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Slavery and the Slave Trade


John Simkin
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I have been commissioned to produce a simulation on slavery by the HA/Becta. I have finished the first draft and I am interested in finding teachers willing to try it out in the classroom. I have until March to revise it.

The simulation takes place in 1800. The participants have various views on the subject of slavery. Some wish to retain slavery in the British Empire. Others want to abolish slavery. A third group wants to retain slavery but is in favour of banning the slave trade. The fourth group is made up of former slaves. A fifth group is made up of slave owners. There is a total of 20 biographies available.

The purpose of the simulation is to explore the wide views held on slavery and the slave trade. It is hoped that the simulation will help students to understand the moral, political and economic arguments that were going on at the time.

Please email me if you want to receive a copy of the material you will need for the simulation.

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Why don't you post it up on the Forum so members can download it and then feedback???

That would save a lot of time and e-mailing :up

Good idea this is the current teaching guidance:

Outline of Simulation

The simulation takes place in 1800. The participants have various views on the subject of slavery. Some wish to retain slavery in the British Empire. Others want to abolish slavery. A third group wants to retain slavery but is in favour of banning the slave trade. The fourth group is made up of former slaves.

Part 1

Students study details of their character: “Biographies”. They also read ‘Information on Slavery’ and ‘Primary Sources on Slavery’. All students write one question for every other group in the classroom. A copy of these questions are submitted to the groups concerned. These are evenly distributed amongst group members. They then prepare answers to the questions they might receive. Students then take it in turn to be interviewed by the different groups. Students must stay in character throughout the interviews.

Part 2

Each student writes a short speech that explains their views on slavery. At the end of the debate students vote on the motions:

(i) The House of Commons should abolish the slave trade

(ii) The House of Commons should abolish slavery

Group A: Wants to retain slavery

William Pitt

Robert Jenkinson

Henry Addington

Spencer Perceval

Group B: Wants to retain slavery but is in favour of banning the slave trade.

William Wilberforce

Charles Fox

Lord Grenville

Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Group C: Wants to abolish slavery and the slave trade

Henry Brougham

Thomas Fowell Buxton

Tom Paine

Thomas Clarkson

Group D: People who want to abolish slavery

Granville Sharp

Elizabeth Pease

Elizabeth Heyrick

Anne Knight

Group E: Former slaves

Olaudah Equiano

Ottobah Cugoano

Phillis Wheatley

Zamba Zembola

Group F: Supporters of Slavery and the Slave Trade

Edward Long

Edward Thicknesse

Duke of Clarence

Bishop of Rochester

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Information on Slavery

1. Between 1451 and 1600 an estimated 376,000 slaves were imported to the Americas from Africa.

2. By 1540, an estimated 10,000 slaves a year were being brought from Africa to replace the diminishing local populations in the West Indies.

3. It is estimated that over a million people lived in Cuba before the arrival of the Europeans in 1512. Twenty-five years later there were only 2,000 left. Large numbers had been killed, while others died of starvation, disease, committed suicide or had died from the consequences of being forced to work long hours in the gold mines. Those that died were replaced by slaves from Africa.

4. By 1560 it was estimated that 40 million people living in the Americas had died because of their contact with the Europeans.

5. Between 1601 and 1700 an estimated 1,365,000 slaves were imported to the Americas from Africa.

6. A study of the Royal African Company revealed that between 1680 and 1688, 249 of its ships carried 60,783 slaves, of whom only 45,396 survived the voyage (a death rate of 24 per cent).

7. It is estimated that in the 16th century merchants made an average of 300% profit on the money they invested in the slave trade.

8. In the 17th century slaves could be purchased in Africa for about $25 and sold in the Americas for about $150.

9. Between 1701 and 1810 an estimated 6,051,700 slaves were imported to the Americas from Africa.

10. The slave trade became known as the ‘triangular trade’ because it involved three connected voyages. Ships would leave British ports, such as Liverpool and Bristol, carrying guns, metal goods and textiles. When the ships arrived on the West African coast, these goods would be exchanged for slaves. The ships would then take these slaves across the Atlantic to the Americas. In return for the slaves, the colonists would supply the British merchants with cotton, tobacco, ginger, sugar and rum.

11. The French slaving town of Nantes kept an accurate record of what happened to the slaves that they transported from Africa to the Americas. It was discovered that between 1737 and 1741 19.4 of slaves died from disease on the journey. A further 19.6 died from other causes.

12. In his book The Wealth of Nations published in 1776, Adam Smith argued that people who were paid wages worked much harder than those being threatened with whips. He therefore argued that productivity on the sugar and tobacco plantations would increase if the slaves were given their freedom.

13. By 1790 over 25% of Liverpool’s shipping was employed solely in the slave trade.

14. The only successful slave revolt took place on the French-owned island of St Domingue (Haiti) in 1791.

15. A large number of wealthy people in Britain owned slaves in the Americas. For example, the Bishop of Exeter, owned 665 slaves in the West Indies.

16. By 1800 Britain was responsible for moving 40% of Europe’s trade in slaves.

17. It has been estimated that in the second-half of the 18th century British merchants made £12 million profit out from trading over, 2,500,000 Africans.

18. By the end of the 18th century the price of slaves began to fall in American markets. It now became very difficult for slave merchants to make a profit from the slave trade.

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Group A: Wants to retain slavery

William Pitt

William Pitt was born in Kent in 1759. The son of the prime minister he became an M.P. in 1781. At the age of only twenty-four he became prime minister. In 1798 Pitt introduced a new graduated income tax. He was a supporter of the slave trade, arguing it helped to make the country wealthy.

Robert Jenkinson

Robert Jenkinson, the eldest son of the first Earl of Liverpool, was born in 1770. At the age of twenty he became a M.P. A member of the Tory Party, Jenkinson opposed parliamentary reform and attempts to abolish the slave trade.

Henry Addington

Henry Addington was born in 1759. He worked as a lawyer before he became a M.P for Devizes in 1784. A member of the Tory Party, Jenkinson opposed parliamentary reform and attempts to abolish the slave trade.

Spencer Perceval

Spencer Perceval, the son of the 2nd Earl of Egmont, was born in 1762. After being educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge, he became a lawyer. In 1796 Perceval was elected MP for Northampton. A member of the Tory Party, Perceval was opposed parliamentary reform and attempts to abolish the slave trade.

Group B: In favour of banning the slave trade but willing to retain slavery.

William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce, the son of a wealthy merchant, was born in Hull in 1759. He was elected to the House of Commons at the age of 20. In 1784 Wilberforce became converted to Evangelical Christianity. As a result of this conversion, Wilberforce became interested in social reform and was eventually approached by Lady Middleton, to use his power as an MP to bring an end to the slave trade. He agreed, arguing that the UK should end the slave trade for moral and economic reasons.

Charles Fox

Charles Fox was born in 1749. After being educated at Eton and Oxford University, Fox was elected to represent Midhurst in the House of Commons when he was only nineteen. In 1780 Fox became a supporter of parliamentary reform. Fox also promoted Catholic Emancipation and opposed the slave trade.

Lord Grenville

William Grenville was born in 1759. After studying at Eton and Oxford University, he entered the House of Commons in 1782 when he was elected to represent Buckinghamshire. Two years later he was appointed postmaster-general. In 1790 Grenville he was granted the title Lord Grenville. In February, 1806 Lord Grenville was invited by the king to form a new Whig administration. Grenville, was a strong opponent of the slave trade.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Richard Brinsley Sheridan was born in Dublin in 1751. Sheridan's parents moved to London and in 1762 he was sent to Harrow School. Sheridan began writing plays and on 17th January, 1775, the Covent Garden Theatre produced his comedy, The Rivals. In 1776 Sheridan met Charles Fox, the leader of the Radical Whigs in the House of Commons. Sheridan now decided to abandon his writing in favour of a political career. On 12th September, 1780, Sheridan became MP for Stafford. Like Fox he opposed the slave trade.

Group C: Wants to abolish slavery and the slave trade

Henry Brougham

Henry Brougham was born in Edinburgh in September, 1778. Henry, was extremely intelligent and was accepted as a student at Edinburgh University at the age of 14 to study science and mathematics. Brougham worked as a lawyer in Edinburgh before moving to London where he became friends with a group of radicals that included Thomas Barnes, William Hazlitt, Lord Byron, and Charles Lamb. Broughham, like his friends, supported parliamentary reform and opposed slavery and the slave trade.

Tom Paine

Tom Paine, the son of a Quaker corset maker, was born in Thetford in Norfolk in 1737. Paine worked as a school teacher and an excise officer. He wrote several political books including Common Sense (1776) and The Rights of Man (1791). The book recommended universal suffrage, progressive taxation, family allowances, old age pensions, maternity grants and the abolition of the House of Lords. Paine was also opposed to slavery and the slave trade.

Thomas Clarkson

Thomas Clarkson was born in Wisbech in 1760. He was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, and was afterwards ordained as a deacon. In 1785 he had a spiritual experience. He later described how he had "a direct revelation from God ordering me to devote my life to abolishing the trade." Clarkson contacted Granville Sharp, who had already started a campaign to end the slave-trade. In 1787 Clarkson and Sharp formed the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Granville Sharp

Granville Sharp was born in Durham in 1735. The son of an archdeacon, and the grandson of the Archbishop of York, Sharp decided against a career in the Church of England and instead served an apprenticeship in London as a linen-draper. The work did not satisfy him and in 1758 obtain a post as a clerk in the civil service. Sharp developed radical political opinions and argued in favour of parliamentary reform and an increase in the low wages paid to farm labourers. . In 1787 Sharp and his friend Thomas Clarkson formed the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Group D: People who want to abolish slavery

Jane Smeal

Jane Smeal, the daughter of William Smeal, a Quaker tea merchant from Glasgow, was one of the leading figures in female the anti-slavery movement. Jane joined with Elizabeth Pease to help women form their own anti-slavery societies. Jane established the Glasgow Ladies Emancipation Society whereas Elizabeth created the Darlington Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society.

Elizabeth Coltman

Elizabeth Coltman was born in Leicester in 1769. Her father, John Coltman, a committed Unitarian, was a successful worsted manufacturer. Coltman held progressive political views and as a young women was introduced to the ideas of Tom Paine. In 1795 Elizabeth renounced all worldly pleasures and devoted herself to social reform. She campaigned against bull-baiting and became a prison visitor. Elizabeth also wrote eighteen political pamphlets on a wide variety of subjects including slavery, the Corn Laws and the harsh treatment of vagrants.

Anne Knight

Anne Knight, the daughter of William Knight, a wholesale grocer, was born in Chelmsford in 1781. The Knight family were members of the Society of Friends and were pacifists and also took an active role in the Anti-Slavery and Temperance campaigns. Anne became deeply involved in the Quaker attempt to end slavery. In Chelmsford she organised petitions, distributed literature and arranged public meetings. Anne also formed a branch of the Women's Anti-Slavery Society in Chelmsford.

Joseph Priestley

Joseph Priestley, the son of a cloth-dresser from Leeds, was born in 1733. Joseph was a brilliant student and with the help of local teachers, Joseph became proficient in physics, philosophy, algebra, mathematics and several different languages. In 1755 Joseph Priestley became a minister at the Presbyterian church at Needham Market. In 1791 Priestley published A Political Dialogue on the General Principles of Government. In the book Priestley expressed similar political ideas to those expressed by Tom Paine in the Rights of Man. Priestley was a strong opponent of both slavery and the slave trade.

Group E: Former slaves

Olaudah Equiano

Olaudah Equiano was born in Essaka, an Igbo village in the kingdom of Benin, in 1745. When he was about eleven, Equiano was kidnapped and after six months of captivity he was brought to the coast where he encountered white men for the first time. Sold to slave-traders, Equiano was transported to Barbados. After a two-week stay in the West Indies Equiano was sent to the English colony of Virginia. He was later purchased by Captain Henry Pascal, a British naval officer. Equiano saved whatever money he could, and in 1766 purchased his freedom. He then worked closely with Granvile Sharpe and Thomas Clarkson in the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Equiano spoke at a large number of public meetings where he described the cruelty of the slave trade.

Ottobah Cugoano

Ottobah Cugoano was born in Africa. As a child he was kidnapped and sold as a slave to plantation owners in Grenada. He remained in the West Indies until purchased by an English merchant. He was taken to England where he worked as the man's servant. Taught to read and write, Cugoano published an account of his experiences, Narrative of the Enslavement of a Native of America, in 1787.

Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley was born in Senegal in about 1753. She was captured by slave traders and brought to America in 1761. Purchased by John Wheatley, a tailor from Boston, Phillis was taught to read by one of Wheatley's daughters. Phillis studied English, Latin and Greek and in 1767 began writing poetry. Her first poem, on the death of George Whitefield, was published in 1770. When Phillis was eighteen she travelled to London and while there the Countess of Huntingdon, helped her publish a collection of her work, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773).

Zamba Zembola

Zamba Zembola, the son of a king of a small community in the Congo, was born in about 1780. When he was in his early twenties he was invited by a Captain Winton, to accompany him to America on his slave ship. After arriving in America, he was kidnapped and sold as a slave. Zamba worked on a plantation for over forty years before he managed to achieve his freedom. He later published his autobiography, The Life and Adventures of Zamba, an African King.

Group F: Advocates of Slavery and the Slave Trade

Edward Long

Edward Long was born in Cornwall in 1734. His father was a plantation owner in Jamaica. After studying law in England he moved to Jamaica and established his own plantation. Long was proud of his work and he defended slavery and the slave trade in his book, The History of Jamaica (1774).

Edward Thicknesse

Edward Thicknesse was born in 1719. As a young man he moved to the English colony of Georgia in America. Later he settled in Jamaica where he became a plantation owner. In 1778 he wrote a book about his experiences as a slave owner.

Duke of Clarence

William, the third son of King George III, was born in 1765. He entered the navy in 1779, and saw service in America and the West Indies. In 1789 he was granted the title, the Duke of Clarence and given an allowance of £12,000 a year. William remained in the navy and later reached the rank of admiral.

The Duke of Clarence was a strong supporter of slavery. He attacked those trying to get slavery abolished and called them “fanatics or hypocrites”. In the House of Lords he argued that the end of the slave trade would destroy lots of jobs in ports such as Bristol and Liverpool. In 1830 his older brother, George IV died and he became King William IV.

Henry Phillpotts, Bishop of Exeter

Henry Phillpotts was born in 1778. After studying at Oxford University he took holy orders in 1802. He came from a rich family and inherited over 600 slaves in the West Indies. He supported the slave trade as a means of converting "heathens”. In 1831 he was appointed Bishop of Exeter. He held the post for the next 38 years.

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Sources on Slavery

(A1) Slave System in Africa

(1) Ottobah Cugoano, Narrative of the Enslavement of a Native of Africa (1787)

I was early snatched away from my native country, with about eighteen or twenty more boys and girls, as we were playing in a field. We lived but a few days' journey from the coast where we were kidnapped, and consigned to Grenada. Some of us attempted, in vain, to run away, but pistols and cutlasses were soon introduced, threatening, that if we offered to stir, we should all lie dead on the spot.

We were soon led out of the way which we knew, and towards evening, as we came in sight of a town. I was soon conducted to a prison, for three days, where I heard the groans and cries of many, and saw some of my fellow-captives. But when a vessel arrived to conduct us away to the ship, it was a most horrible scene; there was nothing to be heard but the rattling of chains, smacking of whips, and the groans and cries of our fellow-men. Some would not stir from the ground, when they were lashed and beat in the most horrible manner.

(2) Olaudah Equiano, was captured and sold as a slave in the kingdom of Benin in Africa. He wrote about his experiences in The Life of Olaudah Equiano the African (1789)

Generally, when the grown people in the neighbourhood were gone far in the fields to labour, the children assembled together in some of the neighborhood's premises to play; and commonly some of us used to get up a tree to look out for any assailant, or kidnapper, that might come upon us; for they sometimes took those opportunities of our parents' absence, to attack and carry off as many as they could seize.

One day, when all our people were gone out to their works as usual, and only I and my dear sister were left to mind the house, two men and a woman got over our walls, and in a moment seized us both; and, without giving us time to cry out, or make resistance, they stopped our mouths, and ran off with us into the nearest wood. Here they tied our hands, and continued to carry us as far as they could, till night came on, when we reached a small house, where the robbers halted for refreshment, and spent the night. We were then unbound; but were unable to take any food; and, being quite overpowered by fatigue and grief, our only relief was some sleep, which allayed our misfortune for a short time. he first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast, was the sea, and a slave ship, which was then riding at anchor, and waiting for its cargo. These filled me with astonishment, which was soon converted into terror, when I was carried on board. I was immediately handled, and tossed up to see if I were sound, by some of the crew; and I was now persuaded that I had gotten into a world of bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me.

(3) Mungo Park was a Scottish explorer who went to Africa to find the source of the River Niger. He wrote about his experiences in his book Travels to the Interiors of Africa (1799).

The slaves are commonly secured by putting the right leg of one, and the left of another into the same pair of fetters. By supporting the fetters with string they can walk very slowly. Every four slaves are likewise fastened together by the necks. They were led out in their fetters every morning to the shade of the tamarind tree where they were encouraged to sing diverting songs to keep up their spirits; for although some of them sustained the hardships of their situation with amazing fortitude, the greater part were very much dejected, and would sit all day in the sort of sullen melancholy with their eyes fixed upon the ground.

(4) Alexander Falcolnbridge visited Africa in the 1780s. He wrote about what he saw in his book An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa (1788).

When the negroes whom the black traders have to dispose of are shown to the European purchasers, they first examine them relative to age. They then minutely inspect their persons, and inquire into their state of health; if they are afflicted with any infirmity, or are deformed, or have bad eyes or teeth; if they are lame, or weak in the joints, or distorted in the back, or of a slender make, or are narrow in the chest; in short, if they have been afflicted in any manner so as to render them incapable of such labour they are rejected. The traders frequently beat those negroes which are objected to by the captains. Instances have happened that the traders, when any of their negroes have been objected to have instantly beheaded them in the sight of the captain.

(A2) Slave Ships

(1) Ottobah Cugoano, Narrative of the Enslavement of a Native of Africa (1787)

We were taken in the ship that came for us, to another that was ready to sail from Cape Coast. When we were put into the ship, we saw several black merchants coming on board, but we were all drove into our holes, and not suffered to speak to any of them. In this situation we continued several days in sight of our native land. And when we found ourselves at last taken away, death was more preferable than life; and a plan was concerted amongst us, that we might burn and blow up the ship, and to perish all together in the flames: but we were betrayed by one of our own countrywomen, who slept with some of the headmen of the ship, for it was common for the dirty filthy sailors to take the African women and lie upon their bodies; but the men were chained and pent up in holes. It was the women and boys which were to burn the ship, with the approbation and groans of the rest; though that was prevented, the discovery was likewise a cruel bloody scene.

But it would be needless to give a description of all the horrible scenes which we saw, and the base treatment which we met with in this dreadful captive situation, as the similar cases of thousands, which suffer by this infernal traffic, are well known. Let it suffice to say that I was thus lost to my dear indulgent parents and relations, and they to me. All my help was cries and tears, and these could not avail, nor suffered long, till one succeeding woe and dread swelled up another. Brought from a state of innocence and freedom, and, in a barbarous and cruel manner, conveyed to a state of horror and slavery, this abandoned situation may be easier conceived than described.

(2) Olaudah Equiano, was captured and sold as a slave in the kingdom of Benin in Africa. He wrote about his experiences in The Life of Olaudah Equiano the African (1789)

The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast, was the sea, and a slave ship, which was then riding at anchor, and waiting for its cargo. These filled me with astonishment, which was soon converted into terror, when I was carried on board. I was immediately handled, and tossed up to see if I were sound, by some of the crew; and I was now persuaded that I had gotten into a world of bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me.

I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a greeting in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life; so that, with the loathsomeness of the stench, and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste anything. I now wished for the last friend, death, to relieve me; but soon, to my grief, two of the white men offered me eatables; and, on my refusing to eat, one of them held me fast by the hands, and laid me across, I think, the windlass, and tied my feet, while the other flogged me severely.

The white people looked and acted, as I thought, in so savage a manner; for I had never seen among my people such instances of brutal cruelty. The closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us.

The air soon became unfit for respiration, from a variety of loathsome smells, and brought on a sickness among the slaves, of which many died. The wretched situation was again aggravated by the chains, now unsupportable, and the filth of the necessary tubs, into which the children often fell, and were almost suffocated. The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying, rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable.

(3) Zamba Zembola, The Life and Adventures of Zamba and African Slave (1847)

Captain Winton told me in the course of our voyage, that, in the early part of his experience in the slave-trade, he had seen slaves where they were literally packed on the top of each other; and consequently, from ill air, confinement, and scanty or unwholesome provision, disease was generated to such an extent that in several cases he had known only one-half survive to the end of the voyage; and these, as he termed it, in a very unmarketable condition. He found, therefore, that, by allowing them what he called sufficient room and good provisions, with kind treatment, his speculations turned out much better in regard to the amount of dollars received; and that was all he cared for.

After being about 15 days out to sea a heavy squall struck the ship. The poor slaves below, altogether unprepared for such an occurrence, were mostly thrown to the side, where they lay heaped on the top of each other; their fetters rendered many of them helpless, and before they could be arranged in their proper places, and relived from their pressure on each other, it was found that 15 of them were smothered or crushed to death. The captain seemed considerably vexed; but the only grievance to him was the sudden loss of some five or six thousand dollars.

(4) Thomas Phillips, a slave-ship captain, wrote an account of his activities in A Journal of a Voyage (1746)

I have been informed that some commanders have cut off the legs or arms of the most willful slaves, to terrify the rest, for they believe that, if they lose a member, they cannot return home again: I was advised by some of my officers to do the same, but I could not be persuaded to entertain the least thought of it, much less to put in practice such barbarity and cruelty to poor creatures who, excepting their want of Christianity and true religion (their misfortune more than fault), are as much the works of God's hands, and no doubt as dear to him as ourselves.

(5) Thomas Clarkson interviewed a sailor who worked on a slave-ship and published the account in his book, Essay on the Slave Trade (1789)

The misery which the slaves endure in consequence of too close a stowage is not easy to describe. I have heard them frequently complaining of heat, and have seen them fainting, almost dying for want of water. Their situation is worse in rainy weather. We do everything for them in our power. In all the vessels in which I have sailed in the slave trade, we never covered the gratings with a tarpawling, but made a tarpawling awning over the booms, but some were still panting for breath.

(6) Dr. Thomas Trotter, a physician working on the slave-ship, Brookes, was interviewed by a House of Commons committee in 1790. This is how he replied when he was asked if the "slaves had room to turn themselves".

No. The slaves that are out of irons are locked "spoonways"" and locked to one another. It is the duty of the first mate to see them stowed in this manner every morning; those which do not get quickly into their places are compelled by the cat and, such was the situation when stowed in this manner, and when the ship had much motion at sea, they were often miserably bruised against the deck or against each other. I have seen their breasts heaving and observed them draw their breath, with all those laborious and anxious efforts for life which we observe in expiring animals subjected by experiment to bad air of various kinds.

(A3) Slave Markets

(1) William Wells Brown, The American Slave-Trade, The Liberty Bell (1848)

Few persons who have visited the slave states have not, on their return, told of the gangs of slaves they had seen on their way to the southern market. This trade presents some of the most revolting and atrocious scenes which can be imagined. Slave-prisons, slave-auctions, handcuffs, whips, chains, bloodhounds, and other instruments of cruelty, are part of the furniture which belongs to the American slave-trade. It is enough to make humanity bleed at every pore, to see these implements of torture.

Known to God only is the amount of human agony and suffering which sends its cry from these slave-prisons, unheard or unheeded by man, up to His ear; mothers weeping for their children -- breaking the night-silence with the shrieks of their breaking hearts. We wish no human being to experience emotions of needless pain, but we do wish that every man, woman, and child in New England, could visit a southern slave-prison and auction-stand.

I shall never forget a scene which took place in the city of St. Louis, while I was in slavery. A man and his wife, both slaves, were brought from the country to the city, for sale. They were taken to the rooms of Austin & Savage, auctioneers.

Several slave-speculators, who are always to be found at auctions where slaves are to be sold, were present. The man was first put up, and sold to the highest bidder. The wife was next ordered to ascend the platform. I was present. She slowly obeyed the order. The auctioneer commenced, and soon several hundred dollars were bid. My eyes were intensely fixed on the face of the woman, whose cheeks were wet with tears. But a conversation between the slave and his new master attracted my attention. I drew near them to listen. The slave was begging his new master to purchase his wife. Said he, "Master, if you will only buy Fanny, I know you will get the worth of your money. She is a good cook, a good washer, and her last mistress liked her very much. If you will only buy her how happy I shall be." The new master replied that he did not want her but if she sold cheap he would purchase her. I watched the countenance of the man while the different persons were bidding on his wife. When his new master bid on his wife you could see the smile upon his countenance, and the tears stop; but as soon as another would bid, you could see the countenance change and the tears start afresh.

From this change of countenance one could see the workings of the inmost soul. But this suspense did not last long; the wife was struck off to the highest bidder, who proved not to be the owner of her husband. As soon as they became aware that they were to be separated, they both burst into tears; and as she descended from the auction-stand, the husband, walking up to her and taking her by the hand, said, "Well, Fanny, we are to part forever, on earth; you have been a good wife to me. I did all that I could to get my new master to buy you; but he did not want you, and all I have to say is, I hope you will try to meet me in heaven. I shall try to meet you there." The wife made no reply, but her sobs and cries told, too well, her own feelings. I saw the countenances of a number of whites who were present, and whose eyes were dim with tears at hearing the man bid his wife farewell. Such are but common occurrences in the slave states. At these auction-stands, bones, muscles, sinews, blood and nerves, of human beings, are sold with as much indifference as a farmer in the north sells a horse or sheep.

(2) Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave (1847)

In the first place we were required to wash thoroughly, and those with beards, to shave. We were then furnished with a new suit each, cheap, but clean. The men had hat, coat, shirt, pants and shoes; the women frocks of calico, and handkerchiefs to bind about their heads. We were now conducted into a large room in the front part of the building to which the yard was attached, in order to be properly trained, before the admission of customers. The men were arranged on one side of the room, the women on the other. The tallest was placed at the head of the row, then the next tallest, and so on in the order of their respective heights. Emily was at the foot of the line of women. Freeman charged us to remember our places; exhorted us to appear smart and lively, - sometimes threatening, and again, holding out various inducements. During the day he exercised us in the art of "looking smart," and of moving to our places with exact precision.

After being fed, in the afternoon, we were again paraded and made to dance. Bob, a colored boy, who had some time belonged to Freeman, played on the violin. Standing near him, I made bold to inquire if he could play the "Virginia Reel." He answered he could not, and asked me if I could play. Replying in the affirmative, he handed me the violin. I struck up a tune, and finished it. Freeman ordered me to continue playing, and seemed well pleased, telling Bob that I far excelled him - a remark that seemed to grieve my musical companion very much.

Next day many customers called to examine Freeman's "new lot." The latter gentleman was very loquacious, dwelling at much length upon our several good points and qualities. He would make us hold up our heads, walk briskly back and forth, while customers would feel of our hands and arms and bodies, turn us about, ask us what we could do, make us open our mouths and show our teeth, precisely as a jockey examines a horse which he is about to barter for or purchase. Sometimes a man or woman was taken back to the small house in the yard, stripped, and inspected more minutely. Scars upon a slave's back were considered evidence of a rebellious or unruly spirit, and hurt his sale.

One old gentleman, who said he wanted a coachman, appeared to take a fancy to me. From his conversation with Burch, I learned he was a resident in the city. I very much desired that he would buy me, because I conceived it would not be difficult to make my escape from New-Orleans on some northern vessel. Freeman asked him fifteen hundred dollars for me. The old gentleman insisted it was too much, as times were very hard. Freeman, however, declared that I was sound and healthy, of a good constitution, and intelligent. He made it a point to enlarge upon my musical attainments. The old gentleman argued quite adroitly that there was nothing extraordinary about the n, and finally, to my regret, went out, saying he would call again. During the day, however, a number of sales were made. David and Caroline were purchased together by a Natchez planter. They left us, grinning broadly, and in the most happy state of mind, caused by the fact of their not being separated. Lethe was sold to a planter of Baton Rouge, her eyes flashing with anger as she was led away.

The same man also purchased Randall. The little fellow was made to jump, and run across the floor, and perform many other feats, exhibiting his activity and condition. All the time the trade was going on, Eliza was crying aloud, and wringing her hands. She besought the man not to buy him, unless he also bought her self and Emily. She promised, in that case, to be the most faithful slave that ever lived. The man answered that he could not afford it, and then Eliza burst into a paroxysm of grief, weeping plaintively. Freeman turned round to her, savagely, with his whip in his uplifted hand, ordering her to stop her noise, or he would flog her. He would not have such work - such snivelling; and unless she ceased that minute, he would take her to the yard and give her a hundred lashes. Yes, he would take the nonsense out of her pretty quick - if he didn't, might he be dead. Eliza shrunk before him, and tried to wipe away her tears, but it was all in vain. She wanted to be with her children, she said, the little time she had to live. All the frowns and threats of Freeman, could not wholly silence the afflicted mother. She kept on begging and beseeching them, most piteously not to separate the three. Over and over again she told them how she loved her boy. A great many times she repeated her former promises - how very faithful and obedient she would be; how hard she would labor day and night, to the last moment of her life, if he would only buy them all together. But it was of no avail; the man could not afford it. The bargain was agreed upon, and Randall must go alone. Then Eliza ran to him; embraced him passionately; kissed him again and again; told him to remember her - all the while her tears falling in the boy's face like rain.

(3) Thomas Johnson, Twenty-Eight Years a Slave (1909)

Hardly a day passed without some one of my own long oppressed people being led to the whipping post, and there lashed most unmercifully. Every auction day many were sold away to Georgia, or some other of the far off Southern States, and often could be seen in companies, handcuffed, and on their way to the Southern markets, doomed, doomed to perpetual slavery. So absolutely were the slaves in the power of their masters that they were pledged, leased, exchanged, taken for debt or gambled off at the gambling table; and men women, and children were sold by auction at the public auction block - husbands and wives separated, never to meet again, and little children torn from their parents' loving arms, and sold into slavery, and into the hands of strangers from distant parts.

(4) Henry Bibb, The Life and Adventures of an American Slave (1851)

A slave may be bought and sold in the market like an ox. He is liable to be sold off to a distant land from his family. He is bound in chains hand and foot; and his sufferings are aggravated a hundred fold, by the terrible thought, that he is not allowed to struggle against misfortune, corporal punishment, insults and outrages committed upon himself and family; and he is not allowed to help himself, to resist or escape the blow, which he sees impending over him. I was a slave, a prisoner for life; I could possess nothing, nor acquire anything but what must belong to my keeper. No one can imagine my feelings in my reflecting moments, but he who has himself been a slave.

(A4) Field Slaves

(1) Moses Grandy, Life of a Slave (1843)

MacPherson was an overseer where slaves were employed in cutting canals. The labour there is very severe. The ground is often very boggy: the negroes are up to the middle or much deeper in mud and water, cutting away roots and baling out mud: if they can keep their heads above water, they work on. They lodge in huts, or as they are called camps, made of shingles or boards. They lie down in the mud which has adhered to them, making a great fire to dry themselves, and keep off the cold. No bedding whatever is allowed them; it is only by work done over his task, that any of them can get a blanket. They are paid nothing except for this overwork. Their masters come once a month to receive the money for their labour: then perhaps some few very good masters will give them two dollars each, some others one dollar, some a pound of tobacco, and some nothing at all. The food is more abundant than that of field slaves; indeed it is the best allowance in America: it consists of a peck of meal, and six pounds of pork per week; the pork is commonly not good, it is damaged, and is bought as cheap as possible at auctions.

(2) Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845)

We were worked in all weathers. It was never too hot or too cold; it could never rain, blow, hail, or snow, too hard for us to work in the field. Work, work, work, was scarcely more the order of the day than of the night. The longest days were too short for him, and the shortest nights too long for him. I was somewhat unmanageable when I first went there, but a few months of this discipline tamed me. Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me. I was broken in body, soul, and spirit. My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute!

Sunday was my only leisure time. I spent this in a sort of beast-like stupor, between sleep and wake, under some large tree. At times I would rise up, a flash of energetic freedom would dart through my soul, accompanied with a faint beam of hope, that flickered for a moment, and then vanished. I sank down again, mourning over my wretched condition. I was sometimes prompted to take my life, and that of Covey, but was prevented by a combination of hope and fear. My sufferings on this plantation seem now like a dream rather than a stern reality.

(3) Henry Clay Bruce, Twenty-Nine Years a Slave (1895)

During the crop season in Virginia, slave men and women worked in the fields daily, and such females as had sucklings were allowed to come to them three times a day between sun rise and sun set, for the purpose of nursing their babes, who were left in the care of an old woman, who was assigned to the care of these children because she was too old or too feeble for field work. Such old women usually had to care for, and prepare the meals of all children under working age. They were furnished with plenty of good, wholesome food by the master, who took special care to see that it was properly cooked and served to them as often as they desired it. On very large plantations there were many such old women, who spent the remainder of their lives caring for children of younger women.

(4) Austin Steward, Twenty-Two Years a Slave (1857)

It was the rule for the slaves to rise and be ready for their task by sun-rise, on the blowing of a horn or conch-shell; and woe be to the unfortunate, who was not in the field at the time appointed, which was in thirty minutes from the first sounding of the horn. I have heard the poor creatures beg as for their lives, of the inhuman overseer, to desist from his cruel punishment. Hence, they were usually found in the field "betimes in the morning," (to use an old Virginia phrase), where they worked until nine o'clock. They were then allowed thirty minutes to eat their morning meal, which consisted of a little bread. At a given signal, all hands were compelled to return to their work. They toiled until noon, when they were permitted to take their breakfast, which corresponds to our dinner.

On our plantation, it was the usual practice to have one of the old slaves set apart to do the cooking. All the field hands were required to give into the hands of the cook a certain portion of their weekly allowance, either in dough or meal, which was prepared in the following manner. The cook made a hot fire and rolled up each person's portion in some cabbage leaves, when they could be obtained, and placed it in a hole in the ashes, carefully covered with the same, where it remained until done. Bread baked in this way is very sweet and good. But cabbage leaves could not always be obtained. When this was the case, the bread was little better than a mixture of dough and ashes, which was not very palatable. The time allowed for breakfast, was one hour. At the signal, all hands were obliged to resume their toil. The overseer was always on hand to attend to all delinquents, who never failed to feel the blows of his heavy whip.

(5) William Wells Brown, Narrative of William W. Brown, A Fugitive Slave (1847)

During the time that Mr. Cook was overseer, I was a house servant - a situation preferable to that of a field hand, as I was better fed, better clothed, and not obliged to rise at the ringing of the bell, but about half an hour after. I have often laid and heard the crack of the whip, and the screams of the slave. My mother was a field hand, and one morning was ten or fifteen minutes behind the others in getting into the field. As soon as she reached the spot where they were at work, the overseer commenced whipping her. She cried, "Oh! pray - Oh! pray - Oh! pray" - these are generally the words of slaves, when imploring mercy at the hands of their oppressors. I heard her voice, and knew it, and jumped out of my bunk, and went to the door. Though the field was some distance from the house, I could hear every crack of the whip, and every groan and cry of my poor mother. I remained at the door, not daring to venture any further. The cold chills ran over me, and I wept aloud. After giving her ten lashes, the sound of the whip ceased, and I returned to my bed, and found no consolation but in my tears. Experience has taught me that nothing can be more heart-rending than for one to see a dear and beloved mother or sister tortured, and to hear their cries, and not be able to render them assistance. But such is the position which an American slave occupies.

(A5) House Slaves

(1) Lewis Clarke, Narrative of the Sufferings of Lewis Clark (1845)

There were four house-slaves in this family, including myself, and though we had not, in all respects, so hard work as the field hands, yet in many things our condition was much worse. We were constantly exposed to the whims and passions of every member of the family; from the least to the greatest their anger was wreaked upon us. Nor was our life an easy one, in the hours of our toil or in the amount of labor performed. We were always required to sit up until all the family had retired; then we must be up at early dawn in summer, and before day in winter. If we failed, through weariness or for any other reason, to appear at the first morning summons, we were sure to have our hearing quickened by a severe chastisement. Such horror has seized me, lest I might not hear the first shrill call, that I have often in dreams fancied I heard that unwelcome call, and have leaped from my couch and walked through the house and out of it before I awoke. I have gone and called the other slaves, in my sleep, and asked them if they did not hear master call. Never, while I live, will the remembrance of those long, bitter nights of fear pass from my mind.

(2) Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)

Mrs. Flint, like many southern women, was totally deficient in energy. She had not strength to superintend her household affairs; but her nerves were so strong, that she could sit in her easy chair and see a woman whipped, till the blood trickled from every stroke of the lash. She was a member of the church; but partaking of the Lord's supper did not seem to put her in a Christian frame of mind. If dinner was not served at the exact time on that particular Sunday, she would station herself in the kitchen, and wait till it was dished, and then spit in all the kettles and pans that had been used for cooking. She did this to prevent the cook and her children from eking out their meager fare with the remains of the gravy and other scrapings. The slaves could get nothing to eat except what she chose to give them. Provisions were weighed out by the pound and ounce, three times a day. I can assure you she gave them no chance to eat wheat bread from her flour barrel. She knew how many biscuits a quart of flour would make, and exactly what size they ought to be.

(3) Austin Steward, Twenty-Two Years a Slave (1857)

When eight years of age, I was taken to the "great house," or the family mansion of my master, to serve as an errand boy, where I had to stand in the presence of my master's family all the day, and a part of the night, ready to do any thing which they commanded me to perform. My master's family consisted of himself and wife, and seven children.

Mrs. Helm was a very industrious woman, and generally busy in her household affairs - sewing, knitting, and looking after the servants; but she was a great scold, - continually finding fault with some of the servants, and frequently punishing the young slaves herself, by striking them over the head with a heavy iron key, until the blood ran; or else whipping them with a cowhide, which she always kept by her side when sitting in her room. The older servants she would cause to be punished by having them severely whipped by a man, which she never failed to do for every trifling fault. I have felt the weight of some of her heaviest keys on my own head, and for the slightest offences. No slave could possibly escape being punished - I care not how attentive they might be, nor how industrious - punished they must be, and punished they certainly were.

Mrs. Helm appeared to be uneasy unless some of the servants were under the lash. She came into the kitchen one morning and my mother, who was cook, had just put on the dinner. Mrs. Helm took out her white cambric handkerchief, and rubbed it on the inside of the pot, and it crocked it! That was enough to invoke the wrath of my master, who came forth immediately with his horse-whip, with which he whipped my poor mother most unmercifully-far more severely than I ever knew him to whip a horse.

(4) William Wells Brown, Narrative of William W. Brown, A Fugitive Slave (1847)

During the time that Mr. Cook was overseer, I was a house servant - a situation preferable to that of a field hand, as I was better fed, better clothed, and not obliged to rise at the ringing of the bell, but about half an hour after. I have often laid and heard the crack of the whip, and the screams of the slave. My mother was a field hand, and one morning was ten or fifteen minutes behind the others in getting into the field. As soon as she reached the spot where they were at work, the overseer commenced whipping her. She cried, "Oh! pray - Oh! pray - Oh! pray" - these are generally the words of slaves, when imploring mercy at the hands of their oppressors. I heard her voice, and knew it, and jumped out of my bunk, and went to the door. Though the field was some distance from the house, I could hear every crack of the whip, and every groan and cry of my poor mother. I remained at the door, not daring to venture any further. The cold chills ran over me, and I wept aloud. After giving her ten lashes, the sound of the whip ceased, and I returned to my bed, and found no consolation but in my tears. Experience has taught me that nothing can be more heart-rending than for one to see a dear and beloved mother or sister tortured, and to hear their cries, and not be able to render them assistance. But such is the position which an American slave occupies.

(5) Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave (1831)

Mrs. Williams was a kind-hearted good woman, and she treated all her slaves well. She had only one daughter, Miss Betsey, for whom I was purchased, and who was about my own age. I was made quite a pet of by Miss Betsey, and loved her very much. She used to lead me about by the hand, and call me her little n. This was the happiest period of my life; for I was too young to understand rightly my condition as a slave, and too thoughtless and full of spirits to look forward to the days of toil and sorrow.

My mother was a household slave in the same family. I was under her own care, and my little brothers and sisters were my play-fellows and companions. My mother had several fine children after she came to Mrs. Williams, - three girls and two boys. The tasks given out to us children were light, and we used to play together with Miss Betsey, with as much freedom almost as if she had been our sister.

My master, however, was a very harsh, selfish man; and we always dreaded his return from sea. His wife was herself much afraid of him; and, during his stay at home, seldom dared to show her usual kindness to the slaves. He often left her, in the most distressed circumstances, to reside in other female society, at some place in the West Indies of which I have forgot the name. My poor mistress bore his ill-treatment with great patience, and all her slaves loved and pitied her. I was truly attached to her, and, next to my own mother, loved her better than any creature in the world. My obedience to her commands was cheerfully given: it sprung solely from the affection I felt for her, and not from fear of the power which the white people's law had given her over me.

(A6) Punishment of Slaves

(1) Francis Fredric, Fifty Years of Slavery (1863)

Two slaves, who were perhaps not so completely cowed as the rest, said to my master, who was about to flog them, "No, massa, we not going to be flogged so much, we won't submit." "What is that you say?" my master said, starting back. They repeated, "We are not going to allow you to beat us as you have done." "How will you prevent it?" he said. "You'll see, you'll see, massa," speaking half threateningly. He was evidently afraid of them. When they went home at night he spoke mildly to them, and told them, "he only wanted them to do their work, that it would be better if they could get on in the fields without him. Don't hurry yourselves, my boys."

For two or three days he never went much among them, and when he did he spoke in a very quiet, subdued manner. But mounted negroes were sent with letters to all the plantations around. The slaves had been sent to a species of barn where they shell the Indian corn. Suddenly above a hundred slaveholders, armed with revolvers, marched from different points, and at one time, evidently agreed upon, surrounded the place where the negroes were. All the slaves were ordered out, and the two who had refused to be flogged were made to strip, and my master first had one tied up, and flogged him as hard as he could for some time, the poor slave calling out, "Oh, pray, massa! Oh, pray, massa!"

My master, pausing to take breath, one of the slaveholders said, "I would not flog him in that way, I would put him on a blacksmith's fire, and have the slaves to hold him until I blew the bellows to roast him alive." Then my master started again and flogged until the poor fellow was one mass of blood and raw flesh. The other was tied up and served in a similar manner, one of the slaveholders saying he ought to be tied to a tree and burnt alive. And now I would ask, How can an unarmed, an unorganized, degraded, cowed set of negroes prevent this treatment? The slaveholders can and do flog them to death, and nothing more is thought of it than of a dog being killed.

(2) Olaudah Equiano, The Life of Olaudah Equiano the African (1789)

One man told me that he had sold 41,000 negroes, and that he once cut of a negro man's leg for running away. I told him that the Christian doctrine taught us to do unto others as we would that others should do unto us. He then said that his scheme had the desired effect - it cured that man and some others of running away.

Another negro man was half hanged, and then burnt, for attempting to poison a cruel overseer. Thus, by repeated cruelties, are the wretched first urged to despair, and then murdered, because they still retain so much of human nature about them as to wish to put an end to their misery, and retaliate on their tyrants. These overseers are indeed for the most part persons of the worst character of any denomination of men in the West Indies. Unfortunately, many humane gentlemen, but not residing on their estates, are obliged to leave the management of them in the hands of these human butchers, who cut and mangle the slaves in a shocking manner on the most trifling occasions, and altogether treat them in every respect like brutes.

(3) Advertisement in the North Carolina Standard (28th July, 1838)

Twenty dollars reward. Runaway from the subscriber, a negro woman and two children; the woman is tall and black, and a few days before she went off burnt her on the left side of her face with the letter M. Her children are both boys, the oldest is in his seventh year; he is a mulatto and has blue eyes; the youngest is a black, and is in his fifth year.

(4) St. Louis Gazette (6th November, 1845)

A wealthy man here had a boy named Reuben, almost white, whom he caused to be branded in the face with the words; 'A slave for life.'

(5) Advert in Mississippi Gazette (23rd July, 1836)

A negro man who says his name is Josiah, that he belongs to Mr. John Martin, living in Louisiana, twenty miles below Nathchez. Josiah is five feet eight inches high, heavy built, copper colour; his back very much scarred with the whip, and branded on the thigh and hips in three or four places thus:'J.M.' The rim of his right ear has been bitten or cut off. He is about 31 years of age. Had on, when committed, pantaloons, made of bed-ticking, cotton coat, and an old fur hat very much worn. The owner of the above described negro is requested to comply requisitions of law, in such, cases made and provided for.

(6) William Box Brown, Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown (1851)

About this time Wilson Gregory, who was our overseer, died, and his place was supplied by a man named Stephen Bennett, who had a wooden leg; and who used to creep up behind the slaves to hear what they had to talk about in his absence; but his wooden leg generally betrayed him by coming into contact with something which would make a noise, and that would call the attention of the slaves to what he was about. He was a very mean man in all his ways, and was very much disliked by the slaves. He used to whip them, often, in a shameful manner. On one occasion I saw him take a slave, whose name was Pinkney, and make him take him off his shirt; he then tied his hands and gave him one hundred lashes on his bare back; and all this, because he lacked three pounds of his task, which was valued at six cents.

(7) Lewis Clarke, Narrative of the Sufferings of Lewis Clark (1845)

During the ten years that I lived with Mrs. Banton, I do not think there were as many days, when she was at home, that I, or some other slave, did not receive some kind of beating or abuse at her hands. It seemed as though she could not live nor sleep unless some poor back was smarting, some head beating with pain, or some eye filled with tears, around her. Her tender mercies were indeed cruel. She brought up her children to imitate her example. Two of them manifested some dislike to the cruelties taught them by their mother, but they never stood high in favor with her; indeed, any thing like humanity or kindness to a slave, was looked upon by her as a great offence.

Her instruments of torture were ordinarily the raw hide, or a bunch of hickory-sprouts seasoned in the fire and tied together. But if these were not at hand, nothing came amiss. She could relish a beating with a chair, the broom, tongs, shovel, shears, knife-handle, the heavy heel of her slipper; her zeal was so active in these barbarous inflictions, that her invention was wonderfully quick, and some way of inflicting the requisite torture was soon found out.

One instrument of torture is worthy of particular description. This was an oak club, a foot and a half in length and an inch and a half square. With this delicate weapon she would beat us upon the hands and upon the feet until they were blistered. This instrument was carefully preserved for a period of four years. Every day, for that time, I was compelled to see that hated tool of cruelty lying in the chair by my side. The least degree of delinquency either in not doing all the appointed work, or in look or behavior, was visited with a beating from this oak club. That club will always be a prominent object in the picture of horrors of my life of more than twenty years of bitter bondage.

(8) William Wells Brown, Narrative of William W. Brown, A Fugitive Slave (1847)

Major Freeland was formerly from Virginia, and was a horse-racer, cock-fighter, gambler, and withal an inveterate drunkard. There were ten or twelve servants in the house, and when he was present, it was cut and slash - knock down and drag out. In his fits of anger, he would take up a chair, and throw it at a servant; and in his more rational moments, when he wished to chastise one, he would tie them up in the smoke-house, and whip them; after which, he would cause a fire to be made of tobacco stems, and smoke them. This he called "Virginia play."

I complained to my master of the treatment which I received from Major Freeland; but it made no difference. He cared nothing about it, so long as he received the money for my labor. After living with Major Freeland five or six months, I ran away, and went into the woods back of the city; and when night came on, I made my way to my master's farm, but was afraid to be seen, knowing that if Mr. Haskell, the overseer, should discover me, I should be again carried back to Major Freeland; so I kept in the woods. One day, while in the woods, I heard the barking and howling of dogs, and in a short time they came so near that I knew them to be the bloodhounds of Major Benjamin O'Fallon. He kept five or six, to hunt runaway slaves with.

As soon as I was convinced that it was them, I knew there was no chance of escape. I took refuge in the top of a tree, and the hounds were soon at its base, and there remained until the hunters came up in a half or three quarters of an hour afterwards. There were two men with the dogs, who, as soon as they came up, ordered me to descend. I came down, was tied, and taken to St. Louis jail. Major Freeland soon made his appearance, and took me out, and ordered me to follow him, which I did. After we returned home, I was tied up in the smoke-house, and was very severely whipped. After the major had flogged me to his satisfaction, he sent out his son Robert, a young man eighteen or twenty years of age, to see that I was well smoked. He made a fire of tobacco stems, which soon set me to coughing and sneezing. This, Robert told me, was the way his father used to do to his slaves in Virginia. After giving me what they conceived to be a decent smoking, I was untied and again set to work.

(9) Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)

There was a planter in the country, not far from us, who had six hundred slaves, many of whom he did not know by sight. His extensive plantation was managed by well-paid overseers. There was a jail and a whipping post on his grounds; and whatever cruelties were perpetrated there, they passed without comment. He was so effectively screened by his great wealth that he was called to no account for his crimes, not even for murder.

Various were the punishments resorted to. A favorite one was to tie a rope round a man's body, and suspend him from the ground. A fire was kindled over him, from which was suspended a piece of fat pork. As this cooked, the scalding drops of fat continually fell on the bare flesh. On his own plantation, he required very strict obedience to the eighth commandment. But depredations on the neighbors were allowable, provided the culprit managed to evade detection or suspicion. If a neighbor brought a charge of theft against any of his slaves, he was browbeaten by the master, who assured him that his slaves had enough of every thing at home, and had no inducement to steal. No sooner was the neighbor's back turned, than the accused was sought out, and whipped.

His brother, if not equal in wealth, was at least equal in cruelty. His bloodhounds were well trained. Their pen was spacious, and a terror to the slaves. They were let loose on a runaway, and, if they tracked him, they literally tore the flesh from his bones. When this slaveholder died, his shrieks and groans were so frightful that they appalled his own friends. His last words were, "I am going to hell; bury my money with me."

(10) Moses Roper made several attempts trying to escape from his master. He wrote about the punishment he received in Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper (1838)

Mr. Gooch then obtained the assistance of another slave-holder, and tied me up in his blacksmith's shop, and gave me fifty lashes with a cow-hide. He then put a long chain, weighing twenty-five pounds, round my neck, and sent me into a field, into which he followed me with the cow-hide, intending to set his slaves to flog me again.

He then chained me down in a log-pen with a 40 lb. chain, and made me lie on the damp earth all night. In the morning after his breakfast he came to me, and without giving me any breakfast, tied me to a large heavy barrow, which is usually drawn by a horse, and made me drag it to the cotton field for the horse to use in the field. Thus, the reader will see, that it was of no possible use to my master to make me drag it to the field, and not through it; his cruelty went so far as actually to make me the slave of his horse, and thus to degrade me.

Mr. Gooch had a female slave about eighteen years old, who also had been a domestic slave, and through not being able to fulfill her task, had run away; which slave he was at this time punishing for that offence. On the third day, he chained me to this female slave, with a large chain of 40 lbs. weight round the neck. It was most harrowing to my feelings thus to be chained to a young female slave, for whom I would rather have suffered a hundred lashes than she should have been thus treated. He kept me chained to her during the week, and repeatedly flogged us both while thus chained together, and forced us to keep up with the other slaves, although retarded by the heavy weight of the log-chain.

A large farmer, Colonel M'Quiller, in Cashaw County, South Carolina, was in the habit of driving nails into a hogshead so as to leave the point of the nail just protruding in the inside of the cask. Into this he used to put his slaves for punishment, and roll them down a very long and steep hill. I have heard from several slaves, though I had no means of ascertaining the truth of the statement, that in this way he killed six or seven of his slaves. This plan was first adopted by a Mr. Perry, who lived on the Catarba River, and has since been adopted by several planters.

(11) St. Louis Republican (15th September, 1844)

On Friday last the coroner held an inquest at the house of Judge Dunica, a few miles south of the city, over the body of a negro girl, about 8 years of age, belonging to Mr. Cordell. The body exhibited evidence of the most cruel whipping and beating we have ever heard of. The flesh on the back and limbs was beaten to a jelly -- one shoulder-bone was laid bare -- there were several cuts, apparently from a club, on the head -- and around the neck was the indentation of a cord, by which it is supposed she had been confined to a tree. She had been hired by a man by the name of Tanner, residing in the neighborhood, and was sent home in this condition. After coming home, her constant request, until her death, was for bread, by which it would seem that she had been starved as well as unmercifully whipped. The jury returned a verdict that she came to her death by the blows inflicted by some persons unknown whilst she was in the employ of Mr. Tanner. Mrs. Tanner has been tried and acquitted.

(12) New York Herald (19th October, 1844)

I yesterday visited the cell of Cornelia, the slave charged with being the accomplice of Mrs. Ann Tanner (recently acquitted) in the murder of a little negro girl, by whipping and starvation. She admits her participancy, but says she was compelled to take the part she did in the affair. On one occasion she says the child was tied to a tree from Monday morning till Friday night, exposed by day to the scorching rays of the sun, and by night to the stinging of myriads of mosquitoes; and that during all this time the child had nothing to eat, but was whipped daily. The child told the same story to Dr. McDowell.

(13) Austin Steward, Twenty-Two Years a Slave (1857)

The usual mode of punishing the poor slaves was, to make them take off their clothes to the bare back, and then tie their hands before them with a rope, pass the end of the rope over a beam, and draw them up till they stood on the tips of their toes. Sometimes they tied their legs together and placed a rail between. Thus prepared, the overseer proceeded to punish the poor, helpless victim. Thirty-nine was the number of lashes ordinarily inflicted for the most trifling offence. Who can imagine a position more painful? Oh, who, with feelings of common humanity, could look quietly on such torture? Who could remain unmoved, to see a fellow-creature thus tied, unable to move or to raise a hand in his own defence; scourged on his bare back, with a cowhide, until the blood flows in streams from his quivering flesh? And for what? Often for the most trifling fault; and, as sometimes occurs, because a mere whim or caprice of his brutal overseer demands it. Pale with passion, his eyes flashing and his stalwart frame trembling with rage, like some volcano, just ready to belch forth its fiery contents, and, in all its might and fury, spread death and destruction all around, he continues to wield the bloody lash on the broken flesh of the poor, pleading slave, until his arm grows weary, or he sinks down, utterly exhausted, on the very spot where already stand the pools of blood which his cruelty has drawn from the mangled body of his helpless victim.

Nor is this cruel punishment inflicted on the bare backs of the male portion of slaves only. Oh no! The slave husband must submit without a murmur, to see the form of his cherished, but wretched wife, not only exposed to the rude gaze of a beastly tyrant, but he must unresistingly see the heavy cowhide descend upon her shrinking flesh, and her manacled limbs writhe in inexpressible torture, while her piteous cries for help ring through his ears unanswered. The wild throbbing of his heart must be suppressed, and his righteous indignation find no voice, in the presence of the human monster who holds dominion over him.

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The slave-ship Brookes (1788)

Fig I lengthwise cross-section

Fig II breadthwise cross-section: men

Fig III breadthwise cross-section: women

Fig IV lower deck with platforms

Fig V lower deck without platforms

Fig VI half-deck with platforms

Fig VII half-deck with platforms

A lower deck

B lower deck: breath

C men's section

D platform: men's section

E boy's section

F platforms:

G women's section

H platforms: women's section

I gun room

K quarter deck

L cabin

M half-deck

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My United States history class has just passed this period and is bracing for the Civil War. (Always fun to teach in the South) I don't know that I could have gotten use out of the full body of that material, but I could have used a good piece of it.

We watch the movie Amistad every year before Xmas break.

John that slavery section on Spartacus is wonderful. I should have set my juniors in front of it with our modile computer lab a day or two.

Edited by Raymond Blair
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  • 3 weeks later...

John, as usual you have produced a fantastic resource, I honestly don't know where you find the time and the information! My one concern about this simulation is that many of my students would find the vast amount of information very intimidating. To quote them they would say ' This is long, sir'. If I can make a suggestion I would propose that you look again at the sources and produce a differentiated version with a section that is pared down to what you consider the absolute essentials - possibly no more han 2 sources representing the different views. If you guided the pupils through this then they would feel much more comfortable I am sure. Of course you will have all of the other material for those pupils who want to develop their knowledge further.

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  • 6 months later...

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