Monday, September 2, 2019

Moving West - Slavery - 1824-27 in Missouri

Gottfried Duden, Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America: Written during a stay of several years along the Missouri, 1824-1827.

Eyre Crowe (1824–1910) Slaves Waiting for Sale from 1853 sketch

MISSOURI WILDERNESS. June 1826. Slavery & Revenge

"In the western part of North America the population, in comparison to the amount of fertile, cheap land, is too sparse to permit anyone who either cannot or does not wish to be actively engaged in physical labor to carry on farming on a large scale without slaves. Even if one wants to supply one's own needs, domestic affairs would suffer because of the lack of whites who would have any desire to be hired for this purpose. But one who could decide to hire a slave would probably not hesitate to buy him.

"The usual price of a male slave from nineteen to thirty years of age is four to five hundred dollars. The price of a female slave is a third less. Sometimes there is a guarantee against running away; often not it is always advisable to take this into consideration.

"One who keeps slaves here has their living quarters near his own house. They do all the work that is done by domestic servants in Germany. It is in the master's self-interest to treat them with considera tion and to make their lot bearable. He encourages young slaves to marry so that they learn to like a regulated life. The children are also slaves and follow the mother if perhaps the father should have another master, which can easily be the case.

"It happens in the United States that male and female slaves try to avenge insults and mistreatment not only by running away but also by murdering one or more members of the family. Sometimes they resort to open violence, sometimes to poisoning. Only recently there was a case of the latter about twenty miles from here. A seventeen-year-old Negro girl wanted to poison the entire family. But the dose of arsenic was so large that it caused immediate vomiting and therefore the attempt failed...

"Such details, however, must not prejudice anyone against Negroes in general. There is no lack of gruesome deviation from nature among the whites either. I remember, among other things, that several years ago, on the Lower Rhine, a seven-year-old boy twice reduced an entlre village to ashes in revenge for a minor punishment (which some German law professors would attribute good-naturedly to a curious urge to see fire)."