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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/533

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Southern and Western slave States had been met. For a while there was some surreptitious importation, which in a small way continued down to the middle of this century, but this smuggling was quite insufficient to supply the market of the new States with slaves. The result was that the border slaveholding States became to a considerable extent the breeding grounds for men and women who were to be at maturity exported to the great plantations of Alabama and Mississippi, there to be herded by overseers in gangs of hundreds, with no hope of ever returning to their kindred. With this interdiction of the foreign slave trade the evils of the former situation became magnified into horrors. The folk who were brought from Africa came from a state of savagery to one of relative comfort. When once adjusted to their new conditions, their lot was on the whole greatly bettered. But their descendants, who had become attached to the places where they were born with the peculiar affection the better of them had for their homes, being accustomed to masters who on the whole were gentle, were now to undergo a worse deportation than that which made them slaves. It is not too much to say that the deeper evils of the system to the slaves themselves, as well as to their masters, began with this miserable slave trade that went on within the limits of this country, and was about at its height when the civil war began.

It can not be denied that even in the best stages of slaveholding there had been a good deal of commerce in slaves where the feelings of these chattels were in no wise regarded. Still, there was a prevailing sentiment among all the slaveholders of the gentler sort that it was in a way disgraceful to part families. I distinctly recall, when I was a lad, some years before the civil war, my maternal grandfather often charged me to remember that I came of a people who had never bought or sold a slave except to keep families together. I know that this was a common feeling among the better men of Kentucky and Virginia, and that the practice of rearing negroes for the Southern market filled them with sorrow and indignation. Yet the change was the inevitable result of the system and of the advancing commercialism which separated the plantation life more and more from that of the owner's household. At the time when the civil war began the institution of slavery was, from the commercial point of view, eminently successful. Notwithstanding the occasional appearance of the spendthrift slave owner in Northern pleasure resorts or in Europe, the great plantations were generally in charge of able business men, who won a large interest on their investments and who were developing the system of planting in a way which, though