bolts upon its head, and dashing against it her condemning brand. We repeat it, every man knows that slavery is a curse. Whoever denies this, his lips libel his heart. Try him; clank the chains in his ears, and tell him they are for him; give him an hour to prepare his wife and children for a life of slavery; bid him make haste and get ready their necks for the yoke, and their wrists for the coffle chains, then look at his pale lips and trembling knees, and you have nature’s testimony against slavery.

Two millions seven hundred thousand persons in these States are in this condition. They were made slaves and are held such by force, and by being put in fear, and this for no crime! Reader, what have you to say of such . . .

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