The Under-Ground Railroad/Appendix
Slavery originated in a spirit of gain, by which it is alone sustained. It is thought the same agency is the only effectual method to overthrow it in the United States. If not the only effectual one, to my mind, it is certainly one that should not be overlooked by Abolitionists struggling against this gigantic evil; they should eagerly and earnestly lay hold of every-thing, and adopt every method consistent with Christianity, that would effect its final abolition. The profit derived from the culture of Cotton is the chief support of Slavery in the United States, for whatever shall prove available in making Slave labour unprofitable must of course cause the demand for that labour to cease. To accomplish this result by means of the cultivation of Cotton by free labour, should be the object of the friends of the Slave, not with motives to injure the Slaveholders, but to free the Slave. I doubt not but much more Cotton would be cultivated by the Slaves in a state of freedom than is now cultivated; it is quite obvious that a man will do a greater quantity of labour, and better in quality, by the stimulus of wages than by the force of the lash. If a white man is prompted to labour by the love of gain, it is very clear to my mind a black man will do the same; the love of gain is an innate principle of human nature, and is not therefore confined to any class or complexion of individuals; only assure them they will receive a just remuneration for their services there will be no lack for labourers.
Dr. Cooper, of South Carolina, in his letter on Political Economy, estimates the labour of a Slave at two-thirds of what a white labourer, at usual wages, would perform. Put a Slave in a condition of freedom with the white labourer, he would perform as much labour; consequently the demand for Cotton, both in the home and foreign markets, would be amply supplied with Cotton by free labour, whereas it is now supplied with Slave-grown Cotton.
The following will give the reader an approximate idea of the value of the Slaves in cash, and what the claimants annually realise from their labour.—I cut the following from the New Orleans Delta, a Slaveholding paper, published July 11, 1857:—
"The Slaves, numbering over three and a half millions; their value, at present prices, sixteen hundred millions of dollars. The Cotton Plantations at the South is estimated eighty thousand; the aggregate value of their annual products, at the present prices for Cotton, is fully one hundred and twenty millions of dollars. There are over fifteen thousand Tobacco Plantations, and their annual products may be valued at fourteen millions of dollars. There are two thousand and six hundred Sugar Plantations, the products of which average more than twelve millions of dollars. There are five hundred and fifty Rice Plantations, which yield an annual revenue of four millions of dollars."
The above evidence shows the Cotton by far exceeds all the other staple products in the Sunny South, both in number of farms and annual income. The number of Slaves engaged in the cultivation of each article is something like the following:
I have no doubt but the Foreign Slave Trade is quietly in operation in the United States; inof which I quote the New Orleans Delta, which declares most positively it is so:—"African Slaves are imported into Mississippi and other sea-shores. In Mississippi there is a market for African Slaves, and on Plantations in that great and intrepid State, Negroes annually imported from Africa are at their daily work."
These Africans are bought by the Planters, and you pay for them by paying for the Cotton they cultivate. The amount of mortality on those Plantations is alarming, known only to those who are conversant with them, the necessary results of being over-worked and under-fed; when so they are without legal redress; consequently the average life of the Slaves on the Cotton Farms is fourteen years, and on the Sugar Plantations seven years. Here is the sacrifice not only of comfort and happiness, which the Slaves have as good a right to enjoy as ourselves, but of life itself, simply to augment our happiness, and to promote the interest of the Owners. I have repeatedly seen Slaves ordered to the fields to work before it was sufficiently light to weed Cotton without cutting it up, and then flogged because they did cut it up, and work at night as long as they could see how to work, without injury to the plant, which is very tender, and must be treated accordingly. As to the regulation of labour, the laws make the following provision:—In South Carolina, "Whereas, many Owners of Slaves, and others who have the care, management, and overseeing of Slaves, do confine them so closely to hard labour that they have not sufficient time for natural rest, be it therefore enacted, that if any Owner of Slaves, or other persons who shall have the care, management, or overseeing of Slaves, shall work or put any such Slave or Slaves to labour more than fifteen hours in twenty-four hours, from the 25th day of September, or more than fourteen hours in 24 hours from the 25th day of September to the 25th day of March, any such person shall forfeit any sum not exceeding £20, nor under £5 current money, for every time he, she, or they shall offend therein, at the discretion of the Justice before whom the complaint shall be made."—2 Brevard's Digest, 243.
Georgia.—"Any Owner of a Slave, or Slaves, who shall cruelly treat such a Slave or Slaves by unnecessary or excessive whipping, by withholding proper food or nourishment, by requiring greater labour from such Slave or Slaves than he, she, or they may be able to perform, by not affording proper clothing, whereby the health of such Slave or Slaves may be injured or impaired, every such Owner or Owners of Slaves shall, upon sufficient information being laid before the Grand Jury, whereupon it shall be the duty of the Attorney or Solicitor General to prosecute said Owner or Owners, who, on conviction, shall be sentenced to pay a fine, or be imprisoned at the discretion of the Court."—Prence's Digest, 376.
These provisions are of no practical value to the Slaves whatever. The whole matter is a well-arranged systematic scheme of diabolical hypocrisy. No Slave, and no free person of colour can be a witness against a white person in any case. The Planters are not expected to prosecute each other for ill-treatment to the Slaves. The Overseers, who do the flogging and order the working, are not apt to inform against each other; depending, as they are, on the Planters for employment. Many of the Non-Slaveholding Whites at the South are a servile and degraded class, like the Overseers, depending upon the Slaveholder for labour to support their families; therefore they dare not inform against the abuser and have him brought to justice. In the name of God and outraged humanity, how is the Slave to have redress under such circumstances. It follows, they may be worked any number of hours in the day at the will of the drivers, Sundays not excepted, and in all kinds of weather. I have repeatedly seen them working on the Sabbath, especially in planting Tobacco, as this must be done in rainy seasons, and in the spring of the year; should it rain on Saturday night the Slaves are ordered out in the field on Sunday morning to set the plant. The first gang of Slaves I ever remember seeing at work on Sunday was on a Tobacco Plantation; my young and untutored mind revolted at the sight; but by frequent repetitions of the scene I soon became inured to it Familiarity with sin tends to harden the human heart, and blunt the moral sensibilities.
The same hypocritical provision is made relative to the food of the slaves:—", Every owner shall be held to give his slave the quantity of provision hereinafter specified, to wit,—one barrel of Indian corn, or the equivalent thereof in rice, beans, or other grain, and a pint of salt; and to deliver the same to the Slaves in kind every month, and never in money, under a penalty of ten dollars for every offence."—Martin's Digest, p. 610.
You see there is no meat, sugar, coffee, or tea, mentioned in this act. This barrel of corn is in the ear as it comes from the field. When shelled, it amounts to one bushel and a half, or forty-eight quarts, which is to last a slave one month, with one pint of salt; allowing thirty days for a month, would be equal to one quart and three-fifths per day. This is to be reduced to meal, which would be a little more than a pint per day. With this they must work fifteen hours per day one part of the year, and fourteen hours another. The prisoners in the state prisons, whether for life or a shorter period of time, are fed on substantial food, and quite sufficient in quantity, three times a day; and seldom, if ever, are required to labour more than ten or twelve hours per day. Though this Act mentions no meat, I have known the planters to allow the hands from a pound to a pound and a half of meat per week. Many not having utensils in which to cook, broil it on coals of fire; put it with a morsel of bread into gourds; take it to the field, which is to last them all day. Mothers, two weeks after child-birth, must be in the field making a full hand, in many instances putting her child in the shade of a tree, permitted to nurse it twice a day, though it may cry from the sting of insects. She may plead for permission to nurse it; the overseer may grant it, or he may not; if so, it is considered very kind of him indeed. Reader, bring this matter home to your own heart, then think and feel for the Slave. Thus he suffers to cultivate Cotton for your benefit as well as others. I could write volumes on the plantation life of Slaves, which I have said nothing about in my book, because it was foreign from my subject. Ye mothers of England, can you do anything at this distance to alleviate the condition of your sisters on those cotton plantations in that Country? Can you pour the oil of joy into their hearts? Cease as soon as practicable the use of Cotton bathed in their tears, chasing each other down their sorrow-worn cheeks; then you will have snatched the bloody lash from the hand of the wicked driver and dashed it into a thousand pieces. The gory wounds now bleeding while I write will be joyfully healed with the oil of gladness from your hands. You will have sealed up the fountain of tears which for centuries has been opened; you will have placed your sisters in a position where their chastity can be protected as yours now is; you will have struck the death-blow to this giant evil. I appeal to you because you can do much in this matter. I appeal to you because the Slave cannot. I plead the cause of the widow and the orphan. "I open my mouth for the dumb." The power of turning the scale against the tyrants and in favour of freedom, commercially speaking, is in the reach of England's mighty grasp. England is depending on America for Cotton. Millions of her people are employed by means of it. The existence of thousands hangs upon this feeble thread. It is with the Slaves whether they shall live or die; it is with the Slaves in the United States whether they shall walk the streets of this beautiful country perfect vagabonds, or be employed in making an honest living. Suppose the Slaves were to cease cultivating Cotton unless they were paid for it, which they have a perfect right to do, what would become of millions now depending on them for a living, who are employed in manufacturing the raw material which they cultivate? What would the capitalists do in Lancashire? Their large manufactories must be closed; your streets would be filled with beggars, the dying and the dead. The very moment the Slave declares in the strength of his God he will cultivate Cotton no longer without wages, England's commercial operation must cease; starvation would pervade the land; her mighty ships, the mistress of the seas, would be compelled to haul down their sails. The whole country would be literally clothed in sackcloth and ashes. You may say it is not likely the Slaves will do so. I think it very probable, God may raise up another John Brown more successful than the former. The Slaves have attempted, in another State, since John Brown's death, to break their chains. With half a million of free coloured persons in the United States, daily growing in wealth and intelligence, one in interest and feeling with their suffering brethren in the south, a large portion of whom emigrated from the Slave states, who are willing at a moment's warning, when necessary, to place themselves at the head of four millions of Slaves, and with the incidental aid of sixty thousand in Canada, in defiance of their dastardly claimants, would lead them to the very borders of Canada. With this view of the subject, say not it is impossible or improbable. I speak of it not as a scene to be desired, but one within the range of human probabilities. "The chains of the Slave will be broken, let the hammer come from heaven or hell." Let England extricate herself from this awful dilemma. If the Cotton crops fail in the United States by any means whatever, let it be their own failure, and not England's; but now such a failure would affect England as well as America! Let Britain become self-supporting respecting Cotton, by cultivating free-labour Cotton; besides, she would free the Slaves thus engaged in the cultivation of this article. To emancipate one million would be a death-blow to the entire system.
It is no longer a question whether free labour is cheaper than Slave labour, or whether England has soil to produce it or not: but what is the best plan to accomplish the desired object. I am glad to learn from the last report of the Cotton Supply Association of Manchester, that the subject is eliciting the attention of members of both Houses of Parliament, and has obtained the assistance of the chief department of Her Majesty's Government, the British Consuls in foreign ports are giving the scheme their attention and kind consideration. It is quite pleasing, in one respect, to see the Cotton crops have only doubled in twenty years. For the benefit of those who may read this book, and may not read the report, I extract from it the following:—"We must point to the fact, although in 1840 the Crop of the United States was 2,177,835 bales, and in 1860 it may reach 4,500,000 bales, the growth has only been doubled in twenty years. While the number of spindles employed in this country, and on the Continent was, in 1840, 27,266,000, but in 1860, 69,642,000. In other words, while the increase of growth has been doubled, owing to the high prices of almost exclusive markets; the increase of spindles has more than doubled by the enormous addition of 15,110,000, requiring an additional one million bales to give them employment, The position of the trade is therefore, in 1860, so far as America is concerned, worse by one million bales than it was in the year 1840. It is not necessary to allude to the numerous places that produce Cotton both in Her Majesty's dominions and beyond them; nor is it yet necessary to refer to what has been expended and experiments tried in the cultivation of this article, as they are before the public by other and more able pens than mine. I have spoken of Cotton because it is the giant support of Slavery, but I am quite in favour of ceasing to use all Slave-labour produce as soon as practicable. Cubian Sugar, which is so extensively used in England, and is the production of Slave-labour, not only does she support Slavery by its use, but the Slave-trade also. It is supposed from 80,000 to 40,000 Slaves are imported into Cuba annually, who are engaged in the cultivation of Sugar thus used. May God hasten the day when Slavery shall be no more!
RICHARD PRIDDY, PRINTER, 85, NEW STREET BIRMINGHAM.