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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/538

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

their masters for a century or more. Such servants had rights that none could dispute. Not uncommonly their elders were the actual rulers of the establishment. These family slaves often received some little schooling, even when the laws forbade that slaves should be taught to read and write. The children of the household servants were allowed freely to play with those of their masters until the young people were about twelve years old. The boys of both often had their rough-and-tumble games together until they were young men. The field laborers, where the class was separate, had less perfect connection with their masters. They usually came to the family storeroom for the daily issued rations, which they received from the hands of the mistress or the daughter of the house. They were visited when sick, and their complaints were heard. They were free to all of the many festivities of the holiday time.

It is impossible to conceive of a more effective schooling for the African people than was given this adoption into the households, and often into the hearts, of high-minded masters. A like opportunity never before came and will never again come to so lowly a folk. The effect of this educative contact with the superior race is, as before noted, to be seen in the temper of the negroes during and after the civil war. Upon the high-minded master the effect of the institution was in many ways enlarging. A man is morally what his cares have made him, and of these the dutiful slaveholder has more than an average share. He grew in the power of command and in the habit of doing justice to many fellow-beings. He lived a large life. The qualities bred of his station have been of profit to his folk and time. All this is true of slavery of the domestic sort. It is not so in like manner of the great plantations which came with the development of the cotton and sugar industries. It was characteristic of the northern part of the South until it began to be the place of supply for the rapidly developing plantation district.

So long as the negro could look forward to life in the place and with the people of his birth his simple, careless nature opened to him little to bring a sense of danger. He was to live on until he passed in to the Elysium of the hereafter, of which he had no doubt whatever. Gradually there came, in the overcrowding of the farms and the diminishing fertility of the wasted land, the need of reducing the number of slaves. Then each year came the dreaded visits of the "trader," who was like a visible angel of death, to lead one or more into the far unknown country. Before the plantation demand for slaves began there were, of course, sales of slaves, but they commonly went as families, and not to places to them inconceivably remote. These could hope for Christmas