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Newsletter for 30th December 2022

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  • Newsletter for 30th December 2022

    For the latest news from Scotland see our ScotNews feed at:

    Electric Scotland News

    Beth Gay of Beth's Newfangled Family Tree is not well and her husband Tom phoned me to tell me she is taking some weeks off to try and get better. Tom himself is attending his Doctor today to get the all clear for some surgery to fix a long time would that has refused to heal.

    So both of them are having a hard time and it would be great if you could include them in your prayers and even send them a wee email to:

    Scottish News from this weeks newspapers

    Note that this is a selection and more can be read in our ScotNews feed on our index page where we list news from the past 1-2 weeks. I am partly doing this to build an archive of modern news from and about Scotland and world news stories that can affect Scotland and as all the newsletters are archived and also indexed on Google and other search engines it becomes a good resource. I might also add that in a number of newspapers you will find many comments which can be just as interesting as the news story itself and of course you can also add your own comments if you wish which I do myself from time to time.

    Deadly winter storm knocks out power for 1.5m in US and Canada
    Nearly 1.5 million people are without power across several states as a powerful Arctic winter storm sweeps through the US and Canada.

    Read more at:

    The history of why Christmas in Scotland was banned for nearly 400 years
    While Christmas is now among the most popular holidays in Scotland, it was effectively outlawed not so long ago and those caught celebrating were threatened with jail time.

    Read more at:

    Humza Yousaf facing calls to resign after 42,000 Scots forced to spent over 12 hours in A&E
    Nicola Sturgeon is facing fresh calls from opposition parties to sack health secretary Humza Yousaf over his handling of the health service since being appointed.

    Read more at:

    Loganair: The airline that survived 60 years of turbulence
    Loganair has outlasted dozens of British airlines since it was founded 60 years ago, but it's been a bumpy ride along the way

    Read more at:

    Canada's polar bear population plummets - government report
    The polar bear population in Canada's western Hudson Bay has dropped by 27% in just five years, a report has said.

    Read more at:

    Conrad Black: A moral imperative for Trudeau Liberals to resign
    The present government has announced to the Indigenous peoples of this country and for the attention of the United Nations that the forebears of the substantial majority of Canadians who are of European ancestry were guilty, and that therefore this country is collectively guilty, of attempted genocide against the Aboriginal people of Canada. This is a lie. It is not a misunderstanding; it is not a misconstrued or mis-characterized version of historical fact; it is a monstrous falsehood.

    Read more at:

    My Wullie: Late journalist Ian Jack pays tribute to Scotland’s favourite son
    Scotland lost one of the country’s most illustrious journalists after the death of Ian Jack in October

    Read more at:

    Kindness and consensus should colour the debate over Scotland’s future
    Love is not a word you often hear in politics. In part, I think, because love is seen as something too soft.

    Read more at:

    Top doctor says no way Scottish NHS can survive
    Dr Iain Kennedy, the chairman of the BMA, said health staff were exhausted, burnt-out and broken.

    Read more at:

    Your most-read Scottish stories of 2022
    The BBC Scotland news website has looked back at our most-read stories of the year. This is the top 20 for 2022, with the ranking based on the number of page views.

    Read more at:

    Traditional Scottish Hogmanay steak pie recipe for a New Year treat
    There's no shortage of unique and fascinating Scottish Hogmanay traditions some of which go back hundreds of years but the eating of a steak pie on New Year's Day is no doubt the tastiest

    Read more at:

    Electric Canadian

    Bulletins 257 to 271
    Books on Agriculture and Household Science, Results of Co-operative Experiments with Farm Crops, Wheat and Rye, Sugar Beets, Mushrooms, Cheese and Butter Making, Farm Water Supply and Sewage Disposal, Farm Crops, Hay and Pasture Crops, Grasses, Clover, Judging Vegetables, Sheep, etc.

    You can read this at:

    My Canadian Experience
    Reporting on my time from October to December 2022 which includes information on the winter storm.

    You can read this at:

    Thoughts on a Sunday Morning - the 25th day of December 2022 - Merry Christmas
    By the Rev. Nola Crewe

    You can view this at:

    Annual Report and Transaction No. 23 1922 - 1923
    Of the Women's Canadian Historical Society of Toronto including Sketch of the Life of Mrs. W. Forsyth-Grant (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    Electric Scotland

    Beth's Video Talks
    December 28th 2022 - A Child's War living on Orkney 1 of 5

    You can view this at:

    The Lamp of Lothian
    Or, The History of Haddington in connection with the public affairs of East Lothian and of Scotland from the earliest records to 1844 with biographical sketch of the author by James Miller (1900) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    The Gaelic Kingdom in Scotland
    Its origin and church with Sketches of notable Breadalbane and Glenlyon Saints by Charles Stewart (1880) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    Extract from the Despathces of W. Courcelles
    French Ambassador at the Court of Scotland 1586 - 1587 (1828) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    The Tudors' Bizarre 12 Days Of Christmas Ritual
    Tudor Monastery Farm

    You can watch this at:

    King Charles Makes His First Christmas Speech as Monarch

    You can watch this on YouTube at:

    The Isles of Flame
    A romance of the Inner Hebrides in the days of Columba by M. E. M. Donaldson (1913) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:


    From Good Words 1863 edition

    "Whatever may be yet the issue of the American conflict, it will have done two great things,—it will have cast a flood of light upon the condition of the American slaves,—it will have given freedom to great masses of them, if not to all.

    Until the secession war broke out, the means, of accurately ascertaining the positive conditions of the slave in the United States were scanty, and to a great extent doubtful. On the one hand, we had the representations of masters and of their friends. These were always likely to be warped by self interest; even when most sincerely meant, to exhibit but a portion of the truth. In all countries the best employers are the most accessible, the most willing to come forward in testimony of the condition of the employed; yet none are generally more ignorant of the worst practices used in their trade. How much more must this be the case in the slave system, where every possible malpractice in the employment of labour must be intensified a hundredfold, by the practically absolute powers of the master, and by the darkness with which he has the right to shroud his proceedings. Here evidently those who come into the light of publicity will be those only who have no cause, or think they have no cause, to fear it; and who, living in comparative light themselves, have no idea of what may be passing in the dens of darkness around them. The tendency of slave-owning is, moreover, emphatically one of insulation. The best of slave-owners as well as the worst would fain have never a neighbour, since all intercourse with other plantations tends to undermine either the slave-owner’s moral or his physical authority.

    But if the testimony of slave-owners, their friends and casual visitors, was always likely to be too favourable to the slave-system, such testimony as came in to the contrary seemed likely to be overcharged. It was seldom more than superficial; if otherwise, as in the case of fugitives, it was at best local and limited, presumably tinged with passion, resentment, habits of falsehood, likely to represent only extreme cases even when seemingly most veracious, only individual, and lacking the strength which the comparison of different witnesses to the same matter alone can afford. The same disadvantages applied partly to the testimony even of white men, ministers and others, who, after living iu the midst of slavery, were driven away by it, either forcibly or by their own feelings. The only thoroughly satisfactory pre-secessiou testimony as to slavery in its general aspects within the Southern States, that I am aware of, is that of Mr. F. L. Olmsted. And yet it is obvious that Mr. Olmsted, a mere traveller, could not see all.

    But a wholly new state of things has now sprung up. The domain of the slave-power has been overrun well nigh from end to end. The Northern armies have poured down the whole valley of the Mississippi. They hold the whole of the border Slave States of Missouri and Kentucky, with about one-third of Virginia (to say nothing of Delaware and Maryland), the whole of the great slave breeding State of Tennessee, nearly half of Arkansas, a large portion of Mississippi, the chief present centre of the cotton cultivation, of Louisiana, Northern Alabama, much of the coasts of Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, nearly a third of North Carolina. Within those limits, slavery has no longer any secrets. It lies naked and open to the sight under all its various aspects,—in the cotton cultivation, whether of the uplands or the sea islands,—in the sugar cultivation of Louisiana,—in the rice-cultivation of South Carolina and Georgia, —in the turpentine collecting of North Carolina. The Northern forces have, moreover, in some States, penetrated beyond their present limits of occupation. They have already their foot in Northern Georgia. Their cavalry has skirmished up to nearly the walls of Richmond, their gun-boats have run up one of the affluents of the Mississippi, almost to the borders of Texas, whose chief seaport was for a time occupied by the Federal fleet. And what the white man may have failed to see, the black man has told. The South at one time made much of the escapes of slaves. Few people have any idea how trifling was the grievance. The seventh census of the United States (1850), gave the total number of their fugitive slaves at 1011. Ten years after—the fugitive slave law having in the interval come into play,—this number had fallen to 803, of whom upwards of one half (462), were from the free Border States of Delaware Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Virginia. South Carolina, with the densest slave population of the whole union—402,406 out of 703,708,—had but 23 fugitive slaves ; and Florida, only 11. Now, as will be shown hereafter, the number of slaves restored to practical as well as manual freedom, can hardly be reckoned at less than half a million. When the Federal forces were working their way down the Mississippi, 1000 once came in in one day from Arkansas. South Carolina alone contributes 12,000 freedmen; Florida, 6000. And a vast number of these are no longer what the fugitives of old must have been, namely, picked specimens of black humanity,—the most energetic morally, the most enduring physically. In the sea-islands particularly the slaves left behind were mainly women and children, the old, the infirm. To the testimony of the blacks, has to be added that of numbers of unionist refugees, who have either been expelled from or have left the Slave States, and whose tongues are no longer tied respecting the beauties of the “patriarchal system,” as they used to be whilst living in the midst of it, and of many others whose voices would have been of old unheeded. Thus, to quote one single instance, Mrs. Butler has been led to publish her invaluable “Residence on a Georgian plantation,” which, although relating back twenty years, starts as it were into life when compared with the tales of the refugees. Again, an official “Freedmen’s Inquiry Commission,” consisting of Messrs. Robert Dale Owen, James McHay, and Samuel G. Howe, has collected valuable evidence as to slavery in the districts of Columbia, Eastern Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Florida, and published a preliminary report.

    Thus slavery has come to be seen at once in all its breadth and in all its detail. Where formerly it could only be outlined or lightly sketched from a few points of view, it may now be photographed in its minutest features, and from every point. The mass of testimony is overwhelming, and may be checked and counterchecked from white to black and from black to white to any extent. But an ugly picture it offers, look at it how and whence you will. For the result of all this mass of new evidence is simply this,—that the worst that has been hitherto said by isolated voices against American slavery, has been abundantly confirmed; that the distant picture of it has turned out faint and pale beside the reality; that contact with the “patriarchal institution,” so far from converting one sincere abolitionist from the errors of his ways, or confounding one dishonest one, has turned into ardent abolitionists, hundreds and thousands of men who, when they first went down South, were avowedly strong pro-slavery Democrats.

    There are indeed, of course, infinite gradations and varieties in slavery. Apart from what might almost be termed the semi-Slave States only of Delaware and Maryland, where slavery has been, so to speak, withering for years under the gaze of too near freedom, the State in which, upon the whole, the condition of the slave is highest, where he is most a man, and most nearly treated as such, is North Carolina; next to it are the great towns of Louisiana, with the immediately adjoining districts; then Virginia, the “Old Dominion,” and the “good” counties of Georgia, “Liberty County” in particular, where the physical condition of the field slave is perhaps at its highest. As a general rule, slavery becomes harsher as we proceed from East to West, from North to South, from town to country. At the same time, there is probably no district in which “good” masters are not to be found, men who, either by innate benevolence of character or by a sense of duty, render the slave’s lot one of comparative happiness. Bishop Folk in Tennessee may probably be cited as a model slave-owner; in the sea-islands the Freedmen’s Inquiry Commissioners mention “the plantation of Mr. Aiken, one of the largest in the State,” as “a noble exception” to the "general system of inhumanity.” It would be tedious of course to follow step by step the details of the slave’s condition in all the various States, I shall therefore endeavour to confine myself to those characters of the slave-system which may be said to be either general, or to point out what it has been generally tending to.

    The legal elements of the slave’s condition have long since been known. They are all mainly summed up in this: He is not a person, but a thing; at least as towards his master, he or she has no signal honour, no family ties. There is no punishment under any of the Southern slave-codes for the worst outrage by a master on a slave woman’s virtue, on a slave man’s marriage-tie; no legal limit to the uses to which he may put either. The slave has no rights of property; is legally forbidden to develop his intellect by education. The slave has indeed, in certain States, a right to a minimum of subsistence ; and there are penalties for his murder or barbarous ill-usage. But the slave’s testimony, and very often that of the free coloured man’s, is not receivable against the white.

    Such was the law of professedly Christian countries. But it was said till now that it was nothing more than the law ; that the practice of slavery was quite other. This man had seen slaves very fat and sleek ; therefore slaves could not be ill used. That man had seen and heard them laugh and sing; therefore slaves were very happy. That lady had noticed how gorgeously some slave women dressed; therefore slaves must have plenty of money. And all who had seen a slave-owner return home knew how glad the slaves seemed at it; therefore slaves were devotedly attached to their masters. And all these scattered observations being gathered into one focus, were said to flow from one common-sense principle, that the slave being property, it was the interest of the slave-owner to be careful of his property.

    Now it is obvious that such an argument—which is used every day by kind-hearted men and women—is not simply an excuse for American slavery, but a plea for universal slavery.

    If it is true, that a man will care for his brother man because he is his slave, and not care for him if he be free, then was our Lord and Saviour Christ wrong when he bade men Love their neighbour as themselves; He should have said, evidently, as their things. Let there be no mistake on this point: it is a new Gospel which is thus preached unto us. Those who still deem that “the old is better,” can have no concern with it.—But to take far lower ground, I confess I have always wondered how any man who takes the trouble to look over the “Times,’ for instance, every day for a fortnight even, could dare to use the argument, that because slaves are property, therefore they will be well treated as such. For scarcely a day passes but some two-legged brute is had up before English justice, and punished for mal-treatment of that kind of four legged property called a domestic animal. We dare not deny, that in order to secure the decent treatment of this kind of property, there have been needed not only Acts of Parliament and penalties affixed to the violation of them, but a Special society to see that those penalties are enforced ; and yet, in spite of Acts of Parliament, penalties, courts of justice, police, prisons, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty towards Animals, with its special constables, acts of the most diabolical cruelty towards these dumb sufferers are daily discovered to have been perpetrated—to say nothing of the thousands which must escape discovery. And therefore the moment that a human being becomes simply a two-legged piece of property, there will surely be perpetrated upon him, so far as the law does not expressly hinder it, every species of barbarity that is perpetrated upon the four-legged property; and such barbarities will surely be perpetrated upon him to a great extent, whether the law interferes or not, just as they are perpetrated upon dumb beasts. Nay more,—the two-legged human property is sure to be worse used than would be the four-legged, precisely because it is human, because it has will, reason, and the image of God printed on it as on the master himself. Instead of saying, Because slaves are property they will be well treated; the true reasoning is, Because slaves are property, therefore they will be ill-treated, therefore they will surely call forth against them in many an instance every latent capacity of absolute devilhood which lies in the master’s bosom.

    Are you sorry that this should be so? God forbid. As is the tree, so is its fruit. Thank God that men do not gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ! else would they allow the whole world to be overspread of them. Let the thorn tear, let the thistle prick, that man may know that they are there simply to be fought with and rooted out.

    Now the worst side of slavery is no doubt the moral side of it. Though it had no evil physical side to it, it would yet be abominable. Though every slave had plenty to eat, plenty to drink, good shelter, good clothing, moderate work, skilful care in sickness, it is yet hideous that a man should not be a man, a husband not a husband, a father not a father. But the war has shown that the physical maltreatment of slaves was anything but a rare exception. Some persons have laboured hard to persuade others, and many have been led to believe, that the crack of the driver’s whip, summoning the slave-gang to their labour, was but a stimulating and innocent music, a local substitute for accordion or concertina. The enlistment of negroes in the Federal armies has shown what is to be thought of this theory. Thousands of adult negroes who have been enlisted—as many thousands more who have been rejected,—have stripped to the skin before Federal surgeons and officers, and the state of their bodies has borne irrefragable witness to the gentleness of the “Patriarchal Institution."
    Mr. De Pass, surgeon to a Michigan regiment, Tennessee, says that out of 600 negro recruits whom he has examined, one in five bore the marks of severe flogging, “scores showed numerous gashes that you could not cover the scars of with one and often two fingers,” whilst in one case he found more than 1000 marks of from six to eight inches in length. Think of the benevolence of that labour system in which one working man in five has to be flogged till the scars remain! But this estimate probably falls far short of the truth. Mr. De Pass’s report is of very recent date (I find it quoted in the “Spectator” of Sept. 5), and belongs to a period when it must have been pretty well known amongst the coloured men what disabilities would exclude them from military service. Earlier reports tell a far worse account. An officer, writing from Louisiana to the “Boston Transcript,” stated that not one recruit “in fifteen is free from marks of severe lashing,” and that “ more than one half. .. are rejected” (the rejections being themselves more than half of the number that offer) “because of disability, arising from lashing of whips, and biting of dogs on their calves and thighs; ” whilst Mr. Wesley Richards, a surgeon, writing May 25, 1863, to the Cincinnati “Free Nation,” after examining about 700 recruits, says that “at least one half bore evidence of having been severely whipped and maltreated in various ways; "some stabbed with a knife, others shot through the limbs, some wounded with clubs until their bones were broken;” and others had their hamstrings cut to prevent their running off. And General Saxton, in command of the Department of the South (comprising South Carolina, Georgia, Florida), on being examined before the “Freedmen’s Inquiry Commission,” stated that there was scarcely one of the negroes whose back was not “covered with scars.” East and west, it will be seen, the testimony is the same.

    Now it may surprise many who have known what it is to be chastised even severely in their childhood, anti who have retained not the slightest trace of the correction, that scars should be constantly referred to as the result of the flogging of slaves. But we must not confound the patriarchal slave-owner’s corrections with those of a Dr. Busby. McMillan, a trustworthy contraband, examined before the Commissioners, will explain the difference. The slave is stretched out on his face, with his arms and legs tied to bolts or rings, and then—a firm, resisting position being thus secured —lashed till the flesh is laid open. But this is mere routine punishment. A more refined instance of our slave-owning patriarchs’ reformatory discipline is where the slave is buried in a hole in the ground just large enough to receive his body, a door put on the top, and he is thus kept for two or three weeks, or even for a month—if life, of course, so long hold out. Another punishment, which is said to have been several times inflicted, is so indescribably filthy, that I can only hint at it by saying that it consists in turning men into living cesspools, with the application of artificial means for increasing the amount of sewage. Of a Port Royal woman whom Mr. Nordhoft saw, he says, “She had suffered treatment so inhuman that I cannot describe it here; I will only say, that not only her back but her breasts bore deep scars, the marks of unmerciful and brutal flogging.”

    Again: no doubt to favour the slave’s well-known devoted attachment to his master and his master’s plantation, a 50 lb. weight is hung to his ankle, or he is invested with an iron collar with long prongs or horns. But Solomon Bradley, a blacksmith by trade, who, for his superior intelligence, had been appointed chief steward, at $30 a month, on board a Federal transport, and resigned the situation to enlist, when he could only receive $11 a month, because he “could not feel right as long as he was not in the regiment,”—Solomon Bradley describes the following as the most cruel punishment he ever saw inflicted, by one Mr. Farraby, owner of one of the largest South Carolina coast plantations, near Port Royal. Attracted by the noise of fearful screams in Mr. Farraby’s own yard, he went up, and saw a slave-girl stretched on the ground on her face, her hands and feet tied fast to stakes, her master standing over her, beating her with a leather trace from a harness, every blow of which raised the flesh if it did not gash it, and now and then kicking her in the face with his heavy boots when she screamed too loud. When he had become exhausted by this benevolent exertion, our "patriarch” sent for sealing-wax and a lighted lamp, and dropped the blazing wax into the gashes; after which, finally, his arm being rested apparently, he switched the wax out again with a riding-whip. Two grown-up Miss Farrabys were all this while watching the humane series of operations from the upper windows. And the offence of the girl was *burning the waffles for her master’s breakfast."

    A black man’s testimony, some may say. Yes; and that of a man who is described as being as thoroughly truthful and conscientious as any white. Do you want white testimony to similar acts? The Rev. William Taylor, in a pamphlet on the “Cause and probable Results of the Civil War in America,” relates the following, which has the advantage of showing the patriarchal institution under its “pious” aspect:—

    “A dear friend of mine, in my native county, in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, was passing the house of a neighbour, and saw in the barn-yard, suspended from a. beam .... a coloured woman hung up by her hands. She was nearly naked, had been whipped till she was unable to moan aloud, and had an ear of Indian corn stuck in her mouth as a gag. In that condition she was left hanging till her master should take his breakfast, and have family prayers. My friend went in to see him, and remonstrated in vain to have her taken down, till after the family devotions were oyer......This pious (?) family I knew well, and their three children, William, Arthur, and Adeline, were taught authority between the ages of five and ten years by being set to whip the said poor woman at will, and she was beaten and scarred up so as to present a most unnatural and hideous appearance.”

    But these are only the milder mercies of the Eastern sea-board. We must go to the dreaded South-west to find the lashings carried to the pitch of disabling the sufferer—the stabbings, shootings, poundings of limbs with clubs, cuttings of hamstrings, of which the surgeons speak. Yet the surgeons had nothing to say but to men, and those living ones. In God’s avenging hosts which we see not, there may be other and more helpless recruits. The Rev. Mr. Aughey, who was a minister in Mississippi at the outbreak of Secession, in a work called “The Iron Furnace,” tells of some of these. “Mr. P-------, who resided near Holly Springs” (Mississippi), “had a negro woman whipped to death while I was at his house during a Session of Presbytery. Mr. C--------, of Waterford, Mississippi, had a woman whipped to death by his overseer. But such cruel scourgings are of daily occurrence. .... Mrs. F--------------recently whipped a boy to death within half a mile of my residence. Old Mr. C------, of Waterford, Mississippi” (apparently the same patriarch as before referred to), “punished his negroes by slitting the soles of their feet -with his bowie-knife. One man he put into a cotton-press, and turned the screw till life was extinct. He stated that he only intended to alarm the man, but carried the joke too far. ” Of course the laws which exist in every State against the murder or torturing of slaves, are about as well observed as might be laws enacted by wolves against sheep-murder, and providing that between wolf and sheep no sheep could be witness. Sometimes, indeed, in this black southwest, some peculiarly atrocious excess of patri-archalism raises the horror even of the white crowd, and the offender is lynched or his or her house burnt down. But in no single one of the instances above quoted do we find that any punishment was inflicted. When Mrs. F------------------, of Mississippi, whipped her slave-boy to death, the coroner’s jury returned a verdict of death by cruelty; but Mr. Aughey expressly states that “nothing more was done.”

    In the real South, the lash is evidently a regular daily element of the institution. “I am residing,” writes Mr. Aughey, “on the banks of the Yoch-a-noohany. .... In this vicinity there are large plantations, cultivated by hundreds of negroes. . . . Every night, the negroes are brought to a judgment seat. The overseer presides. If they have not laboured to suit him, or if their task is unfulfilled, they are chained to a post and severely whipped. ” Of these overseers, the writer has just said: “I never knew a pious overseer—never. .... Overseers, as a class, are worse than slave-owners themselves. They are cruel, brutal, licentious; dissipated, and profane. They always carry a loaded whip, a revolver, and a bowie-knife.” Such are the dispensers of the Southern slave-owners’ justice. Of course the terror' they excite is extreme; and the writer says he has known an instance of a woman through fright giving birth to a child at the whipping-post. It need hardly be said that it is at the option of the overseer to strip the slaves to any extent. “In Louisiana, women, preparatory to whipping, are often stripped to a state of perfect nudity.” Black women only, perhaps some aristocrat of colour may think. “There is a girl,” said one Colonel H-----, a member of Mr. Aughey’s church, to the latter, “who does not look very white in the face, owing to exposure; but when I strip her to whip her, I find that she has a skin as fair as my wife." It is thus evidently the habit of these Mississippi patriarchs to strip and whip women as white of skin as their own wives. And the slaves are so fond of the system that “every night,” Mr. Aughey tells us, “the Mississippi woods resound with the deep-mouthed baying of the bloodhounds.”

    Remember always, that, between Virginia, and even South Carolina, on the one hand, and the South-west on the other, every intermediate stage must be supposed to exist. e. g., Mr. Taylor—a Virginian, let us recollect, of the Shenandoah Valley, whose wife was brought up in Alabama—mentions an instance in the latter State, where a master, riding home with a runaway, flogged the latter with a heavy whip till he sunk in his tracks and died within a few hours whereupon all the neighbourhood sympathised deeply with the patriarch who had lost so valuable a man, and deemed the accident “a warning to niggers to stay at home and mind their own business.”

    But, after all, say many, the negro is but an idle vagabond. He is punished because he will not work as he ought to do. That the slave does not do as much work as a freeman is a fact, and one which I for my part rejoice over. I do rejoice, I repeat it, over the fact that the lash and all its tortures, and every other brutality of the slave system, have no other effect than that of making men what are termed “lazy vagabonds.” We shall see hereafter what they tiirn out without the lash, when once treated like men, by men who understand the word. And yet it is the fact that these “lazy vagabonds” are over-worked. The reports of the Federal surgeons, in addition to the evidence they afford of maltreatment, show also the frequency of a painful affliction—hernia—the well-known result of over-exertion. This is perhaps especially the case on the sugar-estates of Louisiana. “One beautiful Sabbath morning,” says Mr. Aughey, “I stood on the levee at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and counted twenty-seven sugar-houses in full blast. I found that the negroes were compelled to labour eighteen hours per day, and were not permitted to rest on the Sabbath during the rolling season. The negroes on most plantations have a truck-patch, which they cultivate on the Sabbath. I have pointed out the sin of thus labouring on the Sabbath, but they plead necessity; their children, they state, must suffer from hunger if they did not cultivate their truck-patch, and their masters would not give them time on any other day.” But even where the work is not in itself so severe, it is made oppressive by its continuousness. Thus, in the sea islands, where the hours of work were from daylight to 5 p.m., there was no cessation of labour allowed for meals, and the slave must eat whatever food he could get without leaving off his hoeing on cotton picking. And those who are most over worked are of course the weakest,—those least able to bear it,—women and children.

    Mr. Nordhoft tells us in his interesting pamphlet of “the Freedmen of South Carolina”—and his statement is abundantly confirmed—it was then the custom to extort field-work from women up to the very day when their children were born; when the child was two weeks old, the mother was again sent to work with the hoe; and he notices as “the only” labour-saving arrangement he saw on the islands, contrived by slaveholders, that in most of the large cotton-fields there were single palmetix trees dotted at regular intervals over the field: these being meant to shelter the babies under th< care of some old women, till at stated hours the mothers came to suckle them. I can do no more here than hint at the consequences of such labour on the female frame. Its terrible ravages are pointed out by Mrs. Butler in her “Residence on a Georgian Plantation”—a book which, for the sake of her sex, every wife and mother should read.

    But the slaves are surely well fed? No one need doubt that the house-slaves in a rich slave-owning family live as thoroughly on the very fat of the land as any Jeames Footman, or Tom Coachman, or William Butler in Belgravia or Essex; and the same applies more or less to all town slaves. But the bulk of the Southern field hands live under very different conditions. For, says Mr. Nordhoft, “the only food these negroes on the sea islands of Carolina received from their masters was one peck of Indian corn per week. On a very few plantations the masters gave in addition, during the season when the field-work was most exhausting, a little bacon twice or thrice in the week. Fresh meat they tasted probably once or twice in the year.” Of one “bery mean missus” it was told that “she kill a cow once in free year!”.

    Of course the negroes cannot live on a peck of corn a week, which they have to grind in small hand-mills after their day’s work. So, when the master has got all the work out of them he chooses, he graciously allows them to work for their own subsistence. Hence the “truck patch” of Mississippi, which has to be cultivated on the Sunday. This is a general institution, except on the coast, where the waters supply easier means of subsistence. Thus in the sea-islands, Mr. Nordhoft found in every cabin a scoop net, and pigs and hens cackling around the “quarters” of the blacks,—raised, however, to sell and not to eat. And there is no doubt that throughout the “better counties,” not only is better food supplied by the masters, but considerable indidgence is generally shown to the negroes in allowing them, to raise vegetables, pigs, and poultry for their own use or for sale. But it will of course be remembered that this is only an indulgence,—that such privileges are often withheld,—and that the master or his creditors often enforce his absolute legal rights over the earnings of the slave. It is probably chiefly in the eastern agricultural States, where the soil is being gradually worn out, that insufficient food is a most frequent grievance in the slave’s lot. The “Times” and its congeners are never tired of talking of the wretched condition'of the free coloured men of the North (a class, be it always recollected, better educated than the Southern whites, the amount of school attendance being more than one-ninth of the total Northern coloured population, whilst at the South it is less than one-tenth of the total white). But Northern observers concur in remarking, not only the aspect of intellectual degradation, but the less robustness of frame, amongst the Port Royal negroes, than amongst the Northern ones; and the greater prevalence of scrofula is noted by the Northern physicians. And the insufficiency of food, again, told most strongly on the weakest, —the children. Thus an old woman described to Mr. Nordhoft the children “in de old time” as “lean, lean like buzzard. For why? dey used to make me work, work, work, so poor moder hab nuffin to gib her child — child starve ’fore it born — dat’s what make ’em lean like buzzard” (meaning of course the turkey-buzzard, a frightful flying scarecrow). In the West, where the labour was harder, the food given was necessarily more abundant; but being often unwholesome and too little varied, brought on amongst other diseases the well-known one of clay or dirt-eating. I will only add here the words of one who has been a slave, and whose experience embraces nearly the whole of the Slave States, except Florida and Texas: “As to what the condition of the slaves is in some of the worst counties, I should not like to tell it, for you would not believe me.”

    In passing from the physical to the moral aspects of slavery, we are met by the great difficulty, that a large portion of its daily working consists really of things such as should not be named among Christian men. It is difficult for us to realise the fact that men and women professing to be Christians should allow other men and women around them, whom they claim as their own property, to gratify their passions like brute beasts, the name of marriage representing a mere temporary relation. In the sea islands, Captain Hooper bears testimony to the fact that many of the negro men “now have two or three wives, and children by each.” The masters, it is distinctly stated, do not care whether the slave women are married or not, so long as they have children, nor have they, as a matter of fact, any scruple in breaking up such unions. The wife and children of Solomon Bradley, an “Uncle Tom” among the Port Royal negroes, were sold away some years ago, and he never expected to meet with them again. Between white and. coloured, it is a principle of law throughout the Slave States, that there can be no legal union. But the number of mixed bloods shows that the white man’s horror of “amalgamation” only starts into vitality within the church door. On Port Royal island already the “yellow niggers" form a considerable part of the population. “In almost all the schools,” says Mr. Nordhoft, “you find children with blue eyes and light hair—oftenest yellow.” Yet the description lists found at Hilton Head of the slaves shipped from thence showed that the greater number of these were mixed bloods. Now as such shipments are almost universally for the dreaded South, it follows that the “patriarchs” and their overseers send their own offspring to a harsher slavery than that around themselves. And, owing partly to these shipments of the mixed breeds, partly to the more unbridled licentiousness of the whites themselves, it appears beyond a doubt that in the south and south-west the proportion of "white” and “yellow niggers” is far higher than in the eastern States. Mr. Aughey speaks of preaching “to a large congregation of slaves, the third of whom were as white as himself,” some with red hair and blue eyes. We remember that slave girl in Mississippi whose skin when she was stripped for whipping was as white as that of her master’s wife. Mr. De Camp, the surgeon above referred to, speaks of having seen standing before him three negro recruits, in whom “the most critical examination could not detect the slightest trace of negro blood.” General Mac Dow says that in the district of Louisiana which he is writing from, there are very few slaves of unmixed negro blood. It is notorious that many planters have families of white and families of coloured children, and perhaps give the latter to wait on the former. Remember always that the chastity of the slave has no legal protection. I cannot here enter into details: suffice it to say, that the slave system has ere this enforced incest at the will of the master. But, without descending to such horrors, let any of my countrywomen picture to herself what must be the lot of women (often, as we have seen, as white as herself) placed from year’s end to year’s end under the absolute control of an overseer, such as Mr. Aughey, and in fact almost all witnesses, describe—“cruel, brutal, licentious,” always armed with the loaded whip, the bowie knife, and the revolver,—liable, too, at any time, without any recourse under heaven, to be sold or hired out into harlotry, as is practically done in every Southern city—and then say whether the system in which such things are possible has the right to insult God and man any longer by its existence.

    Treating the slave thus like a brute, none could feel surprised if he were to become such. The coloured witnesses who have been examined before the Freedmen’s Inquiry Commission are very frank on the subject of the moral condition of their race. The slaves, says Robert Small—a bold fellow, who ran a steamer, the “Planter,” out of Charleston Harbour, past Sumter and its dangers, to join the Federal fleet, a feat which Mr. Nordhoft calls “one of the bravest and most brilliant acts of the war”— are very envious of one another, cannot bear to see; one of their number advanced to any position which all cannot reach, and will resort to any means in their power to degrade him. They are, as slaves, selfish, cowardly, untruthful, thievish. Though they have strong religious impulses, their religion is little more than sentiment. Even professedly pious slaves have often no scruple in “taking” from their masters—the term “stealing” being reserved for thefts as between themselves—the general argument being that, as their masters take everything from them, they may take back what they can. A simple detail shows the brutish habits ; engendered. The blacks are, says a former slave, I “voracious and solitary in their eating, snatching the food prepared for them, and each one walking off to some distance to eat, and, when the supply is exhausted, walking back to snatch more, if there is any left; which is seldom the case, as each is likely to take more than he can eat.” They are often unfeeling and cruel, so far as becoming the instruments of their master’s cruelty. The great bulk of the punishments are inflicted by the hands of the slaves themselves—even sometimes those which end in death. And let it always be remembered that the negro has no means of self-improvement. A father is known to have received twenty lashes for teaching his son to read. “In Mississippi,” says Mr. Aughey, “a man who taught slaves to read or write would be sent to the penitentiary instanter.” As a matter of fact, out of the eight thousand slaves whom the occupation of Port Royal threw upon the hands of the Federal Government, only a very few had picked up the elements of book learning, and a couple of the older men were able actually to read. And whilst the means of selfinstruction are forbidden by law, religious teaching is entirely subject to the discretion of the master. If the preacher does not preach sound patriarchal doctrine, he is either hunted out of slavedom or lynched within it. The jargon used by the slave is of itself sufficient proof of the degradation to which he has been reduced. It is not. like the dialects and patois of our own country, of France, Germany, Italy, a form of speech probably coeval .with the language, and which had originally as good a chance of developing into the standard one. It is a mere corruption of the master’s language, the fruit of estrangement and neglect. When the “patriarchal system” of South Carolina results in debasing the plain English, "I will go and see about it,” into the negro’s “I go shum” (see ’em), we may see at once what a gulf it has opened between master and man.

    Such, then, is Southern slavery, as it now stands thoroughly revealed to the world—a system which, aiming at treating black men as brutes, not only succeeds in making them such, but generally makes two brutes for one—the white and the black. Mr. Aughey, after an experience of eleven years in eight different Slave States, declares that he has "never yet seen any example of slavery” that he did not “deem sinful.” He “cannot do otherwise than pronounce it an unmitigated curse” to white and black alike.

    There is but one touch to add to the above picture. Bad as it was in itself, slavery was getting worse. South Carolina,—the acknowledged pioneer of Secession,—which tried thirty years ago by means of “nullification” to throw off the control of the Federal authority,—which was the first to declare actual Secession, the first to fire upon the Federal flag, the first to reduce a Federal fort by force of arms,—is a State which, as one of the luminaries of Secession, the Hon. L. W. Spratt, has declared, fairly exhibits “the normal nature of the institution ” in a population where the slaves outnumber the freemen by 120,000. Yet in this State, the Freedmen’s Inquiry Commissioners emphatically declare slavery “ has been darkening in its shades of inhumanity from year to year.” They found “ conclusive evidence that, half-a-century since, its phase was much milder than now. It is the uniform testimony of emancipated freedmen from this State above the age of sixty that, in their youth, slavery was a mercifid and considerate system compared with what it has been for thirty years past. These old men are bright and intelligent compared with the younger field hands, in many of whom a stolid, sullen despondency attests the stupefying influence of slave-driving under its more recent phase.”

    And what is true of South Carolina is true of all the South. Within the last quarter of a century especially, slavery, from a mere practice, has grown into a system and a creed. Its economic powers have been calculated to the last figure; it has reckoned exactly what work could be got out of a man at every species of labour, how many years he should “last” at cotton-growing, how many at rice-growing, how many at sugar-growing, &c.; the relative advantages of driving him,—i.e., killing him off quick,—or husbanding his strength, have been discussed ; and food, clothing, shelter, have been regulated with reference to the data obtained. On the other hand,—since by one of the most inflexible, most awful, yet most salutary rules of God’s government, those who “set up their idols in their heart and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face,” when they inquire of the Lord, shall always be answered “according to the multitude of their idols,” so the South, proclaiming the evil thing slavery to be good, has thought to find its consecration even in that Book which is a message to all mankind of deliverance from every shape of bondage; and it has hardened itself in this faith, and its priests and prophets have been deceived of the Lord to speak lies in its ears, to prophesy unto it the smooth things which it loved, till at last, in its devilish pride, unable to brook the very contact of freedom, it turned away as from an accursed thing, and would fain set up its own model Republic, based, said its Vice-President, “upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.”

    And then were seen upon the walls of slavery’s palace fingers of a man’s hand, writing “Mene, mene, Tekel______” Then struck for the Southern slave an hour such as his friends afar off had scarcely hoped to see, but which, with blind God-sent instinct, he seems himself to have been long waiting for. From the moment that the secession flag was raised, slavery, as all see now, was doomed.

    But this was little:—through the collision between his oppressors and his despisers, the oppressed and despised negro has grown to be by this time the earthly arbiter of the contest. If the 400,000 or 500,000 able-bodied negroes who may yet remain in the South were armed by their masters and chose to fight on their side, it is plainly seen that no force which the North could henceforth bring to bear could possibly prevent the establishment of a Southern republic. If those 400,000 or 500,000 able-bodied negroes chose to side actively with the North, it is equally plain that no force which the South can now call forth would suffice to overcome them. Has not God chosen once more before our eyes “the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world, and things which are despised, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are?”

    One word, however, to prevent misconception. I have lived myself amongst slave-owners, though not on the American continent. I know that they are men and women like others, capable of and manifesting all human virtues. It would ill beseem Englishmen, above all others, who know that by England slavery was introduced and maintained in her North-American colonies, to be Pharisaical against those whose misfortune it has been to be burdened with that legacy of crime. But no tenderness that we may feel towards any individual slave-holder should induce any toleration towards slavery itself, or towards the slave-owner’s character in the abstract. And while we may admire the gallantry with which the Southern slave-holders have carried on the contest with the North; and may do full justice to the purity of the motives which led a Stonewall Jackson into the thick of so many a fight, we must remember that the heroic defence of Vicksburg or Sumter no more palliates Southern slavery than did the heroic defence oi Jerusalem by the Jews of old palliate the crucifixion of our Lord.

    J. M. Ludlow


    Weekend is almost here and as New Year's Day is on Sunday I hope it's an especially good weekend for you all and so wishing you all a Very Happy New Year in 2023.


  • #2
    Happy Hogmanay Alastair, with best wishes for good health and security in the new year.


    • #3
      Thanks Rick and a Happy New Year to you and all the regulars.



      • #4
        Happy New Year Al. As my old Grandad used to say "One more, one less!". He was a happy old soul~~~