The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin Chapter III: Separation of Families.
by Harriet Beecher Stowe
"What must the difference be," said Dr. Worthington, with startling
energy, "between Isabel and her servants? To her
it is loss of position, fortune, the fair hopes of life, perhaps even health; for
she must inevitably break down under the unaccustomed labour and privations she
will have to undergo. But to them it is merely a change of masters!"
"Yes, for the neighbours won't allow any of the families to be separated."
"Of course not. We read of such things in novels sometimes. But I have
yet to see it in real life, except in rare cases, or where the slave has been
guilty of some misdemeanour, or crime, for which, in the North, he would have
been imprisoned, perhaps for life."
--Cabin and Parlour, by J. Thornton Randolph, p. 39.
"But they're going to sell us all to Georgia, I say. How are we to
"Spec dare some mistake in dat," replied Uncle Peter stoutly.
"I nebber knew of sich a ting in dese parts, 'cept where some niggar 'd been berry
By such graphic touches as the above does Mr.
Thornton Randolph represent to us the patriarchal stability and security of
the slave population in the Old Dominion. Such a thing as a slave being sold
out of the State has never been heard of by Dr. S. Worthington, except in
rare case for some crime; and old Uncle Peter never heard of such a thing
in his life.
BY such graphic touches as the above does Mr.
Thornton Randolph represent to us the patriarchal stability and security of
the slave population in the Old Dominion. Such a thing as a slave being sold
out of the State has never been heard of by Dr. S. Worthington, except in
rare case for some crime; and old Uncle Peter never heard of such a thing
in his life.
Are these representations true?
The worst abuse of the system of slavery is its outrage upon the family;
and, as the writer views the subject, it is one which is more notorious and
undeniable than any other.
Yet it is upon this point that the most stringent and earnest denial has
been made to the representations of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," either
indirectly, as by the romance-writer above, or more directly in the assertions
of newspapers, both at the North and at the South. When made at the North,
they indicate, to say the least, very great ignorance of the subject; when
made at the South, they certainly do very great injustice to the general character
of the Southerner for truth and honesty. All sections of country have faults
peculiar to themselves. The fault of the South, as a general
thing, has not been cowardly evasion and deception. It was with utter surprise
that the author read the following sentences in an article in Fraser's Magazine,
professing to come from a South Carolinian:--
Mrs. Stowe's favourite illustration of the master's power to the injury
of the slave is the separation of families. We are told of infants of ten
months old being sold from the arms of their mothers, and of men whose habit
it is to raise children, to sell away from their mother as soon as they are
old enough to be separated. Were our views of this feature of slavery derived
from Mrs. Stowe's book, we should regard the families of slaves as utterly
unsettled and vagrant.
We feel confident that, if statistics could be had to throw light upon
this subject, we should find that there is less separation of families among
the negroes than occurs with almost any other class of persons.
As the author of the article, however, is evidently a man of honour, and
expresses many most noble and praiseworthy sentiments, it cannot be supposed
that these statements were put forth with any view to misrepresent or to deceive.
They are only to be regarded as evidences of the facility with which a sanguine
mind often overlooks the most glaring facts that make against a favourite
idea or theory, or which are unfavourable in their bearings on one's own country
or family. Thus the citizens of some place notoriously unhealthy will come
to believe, and assert, with the utmost sincerity, that there is actually
less sickness in their town than any other of its size in the known world.
Thus parents often think their children perfectly immaculate in just those
particulars in which others see them to be most faulty. This solution of the
phenomena is a natural and amiable one, and enables us to retain our respect
for our Southern brethren.
There is another circumstance, also, to be taken into account, in reading
such assertions as these. It is evident, from the pamphlet in question, that
the writer is one of the few who regard the possession of absolute irresponsible
power as the highest of motives to moderation and temperance in its use. Such
men are commonly associated in friendship and family connexion with others
of similar views, and are very apt to fall into the error of judging others
by themselves, and thinking that a thing may do for all the world because
it operates well in their immediate circle. Also, it cannot but be a fact
that the various circumstances which from infancy conspire to degrade and
depress the negro in the eyes of a Southern-born man--the constant habit
of speaking of them, and hearing them spoken of, and seeing them
advertised, as mere articles of property, often in connexion with horses,
mules, fodder, swine, &c., as they are almost daily in every Southern
paper--must tend, even in the best-constituted minds, to produce a certain
obtuseness with regard to the interests, sufferings, and affections, of such
as do not particularly belong to himself, which will peculiarly unfit him
for estimating their condition. The author has often been singularly struck
with this fact, in the letters of Southern friends; in which, upon one page,
they will make some assertion regarding the condition of Southern negroes,
and then go on, and in other connexions state facts which apparently contradict
them all. We can all be aware how this familiarity would operate with ourselves.
Were we called upon to state how often our neighbours' cows were separated
from their calves, or how often their household furniture and other effects
are scattered and dispersed by executors' sales, we should be inclined to
say that it was not a misfortune of very common occurrence.
But let us open two South Carolina papers, published in the very State
where this gentleman is residing, and read the advertisements FOR ONE WEEK.
The author has slightly abridged them:--
COMMISSIONERS' SALE OF TWELVE LIKELY NEGROES. FAIRFIELD DISTRICT.
R. W. Murray and Wife and others v. William Wright
and Wife and others, In Equity.
In pursuance of an order of the Court of Equity made in the above case
at July Term, 1852, I will sell at public outcry," to the highest bidder,
before the Court House in Winnsboro', on the first Monday in January next,
TWELVE VERY LIKELY NEGROES.
belonging to the estate of Micajah Mobley, deceased, late of Fairfield
These negroes consist chiefly of young boys and girls, and are said to
be very likely.
Terms of Sale, &c.
W. R. ROBERTSON, C. E. F. D.
Commissioners' Office, Winnsboro', Nov. 30. 1852.
Dec. 2. 42 x4.
Will be sold at public outcry, to the highest bidder, on Tuesday, the 21st
day of December next, at the late residence of Mrs. M. P. Rabb, deceased,
all of the personal estate of said deceased, consisting in part of about--
2,000 Bushels of Corn.
25,000 Pounds of Fodder.
Horses, Mules, Cattle, Hogs, Sheep.
There will, in all probability, be sold at the same time and place several
likely Young Negroes.
The Terms of Sale will be--all sums under Twenty-five Dollars, Cash.
All sums of Twenty-five Dollars and over, twelve months' credit, with interest,
from day of Sale, secured by note and two approved securities.
WILLIAM S. RABB, Administrator.
Nov. 11. 39 x2.
COMMISSIONERS' SALE OF LAND AND NEGROES. FAIRFIELD DISTRICT.
James E. Caldwell, Administrator, with the Will annexed of
Jacob Gibson, deceased, v. Jason D. Gibson and Others,
In pursuance of the order of sale made in the above case, I will sell at
public outcry, to the highest bidder, before the Court House in Winnsboro',
on the first Monday in January next, and the day following, the following
real and personal estate of Jacob Gibson, deceased, late of Fairfield District,
The plantation on which the testator lived at the time of his death, containing
661 acres, more or less, lying on the waters of Wateree Creek, and bounded
by lands of Samuel Johnston, Theodore S. du Bose, Edward P. Mobley, B. R.
Cockrell. This plantation will be sold in two separate tracts, plats of which
will be exhibited on the day of sale:
FORTY-SIX PRIME LIKELY NEGROES,
Consisting of Waggoners, Blacksmiths, Cooks, House Servants, &c.
ESTATE SALE.--FIFTY PRIME NEGROES. BY J. & L. T. LEVIN.
On the first Monday in January next I will sell, before the Court House
in Columbia, 50 of as likely Negroes as have ever been exposed to public sale,
belonging to the estate of A. P. Vinson, deceased. The Negroes have been well
cared for, and well managed in every respect. Persons wishing to purchase
will not, it is confidently believed, have a better opportunity to supply
J. H. ADAMS, Executor.
Nov. 18. 40 x3
Will be sold on the 15th December next, at the late residence of Samuel
Moore, deceased, in York District, all the personal property of said deceased,
THIRTY-FIVE LIKELY NEGROES;
a quantity of Cotton and Corn, Horses and Mules, Farming Tools, Household
and Kitchen Furniture, with many other articles.
SAMUEL E. MOORE, Administrator.
Nov. 18. 40 x4t
Will be sold at public outcry to the highest bidder, on Tuesday, the 14th
day of December next, at the late residence of Robert W. Durham, deceased,
in Fairfield District, all of the personal estate of said deceased; consisting
in part as follows:
By virtue of sundry executions to me directed, I will sell at Fairfield
Court House, on the first Monday, and the day following, in December next,
within the legal hours of sale, to the highest bidder, for cash, the following
property. Purchasers to pay for titles.
2 NEGROES, levied upon as the property of Allen
R. Crankfield, at the suit of Alexander Brodie, et al.
2 Horses and 1 Jennet, levied upon as the property of Allen R. Crankfield,
at the suit of Alexander Brodie.
2 Mules, levied upon as the property of Allen R. Crankfield, at the suit
of Temperance E. Miller and J. W. Miller.
1 pair of Cart Wheels, levied upon as the property of Allen R. Crankfield,
at the suit of Temperance E. Miller and J. W. Miller.
1 Chest of Drawers, levied upon as the property of Allen R. Crankfield,
at the suit of Temperance E. Miller and J. W. Miller.
1 Bedstead, levied upon as the property of Allen R. Crankfield, at the
suit of Temperance E. Miller and J. W. Miller.
1 NEGRO, levied upon as the property of R. J. Gladney,
at the suit of James Camak.
1 NEGRO, levied upon as the property of Geo. McCormick,
at the suit of W. M. Phifer.
1 Riding Saddle, to be sold under an assignment of G. W. Boulware to J.
B. Mickle, in the case of Geo. Murphy, Jr., v. G.
R. E. ELLISON, S. F. D.
Sheriff's Office, Nov. 19, 1852. Nov.
John A Crumpton and others v. Zachariah C. Crumpton.
In pursuance of the Decretal order made in this case, I will sell at public
outcry to the highest bidder before the Court House door in Winnsboro', on
the first Monday in December next, three separate tracts or parcels of land,
belonging to the estate of Zachariah Crumpton, deceased.
I will also sell, at the same time and place, FIVE OR
SIX LIKELY YOUNG NEGROES, sold as the property of the said Zachariah
Crumpton, deceased, by virtue of the authority aforesaid.
The undersigned, as Administrator of the Estate of Col. T. Randell, deceased,
will sell, on Monday, the 20th December next, all the personal property belonging
to said estate, consisting of
56 NEGROES, STOCK, CORN, FODDER, ETC. ETC..
Terms of Sale, &c. &c.
SAMUEL J. RANDELL.
Sept. 2. 29 x16
The Tri-Weekly South Carolinian, published at Columbia,
S. C., has this motto:--
"BE JUST AND FEAR NOT; LET ALL THE END THOU AIM'ST
AT BE THY COUNTRY'S, THY GOD'S, AND TRUTH'S."
In the number dated December 23, 1852, is found a "Reply of the Women
of Virginia to the Women of England," containing this sentiment:--
Believe us, we deeply, prayerfully, study God's Holy Word; we are fully
persuaded that our institutions are in accordance with it.
After which, in other columns, come the ten advertisements following:--
SHERIFF'S SALES FOR JANUARY 2, 1853.
By virtue of sundry writs of fieri facias, to me
directed, will be sold before the Court House in Columbia, within the legal
hours, on the first Monday and Tuesday in January next--
Seventy-four acres of Land, more or less, in Richland District, bounded
on the north and east by Lorick's and on the south and west by Thomas Trapp.
Also, Ten Head of Cattle, Twenty-five Head of Hogs, and Two Hundred
Bushels of Corn, levied on as the property of M. A. Wilson, at the
suit of Samuel Gardner v M. A. Wilson.
SEVEN NEGROES, named Grace, Frances, Edmund, Charlotte,
Emuline, Thomas, and Charles, levied on as the property of Bartholomew Turnipseed,
at the suit of A. F. Dubard, J. S. Lever, Bank of the State and others v. B. Turnipseed.
450 acres of Land, more or less, in Richland District, bounded on the north,&
LARGE SALE OF REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY.--ESTATE SALE.
On Monday, the (7th) seventh day of February next, I will sell at Auction,
without reserve, at the Plantation, near Linden, all the Horses, Mules, Waggons,
Farming Utensils, Corn, Fodder, &c.
And on the following Monday (14th), the fourteenth day of February next,
at the Court House, at Linden, in Marengo County, Alabama, I will sell at
public auction, without reserve, to the highest bidder,
ONE HUNDRED AND TEN PRIME AND LIKELY NEGROES,
belonging to the Estate of the late John Robinson, of South Carolina.
Among the negroes are four valuable Carpenters and a very superior Blacksmith.
NEGROES FOR SALE.
By permission of Peter Wylie, Esq., Ordinary for Chester District, I will
sell, at public auction, before the Court House, in Chesterville, on the first
Monday in February next,
FORTY LIKELY NEGROES,
belonging to the Estate of F. W. Davie.
W. D. DE SAUSSURE, Executor.
Dec. 23. 56 †tds.
ESTATE SALE OF FURNITURE, &c., BY J. & L. T. LEVIN.
Will be sold, at our Store, on Thursday, the 6th day of January next, all
the Household and Kitchen Furniture belonging to the Estate of B. L. McLaughlin,
deceased, consisting in part of
Hair-seat Chairs, Sofas, and Rockers, Piano--Mahogany, Dining, Tea,
and Card-Tables; Carpets, Rugs, Andirons, Fenders, Shovel and Tongs, Mantel
Ornaments, Clocks, Side Board, Bureaus, Mahogany Bedsteads, Feather Beds and
Mattresses, Wash Stands, Curtains, fine Cordial Stand, Glassware, Crockery,
and a great variety of articles for family use.
A NEGRO MAN, named Leonard, belonging to same.
At same time, a quantity of New Brick, belonging to Estate of A. S. Johnstone,
Dec. 21. 53 ‡tds.
GREAT SALE OF NEGROES AND THE SALUDA FACTORY, BY J. & L. T.
On Thursday, December 30, at 11 o'clock, will be sold at the Court House
ONE HUNDRED VALUABLE NEGROES.
It is seldom such an opportunity occurs as now offers. Among them are only
four beyond 45 years old, and none above 50. There are twenty-five prime young
men, between 16 and 30; forty of the most likely young women, and as fine
a set of children as can be shown!!
Terms, &c. Dec. 18, '52.
NEGROES AT AUCTION.--BY J. & L. T. LEVIN.
Will be sold, on Monday, the 3rd January next, at the Court House at 10
22 LIKELY NEGROES, the larger number of which are
young and desirable. Among them are Field Hands, Hostlers, and Carriage Drivers,
House Servants, &c., and of the following ages: Robinson 40, Elsey 34,
Yanky 13, Sylla 11, Anikee 8, Robinson 6, Candy 3, Infant 9, Thomas 35, Die
38, Amey 18, Eldridge 13, Charles 6, Sarah 60, Baket 50, Mary 18, Betty 16,
Guy 12, Tilla 9, Lydia 24, Rachel 4, SCIPIO 2.
The above negroes are sold for the purpose of making some other investment
of the proceeds; the sale, will, therefore, be positive.
Terms.--A credit of one, two, and three years, for notes payable at
either of the Banks, with two or more approved endorsers, with interest from
date. Purchasers to pay for papers.
Dec. 8, '43.
* Black River Watchman will copy the above, and
forward bill to the auctioneers for payment.
Poor little Scip!
LIKELY AND VALUABLE GIRL AT PRIVATE SALE.
A LIKELY GIRL, about seventeen years old (raised
in the up-country), a good Nurse and House Servant, can wash and iron, and
do plain cooking, and is warranted sound and healthy. She may be seen at our
office, where she will remain until sold.
ALLEN & PHILLIPS, Auctioneers
and Com. Agents.
Dec. 15, '49.
PLANTATION AND NEGROES FOR SALE.
The subscriber, having located in Columbia, offers for sale his Plantation
in St. Matthew's Parish, six miles from the Railroad, containing 1,500 acres,
now in a high state of cultivation, with Dwelling House and all necessary
50 LIKELY NEGROES, with provisions, &c.
The terms will be accommodating. Persons desirous to purchase can call
upon the subscriber in Columbia, or on his son at the Plantation.
T. J. GOODWYN.
Dec. 6, '41.
A LIKELY NEGRO BOY, about twenty-one years old,
a good waggoner and field hand. Apply at this office.
Dec. 20, '52.
Now, it is scarcely possible that a person who has been accustomed to see
such advertisements from boyhood, and to pass them over with as much indifference
as we pass over advertisements of sofas and chairs for sale, could possibly
receive the shock from them which one wholly unaccustomed to such a mode of
considering and disposing of human beings would receive. They make no impression
upon him. His own family servants, and those of his friends, are not in the
market, and he does not realise that any are. Under the advertisements, a
hundred such scenes as those described in "Uncle Tom" may have
been acting in his very vicinity. When Mr. Dickens drew pictures of the want
and wretchedness of London life, perhaps a similar incredulity might have
been expressed within the silken curtains of many a brilliant parlour.
They had never seen such things, and they had always lived
in London. But, for all that, the writings of Dickens awoke in noble and aristocratic
bosoms the sense of a common humanity with the lowly, and led them to feel
how much misery might exist in their immediate vicinity, of which they were
entirely unaware. They have never accused him as a libeller of his country,
though he did make manifest much of the suffering, sorrow, and abuse which
were in it. The author is led earnestly to entreat that the writer of this
very paper would examine the "statistics"
of the American internal slave-trade; that he would look over the exchange
files of some newspaper, and for a month or two, endeavour to keep some inventory
of the number of human beings, with hearts, hopes, and affections like his
own, who are constantly subjected to all the uncertainties and mutations of
property relation. The writer is sure that he could not do it long without
a generous desire being excited in his bosom to become, not an apologist for,
but a reformer of, these institutions of his country.
These papers of South Carolina are not exceptional ones; they may be matched
by hundreds of papers from any other State.
Let the reader now stop one minute, and look over again these two weeks'
advertisements. This is not novel-writing-- this
is fact. See these human beings tumbled promiscuously out before the public
with horses, mules, second-hand buggies, cotton-seed, bedsteads, &c.,&
c.; and Christian ladies, in the same newspaper, saying that they prayerfully
study God's word, and believe their institutions have his
sanction! Does he suppose that here, in these two weeks, there have been no
scenes of suffering?--Imagine the distress of these families--the
nights of anxiety of these mothers and children, wives, and husbands, when
these sales are about to take place! Imagine the scenes of the sales! A young
lady, a friend of the writer, who spent a winter in Carolina, described to
her the sale of a woman and her children. When the little girl, seven years
of age, was put on the block, she fell into spasms with fear and excitement.
She was taken off--recovered and put back--the spasms came back --three
times the experiment was tried, and at last the sale of the child was deferred!
See also the following, from Dr. Elwood Harvey, editor of a western paper,
to the Pennsylvania Freeman, Dec. 25, 1846:--
We attended a sale of land and other property, near Petersburg, Virginia,
and unexpectedly saw slaves sold at public auction. The slaves were told they
would not be sold, and were collected in front of the quarters, gazing on
the assembled multitude. The land being sold, the auctioneer's loud voice
was heard, "Bring up the niggers!" A shade of astonishment and
affright passed over their faces, as they stared first at each other, and
then at the crowd of purchasers, whose attention was now directed to them.
When the horrible truth was revealed to their minds that they were to be sold,
and nearest relations and friends parted for ever, the effect was indescribably
agonizing. Women snatched up their babes, and ran screaming into the huts.
Children hid behind the huts and trees, and the men stood in mute despair.
The auctioneer stood on the portico of the house, and the "men and boys"
were ranging in the yard for inspection. It was announced that no warranty
of soundness was given, and purchasers must examine
for themselves. A few old men were sold at prices from thirteen to twenty-five
dollars, and it was painful to see old men, bowed with years of toil and suffering,
stand up to be the jest of brutal tyrants and to hear them tell their disease
and worthlessness, fearing that they would be bought by traders for the Southern
A white boy, about fifteen years old, was placed on the stand. His hair
was brown and straight, his skin exactly the same hue as other white persons,
and no discernible trace of negro features in his countenance.
Some vulgar jests were passed on his colour, and two hundred dollars were
bid for him; but the audience said "that it was not enough to begin
on for such a likely young nigger." Several remarked that they "would
not have him as a gift." Some said a white nigger was more trouble than
he was worth. One man said it was wrong to sell white
people. I asked him if it was more wrong than to sell black people. He made
no reply. Before he was sold, his mother rushed from the house upon the portico,
crying, in frantic grief, "My son! Oh, my boy! They will take away my
dear--." Here her voice was lost, as she was rudely pushed back,
and the door closed. The sale was not for a moment interrupted, and none of
the crowd appeared to be in the least affected by the scene. The poor boy,
afraid to cry before so many strangers, who showed no signs of sympathy or
pity, trembled, and wiped the tears from his cheeks with his sleeves. He was
sold for about two hundred and fifty dollars. During the sale, the quarters
resounded with cries and lamentations that made my heart ache.
A woman was next called by name. She gave her infant one wild embrace before
leaving it with an old woman, and hastened mechanically to obey the call;
but stopped, threw her arms aloft, screamed, and was unable to move.
One of my companions touched my shoulder and said, "Come, let us
leave here; I can bear no more." We left the ground. The man who drove
our carriage from Petersburg had two sons who belonged to the estate--small
boys. He obtained a promise that they should not be sold. He was asked if
they were his only children; he answered, "All that's left of eight."
Three others had been sold to the South, and he would never see or hear from
As Northern people do not see such things, they should hear of them often
enough to keep them awake to the sufferings of the victims of their indifference.
Such are the common incidents, not the admitted cruelties,
of an institution which people have brought themselves
to feel is in accordance with God's word!
Suppose it be conceded now that "the family relation is protected, as
far as possible." The question still arises, How far is it possible?
Advertisements of sales to the
number of those we have quoted, more or less, appear from week to week in
the same papers, in the same neighbourhood; and professional traders make
it their business to attend them, and buy up victims. Now, if the inhabitants
of a given neighbourhood charge themselves with the care to see that no families
are separated in this whirl of auctioneering, one would fancy that they could
have very little else to do. It is a fact, and a most
honourable one to our common human nature, that the distress and anguish of
these poor helpless creatures does often raise up for them friends among the
generous-hearted. Southern men often go to the extent of their means, and
beyond their means, to arrest the cruel operations of trade, and relieve cases
of individual distress. There are men at the South who could tell, if they
would, how, when they have spent the last dollar that they thought they could
afford on one week, they have been importuned by precisely such a case the
next, and been unable to meet it. There are masters at the South who could
tell, if they would, how they have stood and bid against a trader, to redeem
some poor slave of their own, till the bidding was perfectly ruinous, and
they have been obliged to give up by sheer necessity. Good-natured auctioneers
know very well how they have often been entreated to connive at keeping a
poor fellow out of the trader's clutches; and how sometimes they succeed,
and sometimes they do not.
The very struggle and effort which generous Southern men make to stop the
regular course of trade only shows them the hopelessness of
the effort. We fully concede that many of them do as much or more than any
of us would do under similar circumstances; and yet they
know that what they do amounts, after all, to the merest trifle.
But let us still further reason upon the testimony of advertisements. What
is to be understood by the following, of the Memphis Eagle
and Inquirer, Saturday, Nov. 13, 1852 Under the editorial motto, "Liberty
and Union, now and for ever," come the following
No. I. SEVENTY-FIVE NEGROES.
I have just received from the East 75 assorted A No. 1 negroes. Call soon,
if you want to get the first choice.
No. II. CASH FOR NEGROES.
I will pay as high cash prices for a few likely young negroes as any trader
in this city. Also, will receive and sell on commission at Byrd Hill's old
stand, on Adams-street, Memphis.
No. III. FIVE HUNDRED NEGROES WANTED.
We will pay the highest cash price for all good negroes offered. We invite
all those having negroes for sale to call on us at our mart, opposite the
lower steam-boat landing. We will also have a large lot of Virginia negroes
for sale in the fall. We have as safe a jail as any in the country, where
we can keep negroes safe for those that wish them kept.
BOLTON, DICKINS, & CO.
Under the head of Advertisement No. 1, let us humbly inquire what "assorted
A No. 1 Negroes"
means. Is it likely that it means negroes sold in families? What is meant
by the invitation, "Call soon if you want to get
the first choice?"
So much for Advertisement No. 1. Let us now propound a few questions to
the initiated on No. 2. What does Mr. Benjamin Little mean by saying that
he "will pay as high a cash price for a few likely
young negroes as any trader in the city?" Do families commonly
consist exclusively of "likely
On the third advertisement we are also desirous of some information. Messrs.
BOLTON, DICKINS, & CO. state that they expect to
receive a large lot of Virginian negroes in the fall.
Unfortunate Messrs. Bolton, Dickins, & Co.! Do you suppose that Virginia
families will sell their negroes? Have you read Mr. J. Thornton
Randolph's last novel, and have you not learned that old Virginia families
never sell to traders? and, more than that, that they always
club together and buy up the negroes that are for
sale in their neighbourhood, and the traders when they appear on the ground
are hustled off with very little ceremony? One would really think that you
had got your impressions on the subject from "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
For we are told that all who derive their views of slavery from this book
"regard the families of slaves as utterly unsettled and vagrant."
But before we recover from our astonishment on reading this, we take up
the Natchez (Mississippi) Courier of Nov. 20th, 1852, and there read:
The undersigned would respectfully state to the public that he has leased
the stand in the Forks of the Road, near Natchez, for a term of years, and
that he intends to keep a large lot of NEGROES on hand during the year. He
will sell as low or lower than any other trader at this place or in New Orleans.
He has just arrived from Virginia with a very likely lot of Field Men and
Women; also, House Servants, three Cooks, and a Carpenter. Call and see.
A fine Buggy Horse, a Saddle Horse, and a Carryall, on hand, and for sale.
THOMAS G. JAMES.
Natchez, Sept. 28, 1852.
Where in the world did this lucky Mr. THOS. G. JAMES get this likely Virginia
"assortment?" Probably in some
county which Mr. Thornton Randolph never visited. And had no families been
separated to form the assortment? We hear of a lot of field men and women.
Where are their children? We hear of a lot of house-servants--of "three
cooks," and "one carpenter," as well as a "fine buggy
horse." Had these unfortunate cooks and carpenters no relations? Did
no sad natural tears stream down their dark cheeks when they were being "assorted"
for the Natchez market? Does no mournful heart among them yearn to the song
Oh, carry me back to old Virginny?
Still further, we see in the same paper the following:
SLAVES! SLAVES! SLAVES!
FRESH ARRIVALS WEEKLY.--Having established
ourselves at the Forks of the Road, near Natchez, for a term of years, we
have now on hand, and intend to keep throughout the entire year,
a large and well-selected stock of Negroes, consisting of field-hands, house-servants,
mechanics, cooks, seamstresses, washers, ironers, &c., which we can and
will sell as low or lower than any other house here or in New Orleans.
Persons wishing to purchase would do well to call on us before making purchases
elsewhere, as our regular arrivals will keep us supplied with a good and general
assortment. Our terms are liberal. Give us a call.
GRIFFIN & PULLAM.
Natchez, Oct. 15, 1852.--6m. "Free Trader
and Concordia Intelligencer" copy as above.
Indeed! Messrs. Griffin and Pullam, it seems, are equally fortunate! They
are having fresh supplies weekly, and are going to keep a large, well-selected
stock constantly on hand, to wit, "field-hands, house-servants, mechanics,
cooks, seamstresses, washers, ironers, etc."
Let us respectfully inquire what is the process by which a trader acquires
a well-selected stock. He goes to Virginia to select.
He has had orders, say, for one dozen cooks, for half a dozen carpenters,
for so many house-servants, &c. &c. Each one of these individuals
have their own ties; besides being cooks, carpenters, and house-servants,
they are also fathers, mothers, husbands, wives; but what of that? They must
be selected--it is an assortment that is wanted. The gentleman who
has ordered a cook does not, of course,
want her five children; and the planter who has ordered a carpenter does not
want the cook, his wife. A carpenter is an expensive article, at any rate,
as they cost from a thousand to fifteen hundred dollars; and a man who has
to pay out this sum for him cannot always afford himself the luxury of indulging
his humanity; and as to the children, they must be left in the slave-raising
State. For when the ready-raised article is imported weekly into Natchez
or New Orleans, is it likely that the inhabitants will
encumber themselves with the labour of raising children? No; there must be
division of labour in all well ordered business. The Northern slave States
raise the article, and the Southern ones consume it.
The extracts have been taken from the papers of the more Southern States.
If, now, the reader has any curiosity to explore the selecting process in
the Northern States, the daily prints will further enlighten
him. In the Daily Virginian of November 19th, 1852,
Mr. J. B. McLendon thus announces to the Old Dominion that he has settled
himself down to attend to the selecting process:
The subscriber, having located in Lynchburg, is giving the highest cash
prices for negroes between the ages of 10 and 30 years. Those having negroes
for sale may find it to their interest to call on him at the Washington Hotel,
Lynchburg, or address him by letter.
All communications will receive prompt attention.
Nov. 5.--dly. J. B. MC LENDON.
Mr. McLendon distinctly announces that he is not going to take any children
under ten of years age, nor any grown people over thirty. Likely young negroes
are what he is after:-- families, of course, never
Again, in the same paper, Mr. Seth Woodroof is desirous of keeping up the
recollection in the community that he also is in the market, as it would appear
he has been some time past. He, likewise, wants negroes between ten and thirty
years of age; but his views turn rather on mechanics, blacksmiths, and carpenters--witness
The subscriber continues in market for Negroes, of both sexes, between
the ages of 10 and 30 years, including Mechanics, such as Blacksmiths, Carpenters,
and will pay the highest market prices in cash. His office is a newly-erected
brick building on 1st or Lynch-street, immediately in rear of the Farmers'
Bank, where he is prepared (having erected buildings with that view) to board
negroes sent to Lynchburg for sale, or otherwise, on as moderate terms, and
keep them as secure, as if they were placed in the jail of the Corporation.
Aug. 26. SETH WOODROOF.
There is no manner of doubt that this Mr. Seth Woodroof is a gentleman
of humanity, and wishes to avoid the separation of families as much as possible.
Doubtless he ardently wishes that all his blacksmiths
and carpenters would be considerate, and never have any children under ten
years of age; but, if the thoughtless dogs have got them, what's a humane
man to do? He has to fill out Mr. This, That, and the Other's order --that's
a clear case; and therefore John and Sam must take their last look at their
babies, as Uncle Tom did of his when he stood by the rough trundle bed and
dropped into it great, useless tears.
Nay, my friends, don't curse poor Mr. Seth Woodroof, because he does the
horrible, loathsome work of tearing up the living human heart, to make twine
and shoe-strings for you! It's disagreeable business enough, he will tell
you, sometimes; and, if you must have him to do it for you,
treat him civilly, and don't pretend that you are any better than he.
But the good trade is not confined to the Old Dominion, by any means. See
the following extract from a Tennessee paper, the Nashville
Gazette, November 23rd, 1852, where Mr. A. A. McLean, general agent in
this kind of business, thus makes known his wants and intentions:
I want to purchase immediately twenty-five likely NEGROES--male and
female--between the ages of 15 and 25 years; for which I will pay the
highest price in cash.
A. A. MC LEAN, General Agent, Cherry
Mr. McLean, it seems, only wants those between the ages of fifteen and
twenty-five. This advertisement is twice repeated in the same paper, from
which fact we may conjecture that the gentleman is very much in earnest in
his wants, and entertains rather confident expectations that somebody will
be willing to sell. Further, the same gentleman states another want.
I want to purchase, immediately, a Negro man, Carpenter, and will give
a good price.
Sept. 29. A. A. MC LEAN,
Mr. McLean does not advertise for his wife and children, or where this
same carpenter is to be sent--whether to the New Orleans market, or up
the Red River, or off to some far bayou of the Mississippi, never to look
upon wife or child again. But, again, Mr. McLean in the same paper tells us
of another want:
A Wet Nurse. Any price will be given for one of good character, constitution,&
c. Apply to
A. A. MC LEAN, Gen'l Agent.
And what is to be done with the baby of this wet nurse? Perhaps, at the
moment that Mr. McLean is advertising for her, she is hushing the little thing
in her bosom, and thinking, as many another mother has done, that it is about
the brightest, prettiest little baby that ever was born; for, singularly enough,
even black mothers do fall into this delusion sometimes. No matter for all
this--she is wanted for a wet nurse! Aunt Prue can take her baby, and raise
it on corn-cake, and what not. Off with her to Mr. McLean!
See, also, the following advertisement of the good State of
Alabama, which shows how the trade is thriving there. Mr. S. N. Brown, in
the Advertiser and Gazette,
Montgomery, Alabama, holds forth as follows:
NEGROES FOR SALE.
S. N. BROWN takes this method of informing his
old patrons, and others waiting to purchase Slaves, that he has now on hand,
of his own selection and purchasing, a lot of likely young Negroes,
consisting of Men, Boys, and Women, Field Hands, and superior
House Servants, which he offers and will sell as low as the times will warrant.
Office on Market-street, above the Montgomery Hall, at Lindsay's Old Stand,
where he intends to keep slaves for sale on his own account, and not on commission;
therefore thinks he can give satisfaction to those who patronized him.
Montgomery, Ala., Sept. 13, 1852. twtf (J.)
Where were these boys and girls of Mr. Brown selected? let us
ask. How did their fathers and mothers feel when they were "selected?"
Emmeline was taken out of one family,
and George out of another. The judicious trader has travelled through wide
regions of country, leaving in his track wailing and anguish. A little incident,
which has recently been the rounds of the papers, may perhaps illustrate some
of the scenes he has occasioned:
INCIDENT OF SLAVERY.
A negro woman belonging to Geo. M. Garrison, of Polk Co., killed four of
her children, by cutting their throats while they were asleep, on Thursday
night, the 2nd instant, and then put an end to her own existence by cutting
her throat. Her master knows of no cause for the horrid act, unless it be
that she heard him speak of selling her and two of her children, and keeping
The uncertainty of the master in this case is edifying. He knows that negroes
cannot be expected to have the feelings of cultivated people; and yet, here
is a case where the creature really acts unaccountably, and he can't think
of any cause except that he was going to sell her from her children.
But, compose yourself, dear reader; there was no great harm done. These
were all poor people's children, and some of them,
though not all, were black; and that makes all the difference in the world,
But Mr. Brown is not alone in Montgomery. Mr. J. W. Lindsey wishes to remind
the people of his depot.
ONE HUNDRED NEGROES FOR SALE,
At my depot, on Commerce-street, immediately between the Exchange Hotel
and F. M. Gilmer, Jr.'s Warehouse, where I will be receiving, from time to
time, large lots of Negroes during the season, and will sell on as accommodating
terms as any house in this city. I would respectfully request my old customers
and friends to call and examine my stock.
Montgomery, Nov. 2, 1852. JNO. W. LINDSEY.
Mr. Lindsey is going to be receiving, from time to time, all the season,
and will sell as cheap as anybody; so there's no fear of the supply falling
off. And, lo! in the same paper, Messrs. Sanders & Foster press their
claims also on the public notice.
NEGROES FOR SALE.
The undersigned have bought out the well-known establishment of Eckles
and Brown, where they have now on hand a large lot of likely young Negroes,
to wit: Men, Women, Boys and Girls, good field-hands. Also, several good House
Servants and Mechanics of all kinds. The Subscribers intend to keep constantly
on hand a large assortment of Negroes, comprising every description. Persons
wishing to purchase will find it much to their interest to call and examine
previous to buying elsewhere.
April 13. SANDERS & FOSTER.
Messrs. Sanders & Foster are going to have an assortment also. All
their negroes are to be young and likely; the trashy old fathers
and mothers are all thrown aside like a heap of pigweed, after one has been
weeding a garden.
Query: Are these Messrs. Sanders & Foster, and J. W. Lindsey, and S.
N. Brown, and McLean, and Woodroof, and McLendon, all members of the church,
in good and regular standing? Does the question shock you? Why so? Why should
they not be? The Rev. Dr. Smylie, of Mississippi, in a document endorsed by
two Presbyteries, says distinctly that the Bible gives a right to buy and
If the Bible guarantees this right, and sanctions this trade, why should
it shock you to see the slave-trader at the communion-table? Do you feel that
there is blood on his hands-- the blood of human hearts, which he has
torn asunder? Do you shudder when he touches the communion-bread, and when
he drinks the cup which "whosoever drinketh unworthily drinketh damnation
to himself?" But who makes the trade? Do not you? Do you think that
the trader's profession is a healthy one for the soul? Do you think the scenes
with which he must be familiar, and the deeds he must do, in order to keep
up an assortment of negroes for your convenience,
are such things as Jesus Christ approves? Do you think they tend to promote
his growth in grace, and to secure his soul's salvation? Or is it
so important for you to have assorted negroes that
the traders must not only be turned out of good society in this life, but
run the risk of going to hell for ever, for your accommodation?
But let us search the Southern papers, and see if we cannot find some evidence
of that humanity which avoids the separation of families, as far as possible.
In the Argus, published at
Weston, Missouri, Nov. 5, 1852, see the following:
A NEGRO FOR SALE.
I wish to sell a black girl, about 24 years old, a good cook and washer,
handy with a needle, can spin and weave. I wish to sell her in the neighbourhood
of Camden Point; if not sold there in a short time, I will hunt the best market;
or I will trade her for two small ones, a boy and girl.
Considerate Mr. Doyal! He is opposed to the separation of families, and,
therefore, wishes to sell this woman in the neighbourhood of Camden Point,
where her family ties are--perhaps her husband and children, her brothers
or sisters. He will not separate her from her family if it is possible to
avoid it; that is to say, if he can get as much for her without; but, if he
can't, he will "hunt the best market."
What more would you have of Mr. Doyal?
How speeds the blessed trade in the State of Maryland?-- Let us take
the Baltimore Sun of Nov. 23, 1852.
Mr. J. S. Donovan thus advertises the Christian public of the accommodations
of his jail:
CASH FOR NEGROES.
The undersigned continues, at his old stand, No. 13, CAMDEN ST., to pay the highest price for NEGROES.
Persons bringing Negroes by railroad or steamboat will find it very convenient
to secure their Negroes, as my Jail is adjoining the Railroad Depot and near
the Steamboat Landings. Negroes received for safe keeping.
J. S. DONOVAN.
Messrs. B. M. and W. L. Campbell, in the respectable old stand of Slatter,
advertise as follows:--
We are at all times purchasing SLAVES, paying the
highest cash prices. Persons wishing to sell will
please call at 242, Pratt St. (Slatter's old stand.)
Communications attended to.
B. M. & W. L. CAMPBELL.
In another column, however, Mr. John Denning has his season advertisement,
in terms which border on the sublime:
FIVE THOUSAND NEGROES WANTED.
I will pay the highest prices, in cash, for 5000 NEGROES, with good titles, slaves for life or for a term of years, in large
or small families, or single negroes. I will also purchase
negroes restricted to remain in the State, that sustain good characters. Families
never separated. Persons having Slaves for sale will please call and see me,
as I am always in the market with the cash. Communications promptly attended
to, and liberal commissions paid, by JOHN N. DENNING, No. 18, S. Frederick-street,
between Baltimore and Second streets,
Baltimore, Maryland. Trees in front of the house.
Mr. John Denning, also, is a man of humanity. He never separates families.
Don't you see it in his advertisement? If a man offers him a wife without
her husband, Mr. John Denning won't buy her. Oh, no! His five thousand are
all unbroken families; he never takes any other; and he transports them whole
and entire. This is a comfort to reflect upon, certainly.
See, also, the Democrat, published in Cambridge,
Maryland, Dec. 8, 1852. A gentleman thus proclaims to the slaveholders of
Dorchester and adjacent counties that he is again in the market.
I wish to inform the slaveholders of Dorchester and the adjacent counties
that I am again in the Market. Persons having negroes that are slaves for
life to dispose of will find it to their interest to see me before they sell,
as I am determined to pay the highest prices in cash that the Southern market
will justify. I can be found at A. Hall's Hotel in Easton, where I will remain
until the first day of July next. Communications addressed to me at Easton,
or information given to Wm. Bell in Cambridge, will meet with prompt attention.
Mr. Harker is very accommodating. He keeps himself informed as to the state
of the Southern market, and will give the very highest price that it will
justify. Moreover, he will be on hand till July, and will answer any letters
from the adjoining county on the subject. On one point he ought to be spoken
to. He has not advertised that he does not separate families. It is a mere
matter of taste, to be sure; but then, some well-disposed people like to see
it on a trader's card, thinking it has a more creditable appearance; and,
probably, Mr. Harker, if he reflects a little, will put it in next time. It
takes up very little room, and makes a good appearance.
We are occasionally reminded, by the advertisements for runaways, to how
small an extent it is found possible to avoid the
separation of families; as in the Richmond Whig of
Nov. 5, 1852.
TEN DOLLARS REWARD.
We are requested by Henry P. Davis to offer a reward of 10
dollars for the apprehension of a negro man named HENRY, who ran away from
the said Davis' farm near Petersburg,
on Thursday, the 27th October. Said slave came from near Lynchburg, Va., purchased
of--Cock, and has a wife in Halifax county, Va. He has recently been
employed on the South Side Railroad. He may be in the neighbourhood of his
PULLIAM & DAVIS, Aucts., Richmond.
It seems to strike the advertiser as possible that
Henry may be in the neighbourhood of his wife. We should not at all wonder
if he were.
The reader by this time is in possession of some of those statistics of
which the South Carolinian speaks when he says:--
We feel confident, if statistics could be had to throw light upon the subject,
we should find that there is less separation of families among the negroes
than occurs with almost any other class of persons.
In order to give some little further idea of the extent to which this kind
of property is continually changing hands, see the following calculation,
which has been made from sixty-four Southern newspapers, taken very much at
random. The papers were all published in the last two weeks of the month of
The negroes are advertised sometimes by name, sometimes in definite numbers,
and sometimes in "lots," "assortments," and other
indefinite terms. We present the result of this estimate, far as it must fall
from a fair representation of the facts, in a tabular form.
Here is recorded, in only eleven papers, the sale
of eight hundred and forty-nine slaves in two weeks
in Virginia; the State where Mr. J. Thornton Randolph describes such an event
as a separation of families being a thing that "we read of in novels sometimes."
States where Published.
Number of Papers consulted.
Number of Negroes advertised.
Number of lots.
Number of Runaways described.
In South Carolina, where the writer in Fraser's Magazine dates from,
we have during these same two weeks a sale of eight hundred and fifty-two recorded
by one dozen papers. Verily, we must
apply to the newspapers of his State the same language which he applies to
"Uncle Tom's Cabin:" "Were our views of the system of slavery
to be derived from these papers, we should regard
the families of slaves as utterly unsettled and vagrant."
The total, in sixty-four papers, in different States,
for only two weeks, is four thousand one hundred, besides ninety-two
lots, as they are called.
And, now, who is he who compares the hopeless, returnless separation of
the negro from his family, to the voluntary separation of the freeman, whom
necessary business interest takes for a while from the bosom of his family?
Is not the lot of the slave bitter enough without this last of mockeries and
worst of insults? Well may they say in their anguish, "Our soul is exceedingly
filled with the scorning of them that are at ease, and with the contempt of
From the poor negro, exposed to bitterest separation, the law jealously
takes away the power of writing. For him the gulf of separation yawns black
and hopeless, with no redeeming signal. Ignorant of geography, he knows not
whither he is going, or where he is, or how to direct a letter. To all intents
and purposes it is a separation hopeless as that of death, and as final.