November 14, 2018
History 121 MWF @ 10
Slave Narrative Project
Slave Narrative: Domestic Slave Trade
Many people are unaware of the horrors that slave life in the nineteenth century had endured. Laws in place, if the state even had them, provided no protection for slaves and usually backfired horrendously on them if they tried to do something about it. Once the domestic slave trade really got going it was like a giant snowball rolling down a hill, it only got worse. The domestic slave trade that was going on right in the United States started before the transatlantic slave trade ended, which ended up also being same time with the trade from Africa. “The slave trade become known as a period in which more Africans were forced here than in any two decades at once in North American history. The domestic trade displaced some 1.2 million men, women, and children, the clear majority of whom were born in America” . Following paper will show unfair laws put in place towards slaves of the interstate slave trade as well as the impact the trade had on African American family’s which would be being torn apart, cruel treatment/suffering. Some incorporated details from a true story of an escaped Virginian slave named Dinah will be added to show real life examples to gain an even more personalized perspective. So, what was the impact of interstate (domestic) slave trade during this time?
1790 to 1860 slaves were moved from Maryland, Virginia, Carolinas to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Since areas with plantations were growing in the south it made them have a want or higher demand for them to use as slave labor. So, plantation owners started to enslave and import them from Africa and then from Chesapeake, even kidnapping free kids. Which is what started interstate slave trade. John Hawkins in his documentary commented on this interstate slave trade saying “that the highest families in Virginia lived by this infamous traffic, a SLAVE TRADE; a slave trade far more cruel than the African; an organized system carried on between Virginia and the slave-consuming states of the South and West.” To show just how much it quickly caught on and began to spread “between 1830 and 1840 the number of slaves in Virginia underwent an actual diminution; but in 1844 came the annexation of Texas, followed by an increased demand for slaves for the South, and in 1850 the slave population in Virginia was found to have increased.’–Prof. Cairnes.
Dinah lost her mother as a baby and grew up with her grandparents. When she was 10 she started working in her masters’ house as his servant. She was abused often and usually very severe for very small reasons. She recounts the first time she was flogged with a cow-hide, “how the blood trickled down her back on to the soil, how her breath seemed to go from her, and how great was the pain when her bleeding back was washed with brine to prevent mortification. She was thus flogged because she answered her master back again,” . Still, just a child, but her master didn’t care and since her family was torn apart or dead she really had no-one. The interstate slave trade still allowed her to be mistreated because no laws really protected them. Here is an example of one of the laws they had that was supposedly to “protect slaves”. * ‘A negro shall be punished with stripes (not exceeding 39) if he uses provoking language or menacing gestures to a white man.’–Revised Code of Virginia, p. 754. Dinah as awful as her life had been, she was lucky in the sense she was able to be raised by her grandparents after her mother’s death instead of being separated like most children and families.
Francis Fedric who was a slave from Louisiana who got sold to Kentucky, says that when families heard they were going down the river everyone would turn into panic. He describes it as such “Men and women down on their knees begging to be purchased to go with their wives or husbands, … children crying and imploring not to have their parents sent away from them; but all their beseeching and tears were of no avail. They were ruthlessly separated, most of them forever.” No one seemed to have a heart, everyone bought a picked out solely on the thought of who is going to be the best bargain or who is worth my money. Keeping families together wasn’t a consideration. The thought of being separated from children or spouses had them constantly in a state of terror and plantation owners would even use it as means of punishment or bribery once they were already bought and working if somehow family members were able to stay together.
“Let us not, led by falsely-grounded sympathies or antipathies, refrain from protesting, at this important juncture against the BUYING AND SELLING OF SLAVES. Whatever else we may prefer to leave undone, surely we must all agree that this part of the slave system may and ought to be at once abandoned.” This goes to show how truly awful this was to African Americans if Caucasians from a different area are fighting to help you because even they know its immoral. The interstate slave trade was inhumane operation abusing innocent people. Laws not adequately adding up enough to even make a difference for slaves. And the traumatic experiences of being torn apart from the only thing you know. Along with the pain they endured and awful treatment.
Ball, Charles, and Fisher. Slavery in the United States: A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Charles Ball, a Black Man, Who Lived Forty Years in Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia, as a Slave under Various Masters and Was One Year in the Navy with Commodore Barney during the Late War ; Containing an Account of the Manners and Usages of the Planters and Slaveholders of the South–a Description of the Condition and Treatment of the Slaves With Observations upon the State of Morals amongst the Cotton Planters, and the Perils and Sufferings of a Fugitive Slave Who Twice Escaped from the Cotton Country. Pittsburgh: J.T. Shryock, 1853.
Simpson, John Hawkins. Horrors of the Virginian Slave Trade and of the Slave-rearing Plantations. Place of Publication Not Identified: Dodo Press, 2010.
“The Domestic Slave Trade.” AAME:. Accessed November 14, 2018. http://www.inmotionaame.org/print.cfm;jsessionid=f8302006761541670608236?migration=3&bhcp=1.