was granted, sometimes - when the arrangement was deemed unprofitable - it was refused. Some cases there were in which a slaveholder, prompted by his own sense of morality or religion or urged thereto by a pious wife, suffered these connections of his slaves to have the sanction of religious ceremony. But it is evident that to connect even with such a quasi-marriage the idea of sacredness or religious duty was inconsistent with that legal policy of the slave States which forbade to render indissoluble among slaves a relation which to-morrow it might be for the interest of their owners to break up.
The maternal relation was often as little respected as the marital. On many plantations, where the system was most thoroughly carried out, pregnancy neither exempted from corporal punishment nor procured a diminution of the daily task; and it was a matter of occasional occurrence that the woman was overtaken by the pains of labor in the field, and the child born between the cotton rows. Humane masters, however, were wont to diminish the task as pregnancy advanced, and commonly gave three, occasionally four, weeks" exemption from labor after child birth. The mother was usually permitted to suckle her child during three months only; and the cases were rare in which relaxation from labor was allowed during that brief period. On the other hand, instances have occurred in which the more severe drove the negress into the field within forty-eight hours after she became a mother, there to toil until the day of the next birth.
A noble exception, among others, to such a system of inhumanity, gratefully testified to by the negroes who enjoyed it, was to be found on the plantation of ex-Governor Aiken, one of the largest and most influential planters in the State. His habitual clemency, it is said, gave umbrage to many of his neighbor planters as endangering their authority under a severer rule.
Under such a slave system as this, where humanity is the exception, the iron enters deep into the soul. Popular songs are the expression of the inner life; and the negro songs of South Carolina are, with scarcely an exception, plaintive, despondent, and religious. When there mingles a tone of mournful exultation, it has reference to the future glories of Zion, not to worldly hopes.
If to the above details touching slave life in this State we add the fact that because of the unhealthy climate of the sea islands off the South Carolina coast (chiefly due, it is said, to causes which may be removed), the least valuable and intelligent slaves were usually placed there; further, that being much isolated in small communities these slaves frequently had children of whom the father and mother were near blood relatives, producing deterioration of the race, it can excite no surprise that the negroes of South Carolina as a class are inferior to those from more northern States. An intelligent negro from a northern county of North Carolina, who had there learned the blacksmith's trade and had been hired to work on a railroad in South Carolina, stated to the Commission that he never knew what slavery really was until he left his native State. While there he was comparatively contented. Within a month after he reached South Carolina he determined to risk his life in an attempt to escape.
Yet the negro of South Carolina may be reached, and, with rare exceptions, he may, in a comparatively brief period, be in a measure reformed by judicious management. A chief agency in effecting such reform is the regular payment of wages for work done. Captain