American Slavery as It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses

By Theodore Dwight Weld | Go to book overview

TESTIMONY OF PHILEMON BLISS, ESQ.

Mr. Bliss is a highly respectable member of the bar, in Elyria, Lorain Co. Ohio, and member of the Presbyterian church, in that place. He resided in Florida, during the years 1834 and 5.

The following extracts are from letters, written by Mr. B. in 1835, while residing on a plantation near Tallahassee, and published soon after in the Ohio Atlas; also from letters written in 1836, and published in the New York Evangelist.

“In speaking of slavery as it is, I hardly know where to begin. The physical condition of the slave is far from being accurately known at the north. Gentlemen traveling in the south can know nothing of it. They must make the south their residence; they must live on plantations, before they can have any opportunity of judging of the [Page 103] slave. I resided in Augustine five months, and had I not made particular inquiries, which most northern visitors very seldom or never do, I should have left there with the impression that the slaves were generally very well treated, and were a happy people. Such is the report of many northern travelers who have no more opportunity of knowing their real condition than if they had remained at home. What confidence could we place in the reports of the traveler, relative to the condition of the Irish peasantry, who formed his opinion from the appearance of the waiters at a Dublin hotel, or the household servants of a country gentleman? And it is not often on plantations even, that strangers can witness the punishment of the slave. I was conversing the other day with a neighboring planter, upon the brutal treatment of the slaves which I had witnessed: he remarked, that had I been with him I should not have seen this. “When I whip niggers, I take them out of sight and hearing.” Such being the difficulties in the way of a stranger’s ascertaining the treatment of the slaves, it is not to be wondered at that gentlemen,

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