by the pains of labor in the field, and the child born between the cotton rows, Humane masters, however, were wont to diminish the tacks as pregnancy advanced, and commonly gave three, occasionally four, weeks" exemption from labor after childbirth. 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 exaltation, 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 farther 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.
To judge whether a natural increase of population is necessarily connected with physical comforts, it behooves us to look to the interior slave life of the South, to the motives which encourage such increase, and to the conditions which attach to it. We find these well set forth by one who had the best opportunities to observe, having resided some five months on her husband's plantation in Georgia, and being in theday events as they occurred. It is doubtful whether there has been presented to the public in modern times a more authentic or more faithful chronicle of every-day life in the cotton States than is to be found in the journal from which our extract is taken. The writer had been conversing with a negress who had formerly been a favorite house servant, and thus proceeds:
She named to me all her children, an immense tribe; and, by the bye, E---, it has occurred to me that, whereas the increase of this ill-fated race is frequently adduced as a proof of their good treatment and well-being, it really and truly is no such thing, and springs from quite other causes than the peace and plenty which a rapidly increasing population are supposed to indicate. * * * Peace and plenty are certainly causes of human increase, and so is recklessness. Here it is more than recklessness, for there are certain indirect premiums held out to obey the early command of replenishing the earth, which do not fail to have either full
a cowhide stands and stripes them. I give you the woman's words. She did not speak of this as anything strange, unusual, or especially horrid and abominable; and when I said, "Did they do this to you when were with child?" she simply replied, "Yes, missis." * * * I gave the woman meat and flannel, which were what she came for, and remained, choking with indignation and grief, long after they had all left me to my most bitter thoughts. (Journal of a residence on a Georgian plantation in 1838-39, by Frances Anne Kemble, p.200.)
Mrs. Kemble says, elsewhere in her journal, "Never forget in reading the details I send you, that the people on this plantation are well off, and consider themselves well off, in comparison with the slaves on some of the neighboring estates."