Southern Slavery As It Was
By Douglas Wilson & Steven Wilkins
Edited by Doug Wilson
“I hear screaming, and bullwhips cracking
And how long, how long?” — Neil Young, “Southern Man”
The South has long carried the stigma of racism and bigotry. The fact that slavery ended abruptly because the South lost the War serves to reinforce this common stereotype. For this reason, most Southerners take little pride in their nation’s role in the War Between the States. The only thing they can boast about is how well they fought — but they are not allowed to defend the cause itself. They have been told that they cannot talk of principle or speak of righteousness. The institution of slavery has so blackened the Southern position that nothing about the South can be viewed as good or right. Slavery is considered to be such a wicked practice that it alone is sufficient to answer the question of which side was right in that unfortunate war. The fact that the South practiced slavery is enough to cause many moderns to feel they do not even have to listen to the various biblical and constitutional arguments that swirled around that controversy. Consequently, to have a closed mind on this issue is to be cloaked in virtue.
How could men have supported slavery? The question is especially difficult when we consider that these were men who lived in a pervasively Christian culture. We have all heard of the heartlessness — the brutalities, immoralities, and cruelties — that were supposedly inherent in the system of slavery. We have heard how slave families were broken up, of the forcible rape of slave women, of the brutal beatings that were a commonplace, about the horrible living conditions, and of the unrelenting work schedule and back-breaking routine — all of which go together to form our impression of the crushing oppression which was slavery in the South. The truthfulness of this description has seldom been challenged.
The point of this small booklet is to establish that this impression is largely false. It is important to note, however, that the impression is not entirely false. The truth is, Southern slavery is open to criticism because it did not follow the biblical pattern at every point. Some of the state laws regulating slavery could not be defended biblically (the laws forbidding the teaching of reading and writing, for example). One cannot defend the abuse some slaves had to endure. None can excuse the immorality some masters and overseers indulged in with some slave women. The separation of families that sometimes occurred was deplorable. These were sad realities in the Southern system.
Our purpose here is not to defend any such practices — where and when they occurred. We have no interest in defending the racism (in both the North and the South) which was often seen as the basic justification for the system, and we do in fact condemn it most heartily.1 But the question still needs to be asked, “How widespread were these instances of unbiblical and ungodly treatment on the part of Southern slave holders?” We have condemned such abuses, but were they commonplace or exceptional?
Our concern is first to lay out certain biblical principles, and then turn to facts which are seldom addressed in public, though they are not altogether unknown. An accurate representation of the nature of Southern slavery has yet to be widely disseminated. And as a consequence, there has been a great deal of falsehood paraded about in the pretense of truth. The South has been stigmatized and slandered, and generations have been misled over the true nature of the “peculiar institution” and, as a consequence, they have not understood the true nature of the South in general. We must know the truth about slavery. We have no concern to whitewash the sins of the South — or the North, for that matter. Where there is sin, let us freely confess and forsake it. But because we have resolved to abandon sin, this must include the sin of believing a lie.
So Why Are We Writing About This?
In the mid-seventies, American evangelicals began to wake up to the fact that our culture was beginning to tumble down around our ears. In 1973 the Supreme Court had ruled that it was unconstitutional for the various states to outlaw the dismemberment of the unborn. Men like Francis Schaeffer were used by God to rattle the pervasive evangelical complacency and to make us realize the ramifications of what was occurring — and what was coming.
So a significant minority of the evangelical church began to mobilize and plunged into a cultural war for which we were woefully unprepared. All we knew was that they had begun to kill babies. How can they do that? This was America.
As the political battle began to take shape, the lack of historical perspective among evangelicals became more and more manifest. This lack of historical understanding was harmful in two ways — and in both ways the integrity of God’s Word was attacked.
The first was the result of the attempt by evangelicals to portray the pro-life movement as a modern form of abolitionism. We were taught that earlier Christian social “reformers” like Charles Finney were ardent abolitionists, and we pro-lifers were walking in their footsteps. We were taught that Roe v. Wade was comparable to the Dred Scott decision. And so we argued and talked and marched accordingly. The only problem was . . . it wasn’t true. For the sake of a convenient argument against the monstrosity of abortion, we abandoned the clear teaching of the Bible on another subject — how slavery was to be understood.
Suppose a man presented himself for membership in your church. Upon inquiring as to what he did for a living, you learned that he was an abortionist. Should he be admitted into membership. Of course not.
Now suppose this same church was moved back in time, and a man presented himself for membership along with three of his slaves. Now what do you do? If he is admitted to membership, then it is clear that abortion and slavery are not considered analogous. And if he is refused membership, then what are you going to do when he (his name was Philemon) goes back and tells the apostle Paul what you did to him?
It is obvious that in a fallen world, an institution like slavery will be accompanied by many attendant evils. Such evils existed with ancient Hebrew slavery, ancient Roman slavery, and with American slavery. The issue is not whether sinners will sin, but rather how Christians are commanded to respond to such abuses and evils. And nothing is clearer — the New Testament opposes anything like the abolitionism of our country prior to the War Between the States. The New Testament contains many instructions for Christian slave owners, and requires a respectful submissive demeanor for Christian slaves. See, for example, Ephesians 6:5–9, Colossians 3:22—4:1, and 1 Timothy 6:1–5.
But we mentioned that the harm was two-fold. The embarrassment of evangelicals over the plain teaching of the Bible can be put to an adept use by those in rebellion against God. Dr. Jerry Falwell was once in a television debate with a liberal Episcopalian bishop. Sad to say, the liberal bishop mauled Dr. Falwell badly. They were debating an issue like abortion or sodomy, and Falwell was maintaining the biblical position, and the bishop responded by saying yes, but the Bible allows for slavery.
Now what was Falwell going to do on national television? Does he say that the bishop is correct, the Bible does allow for slavery, and that he has no problem with it? We can see the headlines now. Or perhaps he could say that the bishop was wrong — but the good bishop was right. So he did the only thing he could do, which was to hem and haw.
One time a man was handing out tracts at a gay and lesbian dance. Those attending the dance did not appear to be pleased, and someone apparently called a liberal Methodist pastor to come and deal with him. He came down, and in the course of the discussion, the Christian said that Leviticus condemns homosexuality as an abomination. The liberal pastor responded by saying yes, but the Old Testament allowed for slavery. The Christian responded by saying yes, it certainly did. “So what’s your point?”
If those who hate the Word of God can succeed in getting Christians to be embarrassed by any portion of the Word of God, then that portion will continually be employed as a battering ram against the godly principles that are currently under attack. In our day, three of the principle issues are abortion, feminism, and sodomy. If we respond to the “embarrassing parts” of Scripture by saying, “That was then, this is now,” we will quickly discover that liberals can play that game even more effectively than embarrassed conservatives. Paul prohibited eldership to women? That was then, this is now. Moses condemned sodomy? That was then, this is now.
In a certain sense, we are backing into an informed discussion of the War Between the States. You have been told many times that the war was over slavery, but in reality it was over the biblical meaning of constitutional government. The inflammatory issue is slavery, however, and so the real issue is obscured in the minds of many.
But is this not curious? The reason why many Christians will be tempted to dismiss the arguments presented in this booklet is that we will say (out loud) that a godly man could have been a slave owner. But this “inflammatory” position is the very point upon which the Bible speaks most directly, again and again. In other words, more people will struggle with what we are saying at the point where the Bible speaks most clearly. There is no exegetical vagueness here. Not only is the Bible not politically correct, it was not politically correct one hundred thirty years ago.
This points to the need for Christians to learn the biblical way of avoiding “problem texts.” This is the way of a priori submission. Christians must recognize that they are under the authority of God, and they may not develop their ideas of what is “right” and “fair” apart from the Word of God. And when the Bible is our only standard of right and wrong, problem texts disappear. This entire issue of slavery is a wonderful issue upon which to practice. Our humanistic and democratic culture regards slavery in itself as a monstrous evil, and it acts as though this were self-evidently true. The Bible permits Christians to own slaves, provided they are treated well. You are a Christian. Whom do you believe?
A Brief Overview
In the early nineteenth century, the intellectual leadership of the North apostatized from their previous cultural commitment to the Christian faith. The watershed event in this regard was the capture of Harvard by the Unitarians in 1805. This cultural apostasy was not nearly as advanced in the South, although there were some signs of it. By the time of the War, the intellectual leadership of the South was conservative, orthodox, and Christian. In contrast, the leadership of the North was radical and Unitarian. This is not to say there were no Christians in the North, or that no believers fought for the North. It is simply the recognition that the drums of war were being beaten by the abolitionists, who were in turn driven by a zealous hatred of the Word of God.
As an aside, it is interesting to note the revival that took place in the Confederate army during the War. It was so widespread that it has been estimated that (with the possible exception of Cromwell’s army) the Confederate Army was the largest body of evangelicals under arms in the history of the world.
This of course raises the obvious question — if the South was so “right” and “Christian” as all that, then why did she lose the War? Didn’t God know how right the South was?
We must reject the childish mentality which seeks to engage in mindless partisanship at the expense of truth. All attempts to say that the North represented nothing good, and that the South contained nothing sinful are examples of this kind of infantilism. R.L. Dabney, a godly man who fought for the South, made the point that the South lost the war because she was under the judgment of God. When northern Israel led the way in rebellion against God, the conservatism of southern Judah did not avoid final apostasy, but simply traveled that path more slowly than Israel to the north. In a similar way, the South had not been entirely free from the various currents of unbelief. Although the South stood for much that was admirable, the biblical principle remains — to whom much is given, much is required. And although the South was correct about the central issues of that War, southern diehards must learn the hard lesson of Habbakuk, who had to accept that God can use an ungodly nation to judge another nation which is “not as bad” (Hab. 1:13).
Some Christians balk at having a sympathetic view of the South because they know that racism is evil. This following is a very important point to emphasize. Like abolitionism, all forms of race hatred or racial vainglory are forms of rebellion against God. Such things are to be vigorously opposed because the Word of God opposes them. In brief, God has raised up all nations from one man (Acts 17:26). We are all cousins. And not only are the races connected through God’s creation of Adam, we are united (this time in harmony) in the redemption purchased by the Son of God. “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9–10).
We must remember that the leadership of the early church at Antioch contained at least one black man (Acts 13:1). And what happened to Miriam when she opposed the marriage of Moses to a black woman (Num. 12)? As Christians, we regard the gift at Pentecost to be a great reversal of Babel, and we believe that our missionary efforts will result in the elimination of racial hatreds in Christ.
Because of a strong popular bigotry against the South, it is necessary for us to assert as strongly as we can that racism and sympathy for the Southern cause are not necessary companions. Rather, when biblically understood, they are antithetical. Because of this, economic death of slavery in our nation would have been hastened had there been more widespread obedience to the Word of God on the part of everyone — abolitionists, slaves, and slave owners. So whenever true racism appears (North, South, East, or West), or whenever it appears (this century or the last), it must be opposed by consistent Christians. But this does not require us to be ignorant of the great theological and cultural issues that were at stake in the War. This is necessary because these same issues are with us today.
Sodomites parade in the streets, claiming that if we do not appropriate more money to study why people with foul sexual habits get sick, we are somehow violating their civil rights. Feminists, in rebellion against God, invert the order of the home established by God. They do so in a way that seeks to rob women of their beauty in submission and their security in being loved. For two decades, we have seen millions of unborn children slaughtered in abortion clinics. How did we get here, and what is the way out? The question cannot be answered fully without careful study of the War Between the States and the controversies surrounding it. Slavery was one of those controversies.
The Bible’s View of Slavery
The Bible is not silent on the subject of slavery. We must be careful, however, if we use the phrase biblical slavery. What do we mean by it? A common confusion blurs an important distinction between Hebrew slavery — i.e. slavery in a nation covenanted with God, with laws received from His hand — and the slavery seen in the pages of the New Testament. In the former, we see how God’s laws govern and regulate the practice of slavery in a nation called by His name. In the latter, we see God’s laws as they teach His people how to live within a culture having ungodly laws concerning slavery. In the Roman Empire the system of slavery was, along with the rest of that culture, in rebellion against the true and living God. In the Hebrew republic, slavery was akin to indentured servanthood — the only permanent slaves were foreigners (Lev. 25:44–46) or Hebrews who voluntarily submitted themselves to a more permanent servile status (Ex. 21:5–6). But in the Greco/Roman world, the system of slavery was pagan from top to bottom, with the slaves having virtually no recognized rights at all. So a vast difference exists between the laws God gave to His covenant people for the regulation of slavery among themselves, and the laws God gave to His covenant people to regulate their conduct in the midst of a pagan system.
When we ask the question whether slavery in the South was a biblical slavery, the answer must consequently be yes and no. Was the South a nation in covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ? Had it undertaken formally to conform all its laws, including its laws on slavery, to the laws of Scripture? The answer is clearly no: the South was not a Christian utopia. If, however, we ask whether the South contained many conscientious Christians, both slave-owning and enslaved, who endeavored to follow the requirements of Scripture set down in the New Testament for believers in slave-holding societies, then the answer is yes. Not surprisingly, the large number of these believers in the Old South did have the effect of “Christianizing” it. This means that the system of slave-holding in the South was far more humane than that of ancient Rome, although the Christian church had not yet had the full influence that God intends His kingdom to have in the world. The discipleship of the nations is a process. This means that the South was (along with all other nations) in transition from a state of pagan autonomy to a full submission to the Lordship of Christ. Christian influence in the South was considerable and extensive, but we must acknowledge that the laws of the South fell short of the biblical pattern. In acknowledging this, however, we must remember that the Christian and Reformed influence on ante bellum Southern culture was far more extensive than anywhere else in the world. Nevertheless, God’s law does not grade on a curve, and Southern sanctification fell short of the biblical standard at a number of points. This is why someone like R.L. Dabney could maintain the justice of the Southern cause, and at the same time acknowledge that the South lost the war because of her sins. “A righteous God, for our sins toward Him, has permitted us to be overthrown by our enemies and His.”2
When we turn to individuals and families, the situation is very different. The abolitionists maintained that slave-owning was inherently immoral under any circumstance. But in this matter, the Christians who owned slaves in the South were on firm scriptural ground. May a Christian own slaves, even when this makes him a part of a larger pagan system which is not fully scriptural, or perhaps not scriptural at all? Provided he owns them in conformity to Christ’s laws for such situations, the Bible is clear that Christians may own slaves.
Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed. And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things. If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing . . . (1 Tim. 6:1–4a).
The slavery of Rome was anti-scriptural, and because of the evil of the slave trade, the larger system of slavery in the South was certainly sub-scriptural. Nevertheless, the Bible prohibits us from saying that slave-owning in such contexts is sin.
The Bible teaches that a man may be a faithful Christian and a slave-owner in a pagan slave system. If he owns slaves, then Scripture does put a series of requirements on him, which the church of Christ may and must insist upon. But beyond those requirements, the church may not presume to legislate.
Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him (Eph. 6:5–9).
Paul says something very similar elsewhere (Col. 3:22–4:1). As far as the apostle was concerned, nothing can be plainer than the fact that a Christian could simultaneously be a slave owner and a member in good standing in a Christian church.
The authors of this small booklet are both pastors, and for us many of the issues become clear if the proper question is asked. Today if an abortionist sought membership at either of our churches, he would be refused unless he repented and abandoned his murderous practice. But if our churches had existed in the ante bellum South, and a godly slave owner sought membership, we could not refuse him without seeking to be holier than Christ. Such a desire would be wicked, and this wickedness was at the heart of the abolitionist dogma.
The most plausible argument against slavery comes from the acknowledged wickedness of the slave trade. For example, Gary DeMar has recently argued that because the Bible prohibits man-stealing (Ex. 21:16; 1 Tim. 1:10), Christians could not consistently participate at any point in a process that resulted from the man-stealing. “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death” (Ex. 21:16).3
Before discussing whether slave-owning in itself constitutes an indirect support of this capital offense, we should first ask if believers in the South engaged in direct opposition to this evil. Here, the answer is clearly in the affirmative. R.L. Dabney, in his Defense of Virginia and the South, begins his chapter on the slave trade with these words: “This iniquitous traffick . . .”4 The duty of southern Christians was clear — they had to oppose the slave trade. They did so, fervently and zealously. Dabney’s vehement attack on the slave trade was representative of many others.
Were they hypocrites in this opposition because they raised the cry against the slave trade while indirectly supporting that trade by owning slaves? Not at all. The Bible defines hypocrisy. Remember that in ancient Rome the acquisition of slaves was not according to the law of God either. A Christian slave owner in that system, like Philemon, was duty-bound to oppose those features of that society, and at the same time was required to treat his slaves in a gracious and thoughtful manner. He was not required to release his individual slaves because of the general societal disobedience. He was not even required to release his slaves if they came into the Christian faith (1 Tim. 6:1–4). At the same time he should have acknowledged that his believing slaves were now Christ’s freemen, and they should take any opportunity for freedom provided for them (1 Cor. 7:20).
Secondly, we must also remember that the consequences and ramifications of the African slave trade went far beyond the situation described in Exodus 21. In that situation, when the kidnapper was discovered, he would be tried and executed, and the one kidnapped would be restored to his home. The issues were simple and clear. With the slave trade, the vast majority of the slaves had already been enslaved in Africa by other blacks. They were then taken down to the coast and sold to the traders. The traders transported them, usually under wicked conditions, to those places where a market did exist for their labor, but where the civil leaders had repeatedly and consistently tried to stop the slave traders.5 One of those places, Virginia, had attempted on no less than twenty-eight occasions to arrest the slave trade, but was stopped by higher (non-Southern) authorities. If the slaves were not sold in the South, they were taken on to Haiti and Brazil, where the condition and treatment of slaves was simply horrendous.6 The restoration of these slaves to their former condition was a physical impossibility. Now, under these conditions, was it a sin for a Christian to purchase such a slave, knowing that he would take him home and treat him the way the Bible requires? If he did not do so, nothing would be done to improve the slave’s condition, and much could happen that would make it worse. The slaves were not stolen cars; they were human beings — and the many Christians who treated them lawfully were in no way disobedient.
The requirements for godly treatment of slaves by individual masters is clearly laid out in the Bible. The requirements for a godly prohibition of man-stealing on the part of the magistrate is also required in the Bible. On both the counts, southern Christians distinguished themselves in carefully seeking to implement both requirements. Their personal treatment of slaves is indicated in the rest of this booklet. Their political agitation for a godly abolition of the slave trade was equally notable. Virginia was the first commonwealth in the world to outlaw the practice, and this after many previous unsuccessful attempts. Dabney said it well. “Virginia has the honour of being the first Commonwealth on earth to declare against the African slave trade, and to make it a penal offense. Her action antedates by thirty years the much bepraised legislation of the British parliament, and by ten years the earliest movement of Massachusetts on the subject. . .”7 In 1771, Virginia appealed to the King to stop the trade, saying that they had long regarded it as a practice of “great inhumanity.” In 1778, Virginia prohibited the introduction of slaves into their state. Georgia was the first state to write a prohibition of the slave trade into its constitution. And we must remember that the Confederate Constitution outlawed the slave trade (Art. I/Section 9).
In contrast, the slave trade by New Englanders and Northeasterners continued illegally until 1861. “As late as 1861 the Congress of the United States was appropriating nearly two million dollars in an effort to stamp it [i.e. the illegal slave trade] out.”8
The slave trade was an abomination. The Bible condemns it, and all who believe the Bible are bound to do the same. Owning slaves is not an abomination. The Bible does not condemn it, and those who believe the Bible are bound to refrain in the same way. But if we were to look in history for Christians who reflected this biblical balance — i.e. a hatred of the slave trade and an acceptance of slavery in itself under certain conditions — we will find ourselves looking at the ante bellum South.
To conclude this point, Dabney is worth quoting again.
It is one of the strange freaks of history, that this commonwealth, which was guiltless in this thing, and which always presented a steady protest against the enormity, should become, in spite of herself, the home of the largest number of African slaves found within any of the States, and thus, should be held up by Abolitionists as the representative of the sin of slaveholding; while Massachusetts, which was, next to England, the pioneer and patroness of the slave trade, and chief criminal, having gained for her share the wages of iniquity instead of the persons of the victims, has arrogated to herself the post of chief accuser of Virginia.9
To say the least, it is strange that the thing the Bible condemns (slave-trading) brings very little opprobrium upon the North, yet that which the Bible allows (slave-ownership) has brought down all manner of condemnation upon the South.10
The simplistic understanding of the relationship of slavery to the War for Southern Independence must be rejected. As George Lunt noted in 1866, “Slavery was the cause of the War, just as property is the cause of robbery.”11
The True Nature of Slavery in the South
If slavery had been as bad as the abolitionists maintained that it was, and as we have been reminded countless times on supposedly good authority, then why were there not thousands of rabid abolitionists demanding an end to the evil? Or, even more to the point, why were there not hundreds of slave rebellions? These questions have not been asked often or loudly enough. The answer would shock and dismay the vast majority of our nation who have been carefully schooled in abolitionist propaganda. As we have already mentioned, the “peculiar institution” of slavery was not perfect or sinless, but the reality was a far cry from the horrific descriptions given to us in modern histories, which are often nothing more than a hackneyed reworking of abolitionist propaganda.
Judge George L. Christian observed,
In the first place slavery, as it existed in the South, was patriarchal in its character; the slaves (servants, as we called them) were regarded and treated as members of the families to which they severally belonged; with rare exceptions, they were treated with kindness and consideration, and frequently the relations between the slave and his owner, were those of real affection and confidence.12
Prior to the War, the South was visited many times by journalists from the North, as well as from Europe. The purpose of their visits was to send back first-hand reports on the nature of the South in general, and of slavery in particular. In the 1840s the Englishman, Sir Charles Lyell, traveled through the nation and published the results of his observations in Travels in North America in the Years 1841–1842. Lyell’s description of slavery as it operated in the South was widely publicized in the North and pointedly contradicted the abolitionist propaganda. Lyell noted the remarkable affection that existed between master and slave, and on the fact that he found the slaves “better fed than a large part of the laboring class of Europe.” There were no whips, chains, or accounts of gross mistreatment in Lyell’s picture. To Lyell, slavery was a mild, kindly, if inefficient and uneconomical, institution.
This view was confirmed by others including fellow Britisher, the Earl of Carlisle, James Strictland, and prominently by the American northerner, Frederick Law Olmstead, who was staunchly against slavery. This sober testimony was ignored in favor of abolitionist rant. But the people of the North in the 19th century have not been the only ones to ignore facts. The same problem continues today. Whenever a people decide to overlook the facts, however, they sometimes discover that there is a great deal to overlook.
The Old South was a caste society, but not a compartmentalized society. There were specific roles for blacks and whites, and each “knew their place” as it were, but what is often overlooked is the high level of interaction between the races which was a common and everyday experience. Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence. There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world. The credit for this must go to the predominance of Christianity. The gospel enabled men who were distinct in nearly every way, to live and work together, to be friends and often intimates. This happened to such an extent that moderns indoctrinated on “civil rights” propaganda would be thunderstruck to know the half of it.
During the New Deal, President Roosevelt commissioned a number of journalists to interview former slaves, and record the results. The results of this project collected in the multi-volume Slave Narratives surprised everyone with preconceived notions of the slave institution. The reports did not fit with the established and reigning orthodoxy, and consequently the Slave Narratives have been largely ignored ever since. One would think that the verbal testimony of over 2,300 former slaves would be a fairly important piece of information when it comes to forming our views of the institution as it really functioned. After all, these were interviews with former slaves, not with former masters. But surprisingly (i.e., surprising to those who still think scholars are neutral and led by nothing more than an objective desire to know the facts) the Slave Narratives have had little effect upon the modern historiography of this period.
Why have these narratives been ignored? The answer is quite predictable. The Narratives consistently portray an amazingly benign picture of Southern plantation life. Affection for former masters and mistresses is expressed in terms of unmistakable devotion. Testimony to the good treatment, kindness, and gentleness of many so-called “heartless slave holders” abounds. Many of the old slaves express a wistful desire to be back at the plantation.
Slave life was to them a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care. In the narratives taken as a whole, there is no pervasive cry of rage and anguish. We see no general expression of bitterness and outrage. Instead we find, on page after page, expressions of affection for a condition which, in the words of one historian, “shames the civilized world.” The overwhelmingly positive view of slavery is all the more striking when one considers that the period being remembered by these former slaves could arguably be called the most harsh years of the institution — those years when it was under fierce attack, and when slave owners had circled the wagons.
Predictably, the modern heirs of the abolitionists have fallen over themselves in an effort to discredit this amazing testimony. “They were old and their memories were defective . . . They were suffering under the Great Depression, many would think of slavery in a warm way under the conditions they suffered . . . They were talking to white people and weren’t about to say things that might get them ‘in trouble.’” However these efforts to explain away the overall testimony of the Narratives fall to the ground.
These explanations fall because the testimony is not unanimous. There are those, scattered here and there, who mention atrocities, and complain of the meanness and immorality of their owners. There are those whose voices drip with the bitterness brought on by years of unjust treatment and ungodly oppression. They were not too old to remember the outrage they felt then; nor had that outrage diminished over the years. They did not look back on their experience with affection and nostalgia. They weren’t afraid of what “Whitey” might think. In fact they were happy for the opportunity to make their bitterness known. Their testimony adds the clear note of authenticity to the Narratives. There was mistreatment, there were atrocities, there was a great deal of wickedness on the part of some — but, as the Narratives make plain, these abuses came from a distinct and very small minority. The Narratives have the ring of truth because they present the mixed picture which might be expected in an examination of any human institution. The surprise for moderns is that the mixture contains such an overwhelmingly positive view of master/slave relations before the War.
R.L. Dabney, William S. White, Charles Colcock Jones, and many other defenders of the South had long acknowledged the existence of mistreatment and wickedness among some slave holders. But they nevertheless maintained that these instances were relatively rare and infrequent. Dabney is careful to note: “Now, while we freely admit that there were in the South, instances of criminal barbarity in corporal punishments, they were very infrequent, and were sternly reprobated by publick opinion.”13
A Presbyterian pastor, William S. White observed:
In all lands there are husbands and fathers who maltreat their wives and children. So there are masters among us who maltreat their slaves. But the prevailing spirit is one of great kindness, showing itself in innumerable ways. Their mutual dependence begets mutual attachment. I could fill volumes with incidents, occurring under my own eyes, illustrating this statement; but I write for my own people, especially my own children, and not for the abolitionists.14
This judgment is confirmed powerfully by the recent study done by professors Robert William Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman entitled Time on the Cross. They were professors of Economics and History at the time of their writing of this book, and Professor Fogel later taught at Harvard University. The book sent shock waves through modern academia when it was published in the early 70s, and still provides a satisfactory shock whenever it is mentioned. They have done perhaps the most thorough examination of plantation records and first-hand accounts that has ever been done, and their results destroy the current but assumed view of slavery at point after point.
Given this testimony, it is not surprising that most southern blacks (both free and slave) supported the Southern war effort. Some of course supported that effort from purely selfish motives. Fully 25% of the free blacks owned slaves.15 Most of these were quite wealthy, and knew that a Northern victory would bring economic and social ruin on them, which, of course, it did. But many Southern blacks supported the South because of long established bonds of affection and trust that had been forged over generations with their white masters and friends. They gladly supported the war effort with food, labor, and sometimes fighting. Their loyalty to the principles of the South rivaled and was sometimes even greater than that of some whites.
For example, a slave named Robin was captured with his master during Morgan’s raid into Ohio. He was separated from his master in prison, and was offered his liberty several times in exchange for taking an Oath of Loyalty to the Union. He refused saying, “I will never disgrace my family by such an oath.”16 Remember, his “family” was his master’s family.
A number of servants captured at Vicksburg were offered their freedom with Federal protection but refused, choosing rather to be sent to Northern prisons to suffer with their fellow (white) soldiers.17
After their capture, a group of white Virginia slave owners and their slaves were asked if they would take the loyalty oath in exchange for their freedom. A free black among them stated indignantly, “I can’t take no such oath. I’m a secesh Negro.”18 A slave in the same group, when he learned that his master had refused to take the oath, proudly replied, “I can’t take no oath dat Massa won’t take.”19
But lest anyone think this reflects a servile and cowed attitude, we should consider another occasion when a planter captured at Point Lookout did agree to take the oath of allegiance. His slave refused. When asked why he refused when his master had not refused, the slave replied with disgust, “Massa has no principles.”20
These facts, and countless others, refuse to conform to modern abolitionists’ myth of a harshly oppressed people who constantly seethed with resentment. The fact that there were very few slave uprisings in the South further confirms the fact that slaves were well-treated and often had a deep loyalty to, and affection for, their masters.
The Treatment of Slaves
Whenever any human society is scrutinized, a biblical view of man would teach us to expect to find sin and evil. However, a partisan critic will seize upon any such problems and magnify it as though it were representative of the whole. We see this pattern today in feminist treatments of marriage, socialist treatments of the effects of free markets, and so forth.
In the South, there were times when slaves were punished, and when this happened, they were commonly punished by means of whipping. But Engerman and Fogel place this practice in context for us.
Some whippings were severe. In other instances, whipping was as mildly applied as the corporal punishment normally practiced within families today.21 Although some masters were brutal, even sadistic, most were not. The Slave Narratives are overwhelmingly favorable in the judgment of masters as “good men.” In fact in the Narratives, out of 331 references to masters, 86% refer to their masters as “good” or “kind.” Quite a few would not allow whipping at all, and many only allowed it in their presence.
But it was far more in the master’s interest to motivate his slaves by positive means. Far more important than whipping in managing the slaves was figuring out how to motivate. No plantation owner wanted slaves who were sullen, discontented, and hostile, who did just enough to get by. They wanted devoted, hard-working, responsible men who identified their fortunes with the fortunes of their masters. Such attitudes cannot be beaten into slaves. They had to be elicited.22
To achieve the desired response the planters developed a wide-ranging system of rewards. Some rewards were directed toward improving short-run performance (prizes for the individual or the gang with the best picking record on a given day or week). The prizes were such items as clothing, tobacco, whiskey, and very often cash. When slaves worked during times normally set aside for rest, they received extra pay — usually in cash.23 Occasionally planters even devised elaborate schemes for profit sharing with their slaves.
All this evidence points to the fact that slaves lived at various levels of income. The average pecuniary income received by a prime field hand was roughly fifteen percent greater than the income he would have received for his labor as a free agricultural worker. Some slaves saved their money and were quite wealthy after the war. Simon Phillips, a slave from Alabama says, “People has the wrong idea of slave days. We was treated good. My Massa never laid a hand on me the whole time I was wid him . . . Sometime we loaned the Massa money when he was hard pushed.”24
Data in the 1850 census suggest that the economic condition of the average free northern Negro may have been worse than that of the average free Negro in the South. A comparison between New York and New Orleans reveals that New York Negroes lived in more crowded housing, had a lower proportion of craftsmen, and less wealth per capita than free Negroes in New Orleans.25
Nearly every slave in the South enjoyed a higher standard of living than the poor whites of the South — and, had a much easier existence. Most slaves worked under the “task system” which allowed for a great deal of flexibility as work was adapted to the abilities of the individual slave, Forest McDonald comments in regard to this “task system”:
Normally these [tasks] were light enough so that a worker could complete them in three or four hours. His time was his own when his task was done, and it was not uncommon for slaves, in their free time, to work the acres that were uniformly allotted to them by their masters and thereby to accumulate personal property. It was more common for slaves to double up on their work — to do two or even three tasks in a day — and then to take several days off, during which they might travel many miles by horse or boat to visit friends, family, or lovers on other plantations.26
The Stability of the Slave Family
On average, only one slave holder out of every twenty-two sold a slave in any given year, and roughly one third of these were estates of deceased persons.27 With the trading that did occur, some of the families of slaves were broken up. The question is how widespread was this?
Data contained in the sales records in New Orleans, by far the largest market in the interregional trade, sharply contradict the popular view that the destruction of slave marriages was at least a frequent, if not a universal, consequence of the slave trade.
These records, which cover thousands of transactions during the years from 1804 to 1862, indicate that about 2% of the marriages of slaves involved in the westward trek were destroyed in the process of migration. Nor is it by any means clear that the destabilizing effects of the westward migration on marriages was significantly greater among blacks than it was among whites.28
There is no reason to believe that the age and sex structure of interstate sales at New Orleans were markedly different from those of other south-central cities. Moreover, New Orleans, more than any other city, dominated the interregional slave trade, receiving annually about one third of the slaves sold between states.29
The Myth of Slave Breeding
The thesis that systematic breeding of slaves for sale in the market accounted for a major share of the net income or profit of slave holders, is often espoused. This thesis involves two interrelated concepts. First, it is assumed that the slave owners interfered in the normal sexual habits of slaves to maximize female fertility through such devices as mating women with especially potent men. Second, it is assumed that this raising of slaves occurred with sale as the main motive.
Unfortunately for the thesis, the many thousands of hours of research by professional historians into plantation records have failed to produce a single authenticated case of the “stud” plantations alleged in abolitionist literature. Nor was the sale of slaves all that profitable. The sweet potato crop brought more income to slave owners than the interregional sale of their bondsmen.30
Furthermore, the proponents of the breeding thesis have been misled by their failure to recognize the difference between human beings and animals. What increases fertility among animals actually reduces fertility among men. Promiscuity increases venereal disease and reduces fertility. Emotional factors are of considerable significance in successful human conception. To imply that these factors would not be present in black people is inherently racist.
Clearly, had there been widespread sexual misconduct, the effects on slave morale would have been disastrous. Distraught and disgruntled slaves did not make good field hands. Consequently, most planters shunned direct interference in the sexual practices of slaves, and attempted to influence fertility patterns through a system of positive economic incentives — incentives that are akin to those practiced by various governments today.
Instructions from slave owners to their overseers frequently contain caveats against “undue familiarity” which might undermine slave morale and discipline. No set of instructions to overseers has been uncovered which explicitly or implicitly encouraged selective breeding or promiscuity.31
Didn’t sexual exploitation undermine and destroy the black family? Critics of the South have consistently answered in the affirmative. They accuse slave owners and overseers of turning plantations into personal harems. Again, unfortunately for the thesis, the evidence on which these assumptions and conclusions are based is extremely limited.
Such arguments overlook the real and potentially large costs that confronted masters and overseers who sought sexual pleasures in the slave quarters.32 It would have been much easier, and less risky, for owners of large plantations to keep a mistress in town than to risk the possibility of the destruction of his own family by taking up with a slave woman. For the overseer, the cost of sexual episodes in the slave quarters, once discovered, was often his job. Nor would he find it easy to obtain employment elsewhere as an overseer, since not many masters would be willing to employ as their manager a man who was known to lack self-control on so vital an issue.
Further, to imply that black men would be indifferent to the sexual abuse of their women is to imply that they were somehow less manly than other men who would be indignant over such abuse. This common assumption about slave men is not only unrealistic and unsubstantiated but an insult to their humanity and patently racist.
The Strength of the Slave Family
Apart from the motive supplied by Christianity, slave owners had strong economic incentives to promote high standards of morality among their slaves. Planters encouraged strong families not only for the well-being of the slaves, but also for the well-being of the plantation. Strong families promote happiness and contentment. Happy, contented workers are good workers. Thus, even if a slave owner was not a Christian, there were important reasons to discourage immorality. Marriage was encouraged. Adultery was punished and divorce was discouraged by the whip.33
Furthermore, slave families were not matriarchal as is commonly assumed. “For better or worse, the dominant role in slave society was played by men, not women. It was men who occupied virtually all of the managerial slots available to slaves. . . . Men occupied nearly all the artisan crafts. . . .”34 “It was the male who initiated the period of courtship. And it was the man who secured the permission of the planter to marry.”35
The husband was the head of the house and there was a strong familial bond between family members. This kind of bond is not the product of widespread promiscuity. One could argue that the black family has never been stronger than it was under slavery. It was certainly stronger under the southern slave system that it is today under our modern destructive welfare state.
The belief that the typical slave was poorly fed is without foundation in fact. There was no deficiency in the amount of meat allotted to slaves. On average, they consumed six ounces of meat per day, just an ounce less than the average quantity of meat consumed by the free population. The high consumption of meat, sweet potatoes, and peas made the slave diet not only adequate, but it actually exceeded modern recommended daily levels of the chief nutrients.36
The clothing of slaves, though not lavish, was fairly standard for what the average free white man would have had. Many slaves had far better clothes than poor whites.
On the question of shelter, the most systematic housing information comes from the census of 1860, which included a count of slave houses. These data show that on average there were 5.2 slaves per house on large plantations. The number of persons per free household was 5.3. The single-family household was the rule.37
The quality of housing varied. Comments of observers suggest that the most typical slave houses of the late ante bellum period were cabins about eighteen by twenty feet. They usually had one or two rooms. Lofts, where the children slept, were also quite common. Windows were not glazed, but closed by wooden shutters. Chimneys were of brick or stone. Building material was either logs or wood. Floors were usually planked and raised off the ground.
Such housing may sound mean by modern standards but actually compared well with the homes of free workers in the ante bellum era. The typical slave cabin probably contained more sleeping space per person than was available to most of New York City’s working-class in 1900.38
The medical care was good. Generally, the slaves received the same medical care the family received. The doctor attending to the slaves was usually the same doctor who ministered to the planter’s family. Good medical care is reflected in the statistics for life expectancy. U.S. slaves had much longer life expectations than free urban industrial workers in both the United States and Europe.
The Problems of Slavery
Slavery was attended with evils. As it existed in the South, it was not in any way perfect or utopian. But too often the real problems with slavery were not the problems we have been told about. However, as discussed earlier, Christians should be quick to notice the discrepancies between biblical slavery and that practiced in the South. These differences between the biblical standard and Southern slavery do make impossible an unqualified defense of the institution as it existed and operated in the South. Furthermore, the cruel mistreatment given to some slaves is inexcusable and truly despicable. All such evil was wicked and indefensible. When modern Christians condemn such things, however, they must recognize that they are not condemning something defended by the South. This mistreatment was reprobated by the majority of ante bellum Southerners as well. Modern condemnations of these abuses are several centuries late.
Third, a problem with slavery not yet discussed is the fact that slavery promoted what can be called a “slave mentality” in the minds of some blacks. Not everyone, as we have seen, was so affected. There are amazing stories regarding the industry and ingenuity of many slaves. Not everyone imbibed the “slave mentality,” but many did. There are many complaints in the Slave Narratives which indicate this. The majority of those interviewed complain that they would rather be slaves again than to be free with all the responsibilities that freedom entails. Ironically, if slavery had not been so pleasant an experience for the majority, this mentality would not likely have such a strong hold upon the minds of some of their descendants today.
Finally, slavery gave an issue to radical revolutionaries by which they could provoke animosity against the South and, consequently, the “old order” which held sway in this nation prior to 1861. The War that resulted gave these radicals opportunity to increase the size and power of the federal Government in this nation to undreamed-of proportions. Our nation, after 1865, was transformed into a distinctly different entity than it had been before. The nation established by the founding fathers, a limited, constitutional republic, a union of free States, was no more. And the modern, messianic State which seeks to bring salvation by law, was firmly established.
After the death of the Old American Republic, the nation created by the new revolutionaries became a nightmare for the newly-freed black men and women. The laws which were ostensibly passed to help them were used more and more to exclude them from the privileges they once enjoyed under the restricted freedom of slavery. For example, licensure requirements and the rise of unionism have systematically excluded black artisans and craftsmen from making the living they had made before the War. Welfare laws have removed the black man from his position of breadwinner and head over the home, and the black family has been gradually destroyed. Blacks were freed from the southern plantations only to become the slaves of an impersonal state.
Professors Fogel and Engerman observe,
What antislavery critics generally objected to was not the fact that slavery constrained the opportunities open to blacks, but the form which these constraints took. While physical force was unacceptable, legal restrictions were not. Thus many one-time crusaders against slavery sat idly by, or even collaborated in passing various laws which served to improve the economic position of whites at the expense of blacks.39
Henry Banner, a former slave from Arkansas, put it more succinctly, “Before the war you belonged to somebody. After the war you weren’t nothin’ but a nigger.”40
But in spite of the evils contained in the system, we cannot overlook the benefits of slavery for both blacks and whites. We refer here to several matters of some importance.
First was the influence of Christianity. More than one slave lived to thank God for his servitude — despite all the hardships involved. Martin Jackson of Texas puts it this way: “I believe that slavery in this country, taking everything into consideration, was a Godsend for the slaves. The twenty million Negroes are descended from four million sent over from Africa. If it had not been for the slave traffic, we would still be living in Africa. I would be a heathen and my children would be heathens.”41 More than one former slave had reason to stand in the place of the biblical Joseph and say, “Men meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” The slavery they were delivered from was far worse than any they suffered in this country.
Slavery produced in the South a genuine affection between the races that we believe we can say has never existed in any nation before the War or since. Whatever its failures, slavery produced in the South a degree of mutual affection between the races which will never be achieved through any federally-mandated efforts. Listen to a few examples:
George Fleming of Laurens, South Carolina said: “I longed to see Marse Sam Fleming. Lawd, chile, dat’s de best white man what ever breathed de good air. I still goes to see whar he buried every time I gits a chance to venture t’wards Laurens. As old as I is, I still draps a tear when I sees his grave, fer he sho’ was good to me and all his other niggers.”42 And, with this use of the word nigger, it is important for us to remember the mutable nature of human language. What today constitutes a gross insult did not have the same connotations a century ago.
Clara Davis of Alabama said this:
Dem was de good ole days. How I longs to be back dar wid my ole folks an’ a playin’ wid de chillun down by de creek. ‘Taint nothin’ lak it today, nawsuh. . . . Dey tells me dat when a pusson crosses dat ribber, de Lawd gives him whut he wants. I done tol’ de Lawd I don’t want nothin’ much . . . only my home, white folks. I don’t think dats much to ax’ for. I suppose he’ll send me back dar. I been a-waitin’ for him to call.43
Adeline Johnson, Winnsboro, South Carolina: “I hope and prays to get to heaven. I’ll be satisfied to see my Savior that my old marster worshiped and my husband preached about. I want to be in heaven with all my white folks, just to wait on them, and love them, and serve them, sorta like I did in slavery time. That will be enough heaven for Adeline.”44
There is a nobility to these old servants that humbles us: Nicey Pugh says, “I was born a slave but I ain’t neber been one. I’se been a worker for good peoples. You wouldn’t calls dat bein’ a slave would you, white folks?”45
None need lament the passing of slavery. But who cannot but lament the damage to both white and black that has occurred as a consequence of the way it was abolished? We are forced to say that, in many ways, the remedy which has been applied has been far worse than the disease ever was.
The issue of slavery was used to provoke a revolution in 1861. That revolution has continued to this day, and slavery has increased in our land as a result. It is time for us to stand and declare the truth about slavery and to expose the failures of the abolitionist worldview. Having done this, we must go on to proclaim the only truth which can set all men truly free from slavery — the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 We refer our readers to Douglas Jones, The Biblical Offense of Racism (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1996).2 R.L. Dabney, A Defense of Virginia and the South (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1977), p. 356.3 Consider the following from “Debate on Slavery: Held in the City of Cincinnati, on the First, Second, Third, and Sixth Days of October, 1845, Upon the Question: Is Slave-Holding in Itself Sinful, and the Relation Between Master and Slave, a Sinful Relation?” This was originally published in 1846 by Wm. H. Moore & Co., reprinted in 1969 by Negro Universities Press, New York, NY). The participants in the debate were the Rev. J. Blanchard, Pastor of the Sixth Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati, and Dr. N.L. Rice, Pastor of the Central Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati.4 Dabney, Defense, p. 27.5 The entire subject of the slave trade has yet to be considered in its full and much more complicated light. We must remember that the “slave trade” was not initiated by white Europeans. A thriving intra continental slave trade existed within Africa itself (between African tribes as well as with the Muslims of Arabia) long before the Portuguese arrived in the fifteenth century. The vast majority of Negro slaves were not “kidnapped” out of the jungles by white Europeans or Yankee slave traders, but purchased from African slave traders through tribal mediators. J.C. Furnas observes, “[I]t is safe to say that ninety-nine in a hundred of the poor devils of Negroes shipped in the trans-Atlantic trade were already slaves, some born so, some become so legally, some forcibly made so — kidnapped if you like — before they were turned over to white men . . . And since slavery was well established along the Guinea Coast when the whites first saw it, kidnapping of free Negroes remained most exceptional even when, as time passed, whites came to buy thousands per year.” Furnas continues, “Even after superior weapons raised the odds for success, raiding remained bad for business. The Guinea trade went best when the Negro trader on the other side of the bargain was confident of his own safety . . . kidnapping [by a European] aroused the keenest resentment, for it defrauded the local chief of his dues and the native traders of their opportunities.” The position taken by the Africans was that there was nothing wrong with kidnapping free people into slavery particularly if they came from other tribes, but this enterprise was the rightful monopoly of the West Africans themselves and not of white Europeans (The Road to Harper’s Ferry, New York: William Sloan Associates, 1959), pp. 106–108.6 “It is customary to date the beginning of the New World traffic in Africans in the year 1502 when the first references to blacks appear in the documents of Spanish colonial administrators. . . .” It lasted over three and a half centuries during which time over 9,500,000 Africans were forcibly transported across the Atlantic. “Brazil was by far the largest single participant in the traffic, accounting for 38 percent of the total” The British and French-owned colonies in the Caribbean and the Spanish/American empire were the destination of 50%. Dutch, Danish, and Swedish colonies took another 6%. And the remaining 6% represent the share of the United States (Engerman and Fogel, Time on the Cross, Lantham, MD: University Press of America, Inc., 1974), p. 15.7 Dabney, Defense, p. 50.8 John S. Tilley, The Coming of the Glory (Nashville, TN: Bill Coats Ltd., 1995), p. 8. Tilley mentions an unattributed comment which is worth remembering in all discussions of slavery and the slave trade — “History is a collection of lies that have been agreed upon.”9 Dabney, Defense, p. 43.10 And even on the subject of the opposition to slavery, in 1827 four-fifths of the anti-slavery societies were in the Southern states. Tilley, referring to A.Y Lloyd, The Slavery Controversy, p. 58.11 George Lunt, The Origin of the Late War, 1866.12 Judge George L. Christian, “Report of the History Committee of the U.C.V, Made to the Reunion of Confederate Veterans, held at Richmond, VA, May 30th–June 3rd, 1907.”13 Ibid., p. 221.14 H.M. White, Rev. William S. White, D.D., and His Times (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle , 1983), p. 182.15 Engerman, Time on the Cross, p. 146.16 Richard Rollins, “Black Southerners in Grey,” Journal of Confederate History (Murfreesboro, TN: Southern Heritage Press, 1994), vol. XI, p. 7.17 Ibid., p. 12.18 Ibid.19 Ervin L. Jordan, Jr., “Different Drummers,” Journal of Confederate History (Murfreesboro, TN: Southern Heritage Press, 1994), vol. XI, p. 60.20 “Richard Rollins, “Black Southerners,” p. 11.21 Engerman, Time on the Cross, p. 144f.22 Ibid., p. 147.23 Ibid., p. 148.24 Alabama Narratives, pp. 312–315.25 Engerman, Time on the Cross, pp. 260–261.26 Forest McDonald, Novus Ordo Seclorum (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1985), p. 52.27 Engerman, Time on the Cross, p. 53.28 Ibid., p. 49.29 Ibid., p. 52.30 Ibid., pp. 78–79.31 Ibid., pp. 85–86.32 Ibid., pp. 133–134.33 Ibid., p. 128.34 Ibid., p. 141.35 Ibid., p. 142.36 Ibid., pp. 114–115.37 Ibid., p. 115.38 Ibid., pp. 115–116.39 Ibid., p. 263, emphasis added.40 Arkansas Narratives, Vol. I, pp. 104–106.41 James Mellon, ed., Bullwhip Days (New York, NY: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1988) p. 227.42 Ibid., p. 253.43 Alabama Narratives, pp. 109, 110.44 Belinda Harmence, Before Freedom (Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 1989), p. 56.45 Alabama Narratives, p. 325.