Monday, February 28, 2011
By: Douglas A. Blackmon
An elderly black man named Ephraim Gaither testified during the state's hearings as to the fate of a 16-year-old boy at a lumber camp owned by Mr. Hurt and operated by his son George Hurt. The teenager was serving three months of hard labor for an unspecified misdemeanor.
"He was around the yard sorter playing and he started walking off," Mr. Gaither recounted. "There was a young fellow, one of the bosses, up in a pine tree and he had his gun and shot at the little negro and shot this side of his face off," Mr. Gaither said as he pointed to the left side of his face. The teenager ran into the woods and died. Days later, a dog appeared in the camp dragging the boy's arm in its mouth, Mr. Gaither said. The homicide was never investigated.
Called to testify before the commission, Mr. Hurt lounged in the witness chair, relaxed and unapologetic for any aspect of the sprawling businesses.
Another witness before the commission, former chief warden Jake Moore, testified that no prison guard could ever "do enough whipping for Mr. Hurt." "He wanted men whipped for singing and laughing," Mr. Moore told the panel.
In response to the revelations, Gov. Hoke Smith called a special session of the state Legislature, which authorized a public referendum on the fate of the system. In October 1908, Georgia's nearly all-white electorate voted by a 2-to-1 margin to abolish the system as of March 1909. Without prison labor, business collapsed at Chattahoochee Brick. Production fell by nearly 50% in the next year. Total profit dwindled to less than $13,000.
The apparent demise of Georgia's system of leasing prisoners seemed a harbinger of a new day. But the harsher reality of the South was that the new post-Civil War neoslavery was evolving -- not disappearing.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
South Carolina Slave Code: Provided that in any action or suit to be brought in pursuance of the direction of this act the burthen of the proof shall lay upon the plaintiff, and it shall be always presumed, that every negro, Indian, mulato, and mestizo, is a slave unless the contrary can be made appear (the Indians in amity with this government excepted) in which case the burden of the proof shall lie on the defendant.
AN ACT FOR THE BETTER ORDERING AND GOVERNING [OF]
NEGROES AND OTHER SLAVES IN THIS PROVINCE
Mestizo. con Yndia. Producen cholo
taken, reputed and adjudged in law to be chattels personal in the hands of their owners and possessors and their executors, administrators and assigns to all intents, constructions and purposes whatsoever, Provided that if any negro Indian mulato, or mestizo shall claim his or her freedom, it shall and may be lawful for such negro, Indian, mulato, or mestizo, or any person or persons whatsoever, on his or her behalf to apply to the justices of his Majesty's court of common pleas by petition or motion, either during the sitting of the said court, or before any of the justices of the same court at any time in the vacation.
And the said court or any of the justices thereof, shall and they are hereby fully impowered to admit any person so applying, to be guardian for any negro, Indian, mulato or mestizo, claiming his, her or their freedom, and such guardians shall be enabled, intitled and capable in law to bring an action of trespass, in the nature of ravishment of ward against any person who shall claim property in, or who shall be in possession of any such negro, Indian, mulato or mestizo.
Black with Mulata produce a Sambo
Series of paintings sent by the Viceroy Amat King Carlos III in 1770.
In 1819, the Legislature of Louisiana recognized the lawfulness of putting iron chains and collars upon slaves, to prevent them from running away, as follows:
“If any person or persons, &c., shall cut or break any iron collar which any master of slaves shall have used in order to prevent the running away or escape of any such slave or slaves, such persons so offending shall, on conviction, be fined not less than two hundred dollars, nor exceeding one thousand dollars; and suffer imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, nor less than six months.” (Act of Assembly of March 6, 1819. Pamphlet, p. 64.)
Compare this penalty with that imposed by the Legislature of the same State for cruelties committed on slaves, viz: “not more than five hundred dollars nor less than two hundred,” (1 Martin’s Digest, 654,) and it will appear that the releasing of a slave from the “usual” punishment of the “iron chain or collar” is regarded a more aggravated crime than inflicting upon him the “unusual punishment,” whatever it may be, prohibited by law! For thle act of mercy, the offender may be fined $1000 and imprisoned two years; for the act of atrocious cruelty, he may be fined $500, but without imprisonment. Thus it is that the Legislature of Louisiana discountenances cruelty.
The slaves are often tortured by iron collars, with long prongs or “horns” and sometimes bells attached to them—they are made to wear chains, handcuffs, fetters, iron clogs, bars, rings, and bands of iron upon their limbs, iron marks upon their faces, iron gags in their mouths, &c.
In proof of this, we give the testimony of slaveholders themselves, under their own names; it will be mostly in the form of extracts from their own advertisements, in southern newspapers, in which, describing their runaway slaves, they specify the iron collars, handcuffs, chains, fetters, &c., which they wore upon their necks, wrists, ankles, and other parts of their bodies. (Beecher Stow, Harriet, Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, pg.73)
WITNESSES: H. Gridly, sheriff of Adams county, Mi., in the "Memphis (Tenn.) Times,'' September, 1834.
TESTIMONY: "Was committed to jail, a negro boy—had on a large neck iron with a huge pair of horns and a large bar or band of iron on his left leg.''
WITNESSES: Mr. Lambre, in the "Natchitoches (La.) Herald,'' March 29, 1837.
TESTIMONY: "Ranaway, the negro boy Teams—he had on his neck an iron collar.''
WITNESSES: Messrs. J. L. and W. H. Bolton, Shelby county, Tennessee, in the "Memphis Enquirer,'' June 7, 1837.
TESTIMONY: "Absconded, a colored boy named Peter—had an iron round his neck when he went away.
WITNESS: William Toler, sheriff of Simpson county, Mississippi, in the "Southern Sun,'' Jackson, Mississippi, September 22, 1838.
TESTIMONY: "Was committed to jail, a yellow boy named Jim—had on a large lock chain around his neck.''
WITNESS: Mr. James R. Green, in the "Beacon,'' Greensborough, Alabama, August 23, 1838.
TESTIMONY: Ranaway, a negro man named Squire—had on a chain locked with a house-lock, around his neck.''
WITNESS: Mr. Hazlet Loflano, in the "Spectator,'' Staunton, Virginia, Sept. 27, 1838.
TESTIMONY: "Ranaway, a negro named David—with some iron hobbles around each ankle.''
WITNESS: Mr. T. J. De Yampert, merchant, Mobile, Alabama, of the firm of De Yampert, King & Co., in the "Mobile Chronicle,'' June 15, 1838.
TESTIMONY: "Ranaway, a negro boy about twelve years old—had round his neck a chain dog-collar, with 'De Yampert engraved on it.''
WITNESS: J. H. Hand, jailor, St. Francisville, La., in the "Louisiana Chronicle,'' Jully 26, 1837.
TESTIMONY: "Committed to jail, slave John—has several scars on his wrists, occasioned, as he says, by handcuffs.''
WITNESS: Mr. Charles Curener. New Orleans, in the "Bee,'' July 2, 1838.
TESTIMONY: "Ranaway, the negro, Hown—has a ring of iron on his left foot. Also, Grisee, his wife, having a ring and chain on the left leg.''
WITNESS: Mr. Owen Cooke, "Mary street, between Common and Jackson streets,'' New Orleans, in the N. O. "Bee,'' September 12, 1837.
TESTIMONY: "Ranaway, my slave Amos, had a chain attached to one of his legs.''
WITNESS: H. W. Rice, sheriff, Colleton district, South Carolina, in the "Charleston Mercury,'' September 1, 1838.
TESTIMONY: "Committed to jail, a negro named Patrick, about forty-five years old, and is handcuffed.''
WITNESS: W. P. Reeves, jailor, Shelby county, Tennessee, in the "Memphis Enquirer, June 17, 1837.
TESTIMONY: "Committed to jail, a negro—had on his right leg an iron band with one link of a chain.''
WITNESS: Mr. P. T. Manning, Huntsville, Alabama, in the "Huntsville Advocate,'' Oct. 23, 1838.
TESTIMONY: "Ranaway, a negro boy named James—said boy was ironed when he left me.''
WITNESS: Mr. William L. Lambeth, Lynchburg, Virginia, in the "Moulton [Ala.] Whig,'' January 30, 1836.
TESTIMONY: "Ranaway, Jim—had on when he escaped a pair of chain hand. cuffs.''
----WITNESS: Mr. D. F. Guex, Secretary of the Steam Cotton Press Company, New Orleans, in the "Commercial Bulletin,'' May 27, 1837.
TESTIMONY:"Ranaway, Edmund Coleman—it is supposed he must have iron shackles on his ankles.''
WITNESS: Mr. Francis Durett, Lexington, Alabama, in the "Huntsville Democrat,'' March 8, 1838.
TESTIMONY: "Ranaway—, a mulatto—had on when he left, a pair of handcuffs and a pair of drawing chains.''
WITNESS: B. W. Hodges, jailor, Pike county, Alabama, in the "Montgomery Advertiser,'' Sept. 29, 1837.
TESTIMONY: "Committed to jail, a man who calls his name John—he has a clog of iron on his right foot which will weigh four or five pounds.''
WITNESS: Mr. Charles Kernin, parish of Jefferson, Louisiana, in the N. O. "Bee,'' August 11, 1837.
TESTIMONY: "Ranaway, Betsey—when she left she had on her neck an iron collar.''
WITNESS: Mr. T. Enggy, New Orleans, Gallatin street, between Hospital and Barracks, N. O. "Bee,'' Oct. 27, 1837.
TESTIMONY: "Ranaway, negress Caroline—had on a collar with one prong turned down.''
WITNESS: Mr. John Henderson, Washington, county, Mi., in the "Grand Gulf Advertiser,'' August 29, 1838.
TESTIMONY: "Ranaway, a black woman, Betsey—had an iron bar on her right leg.''
(source: American Slavery As It Is, by Theodore Weld, New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1839)
POMPEY. "What day ob de month id dis, Massa?"
MASTER. "Twenty-sixth December. Why?"
POMPEY. "Oh! cause you knows Massa LINKUM he gib us our Papers on de First January, God bless um; and now I wants to say as how you allus was a good Massa, and so I'll gib you a Mont's Notice to git anudder Boy. Niggers is powerful cheap now, Massa!"
source: Civil War Harper's Weekly, January 10,1863
Friday, February 25, 2011
Three and a half million slaves were transported in British ships alone. They went to British plantations, to make British profits and build British cities—Bristol, Liverpool, and Glasgow. Where the cult of liberty is still on everyone's lips in smart coffeehouses.
Here's a little thing of devilish prettiness—silver-- it looks like jewelery. Might be a hat pin, or something like that. But, it's not. This is an object that marked the passage of a human being to a thing. This is a branding iron. "Once these initials were burned into your flesh, you were no longer a human...You were an object. You were a commodity. You belonged to someone. You were a beast-of-burden. . ."-- Simon Schama (historian)
The Wrong Empire, chapter 3