I Was Born a Slave: An Anthology of Classic Slave Narratives - Vol. 2

By Yuval Taylor | Go to book overview

CHAP. II.

ALL the slaves, both men and women, except those about the house, were forced to work in the field. “We raised corn, wheat and tobacco.

The provision for each slave, per week, was a peck of corn, two dozens of herrings, and about four pounds of meat. The children, under eight years of age, were not allowed anything. The women were allowed four weeks of leisure at child birth; after which, they were compelled to leave their infants to provide for themselves, and to the mercy of Providence, while they were again forced to labor in the field, sometimes a mile from the house.

Often the older children had to take care of the younger. Sometimes the mother, until her babe was about three or four months old, if she had a kind and humane overseer, could come to the house once between meals, and nurse her child; but such favors were but seldom granted. More frequently the mother must take her child with her to the field, place it at the side where she could see it as she came to the end of the row; moving it along as she moved from row to row.

The slaves were called out from their quarters at daylight. The breakfast must be prepared and eaten before going to work, and if not done before the overseer called them to the field, they must go without it; and often the children, being asleep at this time, were of course obliged to go without their breakfast.

The slaves’ clothing was, in winter, one shirt, pants and jacket, without lining, shoes and stockings. In summer, one shirt and one pair of pants of coarse linen.

When the tobacco is ripe, or nearly so, there are frequently worms in it, about two inches long, and as large as one’s thumb. They have horns, and are called tobacco worms. They are very destructive to the tobacco crops, and must be carefully picked off by the hands, so as not to break the leaves, which are very easily broken. But careful as the slaves may be, they cannot well avoid leaving some of these worms on the plants. It was a custom of Mr. Wagar to follow after the slaves, to see if he could find any left, and if so, to compel the person in whose row they were found, to eat them. This was done to render them more careful. It may seem incredible to my readers, but it is a fact.

My mistress and her family were all Episcopalians. The nearest church was five miles from our plantation, and there was no Methodist church nearer than ten miles. So we went to the Episcopal church, but always came home as we went, for the preaching was above our comprehension, so that we could understand but little that was said. But soon the Methodist religion was brought among us, and preached in a manner so plain that the way-faring man, though a fool, could not err therein.

This new doctrine produced great consternation among the slaveholders. It was something which they could not understand. It brought glad tidings to the poor bondman; it bound up the broken-hearted; it opened the prison doors to them that were bound, and let the captive go free.

As soon as it got among the slaves, it spread from plantation to plantation, until it reached ours, where there were but few who did not experience religion. The slaveholders, becoming much alarmed at this strange phenomenon, called a meeting, at which they appointed men to patrol the country, and break up these religious assemblies. This was done, and many a poor victim had his back severely cut, for simply going to a prayer meeting.

At length, Mr. Wagar bought at auction a man named Martin, who was a fiddler. As slaves are very fond of dancing, our master thought that fiddling would bring them back to their former ignorant condition, and bought this man for that purpose. It had the desired effect upon most of them, and what the whip failed to accomplish, the fiddle completed, for it is no easy matter to drive a soul from God by cruelty, when it may easily be drawn away by worldly pleasures; and fiddling I think is better appropriated to this purpose, than anything else I could mention.

-419-

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I Was Born a Slave: An Anthology of Classic Slave Narratives - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Introduction xvii
  • Henry Bibb 1
  • Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb 4
  • Introduction 5
  • Author’s Preface 12
  • Chapter I 13
  • Chapter II 16
  • Chapter III 21
  • Chapter IV 27
  • Chapter V 32
  • Chapter VI 39
  • Chapter VII 44
  • Chapter VIII 49
  • Chapter IX 52
  • Chapter X 58
  • Chapter XI 61
  • Chapter XII 66
  • Chapter XIII 72
  • Chapter XIV 75
  • Chapter XV 78
  • Chapter XVI 81
  • Chapter XVII 85
  • Chapter XVIII 91
  • Chapter XIX 94
  • Chapter XX 96
  • Index 99
  • James W. C. Pennington 103
  • The Fugitive Blacksmith; or, Events in the History 107
  • Preface 108
  • Contents 113
  • Chapter I 114
  • Chapter II - The Flight 119
  • Chapter III - A Dreary Night in the Woods — Critical Situation the Next Day 128
  • Chapter IV - The Good Woman of the Toll-Gate Directs Me to W.W. —My Reception by Him 133
  • Chapter V 137
  • Chapter VI 141
  • Chapter VII - The Feeding and Clothing of the Slaves in the Part of Maryland Where I Lived, &C 145
  • Appendix 150
  • Liberty’s Champion 155
  • Solomon Northup 159
  • Twelve- Years a Slave 163
  • Contents 166
  • Editor’s Preface 171
  • Chapter I 172
  • Chapter II 176
  • Chapter III 181
  • Chapter IV 188
  • Chapter V 193
  • Chapter VI 198
  • Chapter VII 204
  • Chapter VIII 211
  • Chapter IX 217
  • Chapter X 222
  • Chapter XI 229
  • Chapter XII 235
  • Chapter XIII 241
  • Chapter XIV 248
  • Chapter XV 255
  • Chapter XVI 261
  • Chapter XVII 267
  • Chapter XVIII 273
  • Chapter XIX 279
  • Chapter XX 286
  • Chapter XXI 291
  • Chapter XXII 301
  • Roaring River 308
  • Appendix 309
  • John Brown 319
  • Slave Life in Georgia- A Narrative of the Life, Sufferings, and Escape of John Brown, Now in England 322
  • Preface 323
  • Chapter I - My Childhood and First Troubles 324
  • Chapter II - My New Master- And How He Came to Sell Me 327
  • Chapter III - I Am Sold Again. How I Fared 329
  • Chapter IV - The Story of John Glasgow 334
  • Chapter V - Dr. Hamilton’s Experiments upon Me. My Master Dies, and I Again Change Hands 339
  • Chapter VI - John Morgan 341
  • Chapter VII - Something about Some of My Fellow-Slaves 344
  • Chapter VIII - I Make an Attempt to Escape. How It Ended 347
  • Chapter IX - More Tribulation 351
  • Chapter X - I Make Another Attempt to Escape 354
  • Chapter XI - Fortune and Misfortune 357
  • Chapter XII - The Slave-Pen in New Orleans 361
  • Chapter XIII - I Am Once More Sold 364
  • Chapter XIV - How I Got Away from Jepsey James’ 367
  • Chapter XV - How I Came to Be John Brown 370
  • Chapter XVI - I Am Advertised as a Run-Away 374
  • Chapter XVII - I Am Booked to Canada, Express, by the Underground Railroad 377
  • Chapter XVIII - The Cultivation of Cotton, Tobacco, and Rice 382
  • Chapter XIX - A Few Words on the Treatment of Slaves 388
  • Chapter XX - My Reflections 392
  • Chapter XXI - The Underground Railroad 395
  • Declaration 401
  • John Brown’s Testimonials 405
  • John Thompson 413
  • The Life of John Thompson, a Fugitive Slave; Containing His History of 25 Years in Bondage, and His Providential Escape 415
  • Preface 416
  • Chap. I 417
  • Chap. II 419
  • Chap. III 420
  • Chap. IV 423
  • Chap. V 425
  • Chap. VI 427
  • Chap. VII 429
  • Chap. VIII 433
  • Chap. IX 435
  • Chap. X 439
  • Chap. XI 443
  • Chap. XII 446
  • Chap. XIII 450
  • Chap. XIV 454
  • Chap. XV 458
  • Chap. XVI - Voyage to the Indian Ocean 462
  • Chap. XVII 466
  • Chap. XVIII 471
  • Chap. XIX 474
  • William and Ellen Craft 481
  • Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom 484
  • Preface 486
  • Part I 487
  • Part II 517
  • Harriet Jacobs (Linda Brent) 533
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl 539
  • Preface by the Author 540
  • Introduction by the Editor 541
  • Contents 542
  • I - Childhood 544
  • II - The New Master and Mistress 546
  • III - The Slaves’ New Year’s Day 550
  • IV - The Slave Who Dared to Feel like a Man 552
  • V - The Trials of Girlhood 559
  • VI - The Jealous Mistress 561
  • VII - The Lover 565
  • VIII - What Slaves Are Taught to Think of the North 570
  • IX - Sketches of Neighboring Slaveholders.49 571
  • X - A Perilous Passage in the Slave Girl’s Life 577
  • XI - The New Tie to Life 580
  • XII - Fear of Insurrection.56 583
  • XIII - The Church and Slavery 587
  • XIV - Another Link to Life 592
  • XV - Continued Persecutions 595
  • XVI - Scenes at the Plantation 599
  • XVII - The Flight 605
  • XVIII - Months of Peril 607
  • XIX - The Children Sold 612
  • XX - New Perils 615
  • XXI - The Loophole of Retreat." 618
  • XXII - Christmas Festivities 620
  • XXIII - Still in Prison 622
  • XXIV - The Candidate for Congress 624
  • XXV - Competition in Cunning 626
  • XXVI - Important Era in My Brother’s Life 630
  • XXVII - New Destination for the Children 632
  • XXVIII - Aunt Nancy 637
  • XXIX - Preparations for Escape 640
  • XXX - Northward Bound 646
  • XXXI - Incidents in Philadelphia 648
  • XXXII - The Meeting of Mother and Daughter 651
  • XXXIII - A Home Found 653
  • XXXIV - The Old Enemy Again 655
  • XXXV - Prejudice against Color 658
  • XXXVI - The Hairbreadth Escape 659
  • XXXVII - A Visit to England 663
  • XXXVIII - Renewed Invitations to Go South 664
  • XXXIX - The Confession 666
  • XL - The Fugitive Slave Law 667
  • Xli - Free at Last 671
  • Appendix 676
  • Jacob D. Green 683
  • Narrative of the Life of J. D. Green, a Runaway Slave, from Kentucky, Containing an Account of His Three Escapes, in 1839, 1846, and 1848 685
  • Testimonials 686
  • Narrative, &C 688
  • What the "Times"14 Said of the Secession in 1861 710
  • Secession Condemned in a Southern Convention. Speech 712
  • The Confederate and the Scottish Clergy on Slavery 715
  • Slavery and Liberty.18 718
  • James Mars 721
  • Life of James Mars, a Slave Born and Sold in Connecticut 723
  • Introduction 725
  • A Slave Born and Sold in Connecticut 726
  • William Parker 741
  • Part I 745
  • Early Plantation Life 746
  • Part II 764
  • Bibliography 789
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