1 Focus Question A: How were slaves transported during the internal slave trade, and what prevented them from rebelling during this transportation? The Reverend Isaac Williams, on his Mother Sally s Experiences as a Slave IN the slave-coffle were about twenty men, with three women--sally, the young girl Charlotte and an old woman named Hagar, whom the speculator had bought at a bargain, and five small children. The men were chained together, two by two, but Hagar was docile from age and habit, and Charlotte from youth and inexperience, and there was a kind of dignity about Sally which made her new master dislike to put her in irons; so that, contrary to the usual custom, all three were left unshackled. The speculators rode in a light carriage, and a large wagon, drawn by horses, contained the baggage of the company. The children took turns in riding in the wagon, and now and then the privilege was extended to one of the women. What a hopeless company it was that dragged its weary way through the pine forests to the far southwest! All had been torn from home and friends, and were going every hour further from what they hold dear. Is it strange that their steps were slow, and that every gloomy and evil passion was aroused in their hearts? When the meal was over, the men were chained to the trunks of trees, and to the wheels of the wagon, and the women and children lay down beneath the shelter of the tent. So closely were they watched by the overseer, that they had little opportunity, to speak privately to each other
2 Focus Question A: How were slaves transported during the internal slave trade, and how were they prevented from rebelling during this transportation? Ben Simpson on the Internal Slave Trade Boss, I's born in Georgia, in Norcross, and I's ninety years old. My father's name was Roger Stielszen and my mother's name was Betty. Massa Earl Stielszen captures them in Africa and brung them to Georgia. He got kilt and my sister and me went to his son. His son was a killer. He got in trouble there in Georgia and got him two good-stepping hosses and the covered wagon. Then he chains all he slaves round the necks and fastens the chains to the hosses and makes them walk all the way to Texas, My mother and my sister had to walk. Emma was my sister. Somewhere on the road it went to snowin' and massa wouldn't let us wrap anything round our feet. We had to sleep on the ground, too, in all that snow. Massa have a great, long whip platted out of rawhide and when one the niggers fall behind or give out, he hit him with that whip. It take the hide every time he hit a n****r. Mother, she give out on the way, 'bout the line of Texas. Her feet got raw and bleedin' and her legs swoll plumb out of shape. Then massa, he jus' take out he gun and shot her, and whilst she lay dyin' he kicks her two, three times and say, Damn a n****r what can't stand nothin'. Boss, you know that man, he wouldn't bury mother. Jus' leave her lay in' where he shot her at. You know, then there wasn't no law 'gainst killin' n****r slaves.
3 Focus Question B: What role did the expansion of cotton cultivation play in the internal slave trade? Table 1: U.S. Production of All Types Of Raw Cotton, Year Pounds ,567, ,572, ,819, ,189, ,726, ,116, ,066,925, ,918,701,000 Table 2: Population of the Southern United States, Year Free Whites Slaves ,240, , ,691, , ,118,144 1,103, ,867,454 1,509, ,614,600 1,983, ,601,873 2,481, ,184,477 3,200, ,036,700 3,950,511
4 Focus Question B: What role did the expansion of cotton cultivation play in the internal slave trade? Solomon Northup Remembers Life on a Louisiana Cotton Plantation The hands are required to be in the cotton field as soon as it is light in the morning, and, with the exception of ten or fifteen minutes, which is given them at noon to swallow their allowance of cold bacon, they are not permitted to be a moment idle until it is too dark to see, and when the moon is full, they often times labor till the middle of the night. They do not dare to stop even at dinner time, nor return to the quarters, however late it be, until the order to halt is given by the driver. The day's work over in the field, the baskets are "toted," or in other words, carried to the gin- house, where the cotton is weighed. No matter how fatigued and weary he may be- - no matter how much he longs for sleep and rest- - a slave never approaches the gin- house with his basket of cotton but with fear. If it falls short in weight- - if he has not performed the full task appointed him, he knows that he must suffer. And if he has exceeded it by ten or twenty pounds, in all probability his master will measure the next day's task accordingly. So, whether he has two little or too much, his approach to the gin- house is always with fear and trembling. Most frequently they have too little, and therefore it is they are are not anxious to leave the field. After weighing, follow the whippings; and then the baskets are carried to the cotton house, and their contents stored away like hay, all hands being sent in to tramp it down. If the cotton is not dry, instead of taking it to the gin- house at once, it is laid upon platforms, two feet high, and some three times as wide, covered with boards or plank, with narrow walks running between them.
5 Focus Question C: Was slavery practiced differently in the older slave states than in the newer ones? Charles Ball Compares Slavery in Maryland and Georgia If the proprietors of the soil in Maryland and Virginia, were skillful cultivators- - had their lands in good condition- - and kept no more slaves on each estate, than would be sufficient to work the soil in a proper manner, and kept up the repairs of the place- - the condition of the coloured people would not be, by any means, a comparatively unhappy one. I am convinced, that in nine cases in ten, the hardships and suffering of the coloured population of lower Virginia, are attributable to the poverty and distress of its owners. In many instances, an estate scarcely yields enough to feed and clothe the slaves in a comfortable manner, without allowing any thing for the support of the master and family; but it is obvious, that the family must first be supported, and the slaves must be content with the surplus- - and this, on a poor, old, worn out tobacco plantation, is often very small, and wholly inadequate to the comfortable sustenance of the hands, and they are called. There, in many places, nothing is allowed to the poor Negro, but his peck of corn per week, without the sauce of a salt herring, or even a little salt itself... The general features of slavery are the same every where; but the utmost rigour of the system, is only to be met with, on the cotton plantations of Carolina and Georgia, or in the rice fields which skirt the deep swamps and morasses of the southern rivers. In the tobacco fields of Maryland and Virginia, great cruelties are practiced- - not so frequently by the owners, as by the overseers of the slaves; but yet, the tasks are not so excessive as in the cotton region, nor is the press of labour so incessant throughout the year. It is true, that from the period when the tobacco plants are set in the field, there is no resting time until it is housed; but it is planted out about the first of May, and must be cut and taken out of the field before the frost comes. After it is hung and dried, the labor of stripping and preparing it for the hogshead in leaf, or of manufacturing it into twist, is comparatively a work of leisure and ease. Besides, on almost every plantation the hands are able to complete the work of preparing the tobacco by January, and sometimes earlier; so that the winter months, form some sort of respite from the toils of the year. The people are obliged, it is true, to occupy themselves in cutting wood for the house, making rails and repairing fences, and in clearing new land, to raise the tobacco plants for the next year; but as there is usually time enough, and to spare, for the completion of all this, before the season arrives for setting the plants in the field... In Maryland I never knew a mistress or a young mistress, who would not listen to the complaints of the slaves. It is true, we were always obliged to approach the door of the mansion, with our hats in our hands, and the most subdued and beseeching language in our mouths- - but, in return, we generally received words of kindness, and very often a redress of our grievances... The mistresses of the great families, generally gave mild language to the slaves; though they sometimes sent for the overseer and have them severely flogged; but I have never heard any mistress, in either Maryland or Virginia, indulge in the low, vulgar and profane vituperations, of which I was myself the object, in Georgia, for many years, whenever I came into the presence of my mistress. Flogging- - though often severe and excruciating in Maryland, is not practiced with the order, regularity and system, to which it is often reduced in the South. On the Potomac, if a slave gives offence, he is generally chastised on the spot, in the field where he is at work, as the overseer always carried a whip- - sometimes a twisted cow- hide, sometimes a kind of horse- whip, and very often a simple hickory switch or gad, cut in the adjoining woods. For stealing meat, or other provisions, or for any of the higher offences, the slaves are stripped, tied up by the hands- - sometimes by the thumbs- - and whipped at the quarter- - but many times, on a large tobacco plantation, there is not more than one of these regular whippings in a week- - though on others, where the master happens to be a bad man, or a drunkard- - the back of the unhappy Maryland slaves, is seamed with scars from his neck to his hips.
6 Focus Question C: Was slavery practiced differently in the older slave states than in the newer ones?
7 Focus Question D: What effect did the internal slave trade have on slave families in the older, exporting slave states? Solomon Northup s Account of a New Orleans Slave Market The same man also purchased Randall. The little fellow was made to jump, and run across the floor, and perform many other feats, exhibiting his activity and condition. All the time the trade was going on, Eliza was crying aloud, and wringing her hands. She besought the man not to buy him, unless he also bought her self and Emily. She promised, in that case, to be the most faithful slave that ever lived. The man answered that he could not afford it, and then Eliza burst into a paroxysm of grief, weeping plaintively. Freeman turned round to her, savagely, with his whip in his uplifted hand, ordering her to stop her noise, or he would flog her. He would not have such work - such snivelling; and unless she ceased that minute, he would take her to the yard and give her a hundred lashes. Yes, he would take the nonsense out of her pretty quick - if he didn t, might he be d d. Eliza shrunk before him, and tried to wipe away her tears, but it was all in vain. She wanted to be with her children, she said, the little time she had to live. All the frowns and threats of Freeman, could not wholly silence the afflicted mother. She kept on begging and beseeching them, most piteously not to separate the three. Over and over again she told them how she loved her boy. A great many times she repeated her former promises - how very faithful and obedient she would be; how hard she would labor day and night, to the last moment of her life, if he would only buy them all together. But it was of no avail; the man could not afford it. The bargain was agreed upon, and Randall must go alone. Then Eliza ran to him; embraced him passionately; kissed him again and again; told him to remember her - all the while her tears falling in the boy s face like rain. Freeman dawned her, calling her a blubbering, bawling wench, and ordered her to go to her place, and behave herself; and be somebody. He swore he wouldn t stand such stuff but a little longer. He would soon give her something to cry about, if she was not mighty careful, and that she might depend upon. The planter from Baton Rouge, with his new purchases, was ready to depart. Don t cry, mama. I will be a good boy. Don t cry, said Randall, looking back, as they passed out of the door. What has become of the lad, God knows. It was a mournful scene indeed. I would have cried myself if I had dared.
8 Focus Question D: What effect did the internal slave trade have on slave families and communities in the older, exporting slave states? Charlottesville Oct 8th 1852 Dear Husband, Letter of Maria Perkins to her Husband I write you a letter to let you know of my distress my master has sold albert to a trader on Monday court day and myself and other child is for sale also and I want to you let hear from you very soon before next cort if you can I dont know when I dont want you to wait till Christmas I want you to tell dr Hamelton and your master if either will buy me they can attend to it know and then I can go afterwards. I dont want a trader to get me they asked me if I had got any person to buy me and I told them no they took me to the court house too they never put me up a man buy the name of brady bought albert and is gone I dont know whare they say he lives in Scottesville my things is in several places some is in staunton and if I should be sold I don t know what will become of them I dont expect to meet with the luck to get that way till I am quite heartsick nothing more I am and ever will be your kind wife Maria Perkins. To Richard Perkins
9 Focus Question E: What happened at slave auctions, and what role did these auctions play in the internal slave trade? Solomon Northup s Account of a New Orleans Slave Market The very amiable, pious-hearted Mr. Theophilus Freeman, partner or consignee of James H. Burch, and keeper of the slave pen in New-Orleans, was out among his animals early in the morning. With an occasional kick of the older men and women, and many a sharp crack of the whip about the ears of the younger slaves, it was not long before they were all astir, and wide awake. Mr. Theophilus Freeman bustled about in a very industrious manner, getting his property ready for the sales-room, intending, no doubt, to do that day a rousing business. In the first place we were required to wash thoroughly, and those with beards, to shave. We were then furnished with a new suit each, cheap, but clean. The men had hat, coat, shirt, pants and shoes; the women frocks of calico, and handkerchiefs to bind about their heads. We were now conducted into a large room in the front part of the building to which the yard was attached, in order to be properly trained, before the admission of customers. The men were arranged on one side of the room, the women on the other. The tallest was placed at the head of the row, then the next tallest, and so on in the order of their respective heights. Emily was at the foot of the line of women. Freeman charged us to remember our places; exhorted us to appear smart and lively, - sometimes threatening, and again, holding out various inducements. During the day he exercised us in the art of looking smart, and of moving to our places with exact precision Next day many customers called to examine Freeman s new lot. The latter gentleman was very loquacious, dwelling at much length upon our several good points and qualities. He would make us hold up our heads, walk briskly back and forth, while customers would feel of our hands and arms and bodies, turn us about, ask us what we could do, make us open our mouths and show our teeth, precisely as a jockey examines a horse which he is about to barter for or purchase. Sometimes a man or woman was taken back to the small house in the yard, stripped, and inspected more minutely. Scars upon a slave s back were considered evidence of a rebellious or unruly spirit, and hurt his sale.
10 Focus Question E: What happened at slave auctions, and what role did these auctions play in the internal slave trade? Henry Watson Recalls Being Sold at Auction I will attempt to give as accurate an account of the language and ceremony of a slave auction as I possibly can. "Gentlemen, here is a likely boy; how much? He is sold for no fault; the owner wants money. His age is forty. Three hundred dollars is all that I am offered for him. Please to examine him; he is warranted sound. Boy, pull off your shirt--roll up your pants--for we want to see if you have been whipped." If they discover any scars, they will not buy; saying that the nigger is a bad one. The auctioneer seeing this, cries, "Three hundred dollars, gentlemen, three hundred dollars. Shall I sell him for three hundred dollars? I have just been informed by his master, that he is an honest boy, and belongs to the same church that he does." This turns the tide frequently, and the bids go up fast; and he is knocked off for a good sum. After the men and women are sold, the children are put on the stand. I was the first put up. On my appearance, several voices cried, "How old is that little nigger?" On hearing this expression, I again burst into tears, and wept so that I have no distinct recollection of his answer. I was at length knocked down, to a man whose name was Denton, a slave trader, then purchasing slaves for the Southern market. His first name I have forgotten. Each one of the traders has private jails, which are for the purpose of keeping slaves in; and they are generally kept by some confidential slave. Denton had one of these jails, to which I was conducted by his trusty slave; and on entering I found a great many slaves there, waiting to be sent off as soon as their numbers increased
11 Focus Question F: What types of slaves were most often sold in the internal slave trade, and why? Minerva Davis Recalls her Father My father was sold in Richmond, Virginia when he was eighteen years old to the n****r traders. They had n****r traders and cloth peddlers and horse traders all over the country coming by every few weeks. Papa said he traveled to Tennessee. His job was to wash their faces and hands and fix their hair comb and cut and braid their hair and dress them to be auctioned off. They sold a lot of children from Virginia all along the way and he was put up in Tennessee and auctioned off. He was sold to the highest bidder. Bill Thomas at Brownsville, Tennessee was the one bought him. Papa was a large strong man.