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morning and evening, from cold, rain, &c.; whereas, the great body of
the slaves are exposed to all of these, in their season, from daylight
till dark; besides this, they labor more hours in the day than
convicts, as will be shown under another head, and are obliged to
prepare and cook their own food after they have finished the labor of
the day, while the convicts have theirs prepared for them. These, with
other circumstances, necessarily make larger and longer draughts upon
the strength of the slave, produce consequently greater exhaustion,
and demand a larger amount of food to restore and sustain the laborer
than is required by the convict in his briefer, less exposed, and less
exhausting toils.

That the slaveholders themselves regard the usual allowance of food to
slaves as insufficient, both in kind and quantity, for hard-working
men, is shown by the fact, that in all the slave states, we believe
without exception, _white_ convicts at hard labor, have a much
_larger_ allowance of food than the usual one of slaves; and generally
more than _one third_ of this daily allowance is meat. This conviction
of slaveholders shows itself in various forms. When persons wish to
hire slaves to labor on public works, in addition to the inducement of
high wages held out to masters to hire out their slaves, the
contractors pledge themselves that a certain amount of food shall be
given the slaves, taking care to specify a _larger_ amount than the
usual allowance, and a part of it _meat_.

The following advertisement is an illustration. We copy it from the
"Daily Georgian," Savannah, Dec. 14, 1838.


The Contractors upon the Brunswick and Alatamaha Canal are desirous to
hire a number of prime Negro Men, from the 1st October next, for
fifteen months, until the 1st January, 1810. They will pay at the rate
of eighteen dollars per month for each prime hand.

These negroes will be employed in the excavation of the Canal. They
will be provided with _three and a half pounds of pork or bacon, and
ten quarts of gourd seed corn per week_, lodged in comfortable
shantees and attended constantly a skilful physician. J.H. COUPER,

But we have direct testimony to this point. The late Hon. John Taylor,
of Caroline Co. Virginia, for a long time Senator in Congress, and for
many years president of the Agricultural Society of the State, says in
his "Agricultural Essays," No. 30, page 97, "BREAD ALONE OUGHT NEVER
He urges upon the planters of Virginia to give their slaves, in
addition to bread, "salt meat and vegetables," and adds, "we shall be
ASTONISHED to discover upon trial, that this great comfort to them is
a profit to the master."

The Managers of the American Prison Discipline Society, in their third
Report, page 58, say, "In the Penitentiaries generally, in the United
States, the animal food is equal to one pound of meat per day for each

Most of the actual suffering from hunger on the part of the slaves, is
in the sugar and cotton-growing region, where the crops are exported
and the corn generally purchased from the upper country. Where this is
the case there cannot but be suffering. The contingencies of bad
crops, difficult transportation, high prices, &c. &c., naturally
occasion short and often precarious allowances. The following extract
from a New Orleans paper of April 26, 1837, affords an illustration.
The writer in describing the effects of the money pressure in
Mississippi, says:

"They, (the planters,) are now left without provisions and the means
of living and using their industry, for the present year. In this
dilemma, planters whose crops have been from 100 to 700 bales, find
themselves forced to sacrifice many of their slaves in order to get
the common necessaries of life for the support of themselves and the
rest of their negroes. In many places, heavy planters compel their
slaves to fish for the means of subsistence, rather than sell them at
such ruinous rates. There are at this moment THOUSANDS OF SLAVES in
master must be ruined to save the wretches from being STARVED."



This is abundantly proved by the number of hours that the slaves are
obliged to be in the field. But before furnishing testimony as to
their hours of labor and rest, we will present the express
declarations of slaveholders and others, that the slaves are severely
driven in the field.

The Senate and House of Representatives of the State of South

"Many owners of slaves, and others who have the management of slaves,
_do confine them so closely at hard labor that they have not
sufficient time for natural rest_. - See 2 Brevard's Digest of the Laws
of South Carolina, 243."

History of Carolina. - Vol. I, page 190.

"So _laborious_ is the task of raising, beating, and cleaning rice,
that had it been possible to obtain European servants in sufficient
numbers, _thousands and tens of thousands_ MUST HAVE PERISHED."

Hon. Alexander Smyth, a slaveholder, and member of Congress from
Virginia, in his speech on the "Missouri question," Jan. 28, 1820.

"Is it not obvious that the way to render their situation _more
comfortable_, is to allow them to be taken where there is not the same
motive to force the slave to INCESSANT TOIL that there is in the
country where cotton, sugar, and tobacco are raised for exportation.
It is proposed to hem in the blacks _where they are_ HARD WORKED,
that they may be rendered unproductive and the race be prevented from
increasing. * * * The proposed measure would be EXTREME CRUELTY to the
blacks. * * * You would * * * doom them to HARD LABOR."

"Travels in Louisiana," translated from the French by John Davies,
Esq. - Page 81.

"At the rolling of sugars, an interval of from two to three months,
they _work both night and day_. Abridged of their sleep, they _scarce
retire to rest during the whole period_."

The Western Review, No. 2, - article "Agriculture of Louisiana."

"The work is admitted to be severe for the hands, (slaves,) requiring
when the process is commenced to be _pushed night and day_."

W.C. Gildersleeve, Esq., a native of Georgia, elder of the
Presbyterian church, Wilkesbarre, Penn.

"_Overworked_ I know they (the slaves) are."

Mr. Asa A. Stone, a theological student, near Natchez, Miss., in 1834
and 1835.

"Every body here knows _overdriving_ to be one of the most common
occurrences, the planters do not deny it, except, perhaps, to

Philemon Bliss, Esq., a lawyer of Elyria, Ohio, who lived in Florida
in 1834 and 1835.

"During the cotton-picking season they usually labor in the field
during the whole of the daylight, and then spend a good part of the
night in ginning and baling. The labor required is very frequently
excessive, and speedily impairs the constitution."

Hon. R.J. Turnbull of South Carolina, a slaveholder, speaking of the
harvesting of cotton, says:

"_All the pregnant women_ even, on the plantation, and weak and
_sickly_ negroes incapable of other labour, are then _in


Asa A. Stone, theological student, a classical teacher near Natchez,
Miss., 1835.

"It is a general rule on all regular plantations, that the slaves be
in the field as _soon as it is light enough for them to see to work_,
and remain there until it is _so dark that they cannot see_."

Mr. Cornelius Johnson, of Farmington, Ohio, who lived in Mississippi
a part of 1837 and 1838.

"It is the common rule for the slaves to be kept at work _fifteen
hours in the day_, and in the time of picking cotton a certain number
of pounds is required of each. If this amount is not brought in at
night, the slave is whipped, and the number of pounds lacking is added
to the next day's job; this course is often repeated from day to day."

W.C. Gildersleeve, Esq., Wilkesbarre, Penn, a native of Georgia. "It
was customary for the overseers to call out the gangs _long before
day_, say three o'clock, in the winter, while dressing out the crops;
such work as could be done by fire light (pitch pine was abundant,)
was provided."

Mr. William Leftwich, a native of Virginia and son of a
slaveholder - he has recently removed to Delhi, Hamilton County, Ohio.

"_From dawn till dark_, the slaves are required to bend to their

Mr. Nehemiah Caulkins, Waterford, Conn., a resident in North Carolina
eleven winters.

"The slaves are obliged to work _from daylight till dark_, as long as
they can see."

Mr. Eleazar Powel, Chippewa, Beaver county, Penn., who lived in
Mississippi in 1836 and 1837.

"The slaves had to cook and eat their breakfast and be in the field by
_daylight, and continue there till dark_."

Philemon Bliss, Esq., a lawyer in Elyria, Ohio, who resided in Florida
in 1834 and 1835.

"The slaves commence labor _by daylight_ in the morning, and do not
leave the field _till dark_ in the evening."

"Travels in Louisiana," page 87.

"Both in summer and winter the slave must _be in the field by the
first dawning of day_."

Mr. Henry E. Knapp, member of a Christian church in Farmington, Ohio,
who lived in Mississippi in 1837 and 1838.

"The slaves were made to work, from _as soon as they could see_ in the
morning, till as late as they could see at night. Sometimes they were
made to work till nine o'clock at night, in such work as they could
do, as burning cotton stalks, &c."

A New Orleans paper, dated March 23, 1826, says: "To judge from the
activity reigning in the cotton presses of the suburbs of St. Mary,
and the _late hours_ during which their slaves work, the cotton trade
was never more brisk."

Mr. GEORGE W. WESTGATE, a member of the Congregational Church at
Quincy, Illinois, who lived in the south western slaves states a
number of years says, "the slaves are driven to the field in the
morning _about four o'clock_, the general calculation is to get them
at work by daylight; the time for breakfast is between nine and ten
o'clock, this meal is sometimes eaten '_bite and work_,' others allow
fifteen minutes, and this is the only rest the slave has while in the
field. I have never known a case of stopping for an hour, in
Louisiana; in Mississippi the rule is milder, though entirely subject
to the will of the master. On cotton plantations, in cotton picking
time, that is from October to Christmas, each hand has a certain
quantity to pick, and is flogged if his task is not accomplished;
their tasks are such as to keep them all the while busy."

The preceding testimony under this head has sole reference to the
actual labor of the slaves _in the field_. In order to determine how
many hours are left for sleep, we must take into the account, the time
spent in going to and from the field, which is often at a distance of
one, two and sometimes three miles; also the time necessary for
pounding, or grinding their corn, and preparing, overnight, their food
for the next day; also the preparation of tools, getting fuel and
preparing it, making fires and cooking their suppers, if they have
any, the occasional mending and washing of their clothes, &c. Besides
this, as everyone knows who has lived on a southern plantation, many
little errands and _chores_ are to be done for their masters and
mistresses, old and young, which have accumulated during the day and
been kept in reserve till the slaves return from the field at night.
To this we may add that the slaves are _social_ beings, and that
during the day, silence is generally enforced by the whip of the
overseer or driver.[3] When they return at night, their pent up social
feelings will seek vent, it is a law of nature, and though the body
may be greatly worn with toil, this law cannot be wholly stifled.
Sharers of the same woes, they are drawn together by strong
affinities, and seek the society and sympathy of their fellows; even
"_tired_ nature" will joyfully forego for a time needful rest, to
minister to a want of its being equally permanent and imperative as
the want of sleep, and as much more profound, as the yearnings of the
higher nature surpass the instincts of its animal appendage.

[Footnote 3: We do not mean that they are not suffered to _speak_, but,
that, as conversation would be a hindrance to labour, they are
generally permitted to indulge in it but little.]

All these things make drafts upon _time_. To show how much of the
slave's time, which is absolutely indispensable for rest and sleep, is
necessarily spent in various labors after his return from the field at
night, we subjoin a few testimonies.

Mr. CORNELIUS JOHNSON, Farmington, Ohio, who lived in Mississippi in
the years 1837 and 38, says:

"On all the plantations where I was acquainted, the slaves were kept
in the field till dark; after which, those who had to grind their own
corn, had that to attend to, get their supper, attend to other family
affairs of their own and of their master, such as bringing water,
washing, clothes, &c. &c., and be in the field as soon as it was
sufficiently light to commence work in the morning."

Mr. GEORGE W. WESTGATE, of Quincy, Illinois, who has spent several
years in the south western slave states, says:

"Their time, after full dark until four o'clock in the morning is
their own; this fact alone would seem to say they have sufficient
rest, but there are other things to be considered; much of their
making, mending and washing of clothes, preparing and cooking food,
hauling and chopping wood, fixing and preparing tools, and a variety
of little nameless jobs must be done between those hours."

PHILEMON BLISS, Esq. of Elyria, Ohio, who resided in Florida in 1834
and 5, gives the following testimony:

"After having finished their field labors, they are occupied till nine
or ten o'clock in doing _chores_, such as grinding corn, (as all the
corn in the vicinity is ground by hand,) chopping wood, taking care of
horses, mules, &c., and a thousand things necessary to be done on a
large plantation. If any extra job is to be done, it must not hinder
the 'niggers' from their work, but must be done in the night."

W.C. GILDERSLEEVE, Esq., a native of Georgia, an elder of the
Presbyterian Church at Wilkes-barre, Pa. says:

"The corn is ground in a handmill by the slave _after his task is
done_ - generally there is but one mill on the plantation, and as but
one can grind at a time, the mill is going sometimes _very late at

We now present another class of facts and testimony, showing that the
slaves engaged in raising the large staples, are _overworked_.

In September, 1831, the writer of this had an interview with JAMES G.
BIRNEY, Esq., who then resided in Kentucky, having removed with his
family from Alabama the year before. A few hours before that
interview, and on the morning of the same day, Mr. B. had spent a
couple of hours with Hon. Henry Clay, at his residence, near
Lexington. Mr. Birney remarked, that Mr. Clay had just told him, he
had lately been led to mistrust certain estimates as to the increase
of the slave population in the far south west - estimates which he had
presented, I think, in a speech before the Colonization Society. He
now believed, that the births among the slaves in that quarter were
_not equal to the deaths_ - and that, of course, the slave population,
independent of immigration from the slave-selling states, was _not
sustaining itself_.

Among other facts stated by Mr. Clay, was the following, which we copy
_verbatim_ from the original memorandum, made at the time by Mr.
Birney, with which he has kindly furnished us.

"Sept. 16, 1834. - Hon. H. Clay, in a conversation at his own house, on
the subject of slavery, informed me, that Hon. Outerbridge Horsey,
formerly a senator in Congress from the state of Delaware, and the
owner of a sugar plantation in Louisiana, declared to him, that his
overseer worked his hands so closely, that one of the women brought
forth a child whilst engaged in the labors of the field.

"Also, that a few years since, he was at a brick yard in the environs
of New Orleans, in which one hundred hands were employed; among them
were from _twenty to thirty young women_, in the prime of life. He was
told by the proprietor, that there had _not been a child born among
them for the last two or three years, although they all had

The preceding testimony of Mr. Clay, is strongly corroborated by
advertisements of slaves, by Courts of Probate, and by executors
administering upon the estates of deceased persons. Some of those
advertisements for the sale of slaves, contain the names, ages,
accustomed employment, &c., of all the slaves upon the plantation of
the deceased. These catalogues show large numbers of young men and
women, almost all of them between twenty and thirty-eight years old;
and yet the number of young children is _astonishingly small_. We have
laid aside many lists of this kind, in looking over the newspapers of
the slaveholding states; but the two following are all we can lay our
hands on at present. One is in the "Planter's Intelligencer,"
Alexandria, La., March 22, 1837, containing one hundred and thirty
slaves; and the other in the New Orleans Bee, a few days later, April
8, 1837, containing fifty-one slaves. The former is a "Probate sale"
of the slaves belonging to the estate of Mr. Charles S. Lee, deceased,
and is advertised by G.W. Keeton, Judge of the Parish of Concordia,
La. The sex, name, and age of each slave are contained in the
advertisement which fills two columns. The following are some of the

The whole number of slaves is _one hundred and thirty_. Of these,
_only three are over forty years old_. There are _thirty-five females_
between the ages of _sixteen and thirty-three_, and yet there are only
THIRTEEN children under the age of _thirteen years!_

It is impossible satisfactorily to account for such a fact, on any
other supposition, than that these thirty-five females were so
overworked, or underfed, or both, as to prevent child-bearing.

The other advertisement is that of a "Probate sale," ordered by the
Court of the Parish of Jefferson - including the slaves of Mr. William
Gormley. The whole number of slaves is fifty-one; the sex, age, and
accustomed labors of each are given. The oldest of these slaves is but
_thirty-nine years old_: of the females, _thirteen_ are between the
ages of sixteen and thirty-two, and the oldest female is but
_thirty-eight_ - and yet there are but _two children under eight years

Another proof that the slaves in the south-western states are
over-worked, is the fact, that so few of them live to old age. A large
majority of them are _old_ at middle age, and few live beyond
fifty-five. In one of the preceding advertisements, out of one hundred
and thirty slaves, only _three_ are over forty years old! In the
other, out of fifty-one slaves, only _two_ are over _thirty-five_; the
oldest is but thirty-nine, and the way in which he is designated in
the advertisement, is an additional proof, that what to others is
"middle age," is to the slaves in the south-west "old age:" he is
advertised as "_old_ Jeffrey."

But the proof that the slave population of the south-west is so
over-worked that it cannot _supply its own waste_, does not rest upon
mere inferential evidence. The Agricultural Society of Baton Rouge,
La., in its report, published in 1829, furnishes a labored estimate of
the amount of expenditure necessarily incurred in conducting "a
well-regulated sugar estate." In this estimate, the annual net loss
of slaves, over and above the supply by propagation, is set down at
TWO AND A HALF PER CENT! The late Hon. Josiah S. Johnson, a member of
Congress from Louisiana, addressed a letter to the Secretary of the
United States' Treasury, in 1830, containing a similar estimate,
apparently made with great care, and going into minute details. Many
items in this estimate differ from the preceding; but the estimate of
the annual _decrease_ of the slaves on a plantation was the same - TWO

The following testimony of Rev. Dr. Channing, of Boston, who resided
some time in Virginia, shows that the over-working of slaves, to such
an extent as to abridge life, and cause a decrease of population, is
not confined to the far south and south-west.

"I heard of an estate managed by an individual who was considered as
singularly successful, and who was able to govern the slaves without
the use of the whip. I was anxious to see him, and trusted that some
discovery had been made favorable to humanity. I asked him how he was
able to dispense with corporal punishment. He replied to me, with a
very determined look, 'The slaves know that the work _must_ be done,
and that it is better to do it without punishment than with it.' In
other words, the certainty and dread of chastisement were so impressed
on them, that they never incurred it.

"I then found that the slaves on this well-managed estate, _decreased_
in number. I asked the cause. He replied, with perfect frankness and
ease, 'The gang is not large enough for the estate.' In other words,
they were not equal to the work of the plantation, and, yet were _made
to do it_, though with the certainty of abridging life.

"On this plantation the huts were uncommonly convenient. There was an
unusual air of neatness. A superficial observer would have called the
slaves happy. Yet they were living under a severe, subduing
discipline, and were _over-worked_ to a degree that _shortened
life_." - _Channing on Slavery_, page 162, first edition.

PHILEMON BLISS, Esq., a lawyer of Elyria, Ohio, who spent some time in
Florida, gives the following testimony to the over-working of the

"It is not uncommon for hands, in hurrying times, beside working all
day, to labor half the night. This is usually the case on sugar
plantations, during the sugar-boiling season; and on cotton, during
its gathering. Beside the regular task of picking cotton, averaging of
the short staple, when the crop is good, 100 pounds a day to the hand,
the ginning (extracting the seed,) and baling was done in the night.
Said Mr. - - to me, while conversing upon the customary labor of
slaves, 'I work my niggers in a hurrying time till 11 or 12 o'clock at
night, and have them up by four in the morning.'

"Beside the common inducement, the desire of gain, to make a large
crop, the desire is increased by that spirit of gambling, so common at
the south. It is very common to _bet_ on the issue of a crop. A.
lays a wager that, from a given number of hands, he will make more
cotton than B. The wager is accepted, and then begins the contest; and
who bears the burden of it? How many tears, yea, how many broken
constitutions, and premature deaths, have been the effect of this
spirit? From the desperate energy of purpose with which the gambler
pursues his object, from the passions which the practice calls into
exercise, we might conjecture many. Such is the fact. In Middle
Florida, a _broken-winded_ negro is more common than a _broken-winded_
horse; though usually, when they are declared unsound, or when their
constitution is so broken that their recovery is despaired of, they
are exported to New Orleans, to drag out the remainder of their days
in the cane-field and sugar house. I would not insinuate that all
planters gamble upon their crops; but I mention the practice as one of
the common inducements to 'push niggers.' Neither would I assert that
all planters drive the hands to the injury of their health. I give it
as a _general_ rule in the district of Middle Florida, and I have no
reason to think that negroes are driven worse there than in other
fertile sections. People there told me that the situation of the
slaves was far better than in Mississippi and Louisiana. And from
comparing the crops with those made in the latter states, and for
other reasons, I am convinced of the truth of their statements."

DR. DEMMING, a gentleman of high respectability, residing in Ashland,
Richland county, Ohio, stated to Professor Wright, of New York city,

"That during a recent tour at the south, while ascending the Ohio
river, on the steamboat Fame, he had an opportunity of conversing with
a Mr. Dickinson, a resident of Pittsburg, in company with a number of
cotton-planters and slave-dealers, from Louisiana, Alabama, and
Mississippi, Mr. Dickinson stated as a fact, that the sugar planters
upon the sugar coast in Louisiana had ascertained, that, as it was

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