SECTION II. - Negroes as refugees.
(South Carolina and Florida.)
What has been stated in the foregoing pages as to the refugees that have crossed our lines from Eastern Virginia and North Carolina, though true in the main also of South Carolina and Florida negroes, is to be received with some modification as regards the former slave population of these two last-named States, especially South Carolina.
This is one of the States in which the system of negro slavery seems to have reached its farthest development with the least modification from contact with external civilization. There it appears to have run out nearer to its logical consequences than in any other we have visited. There it has been darkening in its shades of inhumanity and moral degradation from year to year, exhibiting, more and more, increased cruelty, a more marked crushing out, in the case of the negro race, of the humanizing relations of civilized life, and a closer approach, in practice, to a monstrous maxim; the same which a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, perverting history, alleges to have been the sentiment of the civilized world when the U. S. Constitution was adopted, and in the spirit of which he assumes (in virtue of such perversion) that Constitution to have been framed, namely, that "the negro has no rights which the white man is bound to respect" (a). The evidence before the Commission shows that half a century ago its phase was much milder than on the day when South Carolina seceded. It is the uniform testimony of all emancipated South Carolinian slaves above the age of sixty that their youth was spent under a state of things which, compared to that of the last thirty years, was merciful and considerate. As a general rule, these old men are more bright and intelligent than the younger field hands, in many of whom a stolid, sullen despondency attests the stupefying influence of slave-driving under its more recent phase.
The disintegration of the family relation is one of the most striking and most melancholy indications of this progress of barbarism. The slave was not permitted to own a family name; instances occurred in which he was flogged for presuming to use one. He did not eat with his children or with their mother; "there was no time for that." In portions of this State, at least, a family breakfast or dinner table was a thing so little known among these people that ever since their enfranchisement it has been very difficult to break them of the life-long habit that each should clutch the dish containing his portion and skulk off into a corner, there to devour it in solitude. The entire day, until after sunset, was spent in the field; the night in huts of a single room, where all ages and both sexes herded promiscuously. Young girls of fifteen, some of an earlier age, became mothers, not only without marriage, but often without any pretense of fidelity to which even a slave could give that name. The church, it is truce, interposed her protest; but the master, save in exceptional cases, did not sustain it, tacitly sanctioning a state of morality under which ties of habitual affection could not assume a form dangerous or inconvenient to despotic rule.
The men, indeed, frequently asked from their masters the privilege of appropriating to themselves those of the other sex. Sometimes it
a Dred Scott vs. John F. A. Sandford, December Tern, 1856, 23 Howard, 407.
28 R R - SERIES III, VOL III