Tag Archives: Harriet Tubman

Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman – Part 26

List of Subscribers to the Publishing Fund

Gerrit Smith — Peterboro, N. Y., — $25.00
Wendell Phillips — Boston, Mass., — $25.00
J. S. Seymour — Auburn, N. Y., — $25.00
D. M. Osborne — Auburn, N. Y. — $25.00
Chas. P. Wood — Auburn, N. Y. — $25.00
Wm. H. Seward, Jr. — Auburn, N. Y. — $25.00
J. N. Knapp — Auburn, N. Y. — $25.00
Rufus Sargent — Auburn, N. Y. — $25.00
H. Ivison — New York — $25.00
Timothy L. Barker — San Francisco, Cal., — $20.00
Wm. G. Wise — Auburn, N. Y., — $10.00
G. I. Letchworth — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
S. L. Bradley — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
I. F. Terrill. — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
Abijah Fitch, — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
M. C./T. M. Pomeroy — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
F. L. Griswold — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
Cyrenus Wheeler — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
John Chedell — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
David Wright — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
Jo Iah Barber — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
Geo. E. Barber — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
S. Willard, M. D. — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
Richard Steel, — Auburn, N. Y., — ‥ $5.00
C. H. Merriman, — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
J. Lewis Grant, — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
A. H. Goss — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
Christopher Morgan — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
J. M. Hurd — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
W. J. Sutton — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
Wm. A. Kirby — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
Thos. Mccrea — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
J. N. Starin — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
C. P. Ford — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00

Previously: An Essay on Woman Whipping — Part 4


Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman – Part 25

Woman-Whipping – Part Four

There is every reason to hope, therefore, that the Southern character, both male and female, will become gradually ameliorated by the changed condition under which it will hereafter be formed. It is a common error, one in which the Southern people themselves share, that there is something in their climate to nurse and to justify their “high spirit,” anglicé their quarrelsomeness and brutality of temper. It is very pleasant to lay off upon Nature or Providence what belongs only to will or institutions. A man indulges in violent passions with little restraint or remorse, so long as he can persuade himself he is merely what certain positive natural laws make him. What an opiate for a conscience defiled with lust and blood, to think that this is only natural to the “sunny South.” But in fact, the people of warm, temperate, and tropical regions are most commonly gentle of mood; the climate acts as an anodyne, and soothes them into a peaceful equilibrium of the passions. The negroes of the Southern States are not passionate or vindictive–well for their late masters and present persecutors that they are not! What they may become from the treatment they are experiencing from those preternatural and predestinated fools, is another question.

The only reason the “chivalry” are bad-tempered and quarrelsome, is found in that despotism in which they have been nursed, and which associates the idea of personal dignity with an instant resort to violence at any contradiction. But for slavery, the people of Mississippi would have been no more addicted to street fights, dueling, midnight assassinations, etc., than the people of Massachusetts. That the former have any advantage in respect to courage, has been sufficiently disproved by the rebellion. Whether the ex-Confederate ladies may or may not be able to “fire the Southern heart” for another attempt to overthrow the Government, it will at least never be done under the persuasion that one Southerner is equal to five or any other number above unity, of Yankees.

The traditions of slavery, indeed, will remain to keep alive among the late slaveholding caste, the insolent and unchristian temper on which they have prided themselves. But having no more helpless dependants to storm at and abuse, their valor will needs submit to gradual modifications. Some degree of self-government will become a necessity. It may require several generations; but institutions ceasing to corrupt them, the loss of wealth, the necessity of work and a new Gospel of peace, better than their old slaveholding Christianity, will gradually educate them into a law-abiding, orderly, and virtuous people.

The Southern woman will of course share early in this beneficent change–no longer perverted into a she-devil by the possession of unrestrained power, and paying just wages to servants, who, if not suited with their work, can leave without having to run off; her gentler virtues will have a chance to assert themselves: Her striking qualities will subside into a charming vivacity of temper. She will become a gracious and pious mater-familias; she will perhaps in time learn to apply to her own children a portion of that discipline of which her slaves enjoyed a monopoly. In short, there neither is nor ever was any reason, slavery excepted, why the Southern whites should not possess a character for industry, peacefulness, and religion, equal to that of the rural districts of New York and New England.

Thank God that we have lived to see such awful barbarisms extinct! In fifty years the last woman-whipper at the South will be as dead as Cleopatra; as dead as the pre-Adamite brute organizations. History will be ashamed to record their doings. The fictions in which they are enbalmed will be lost in the better coming era of morals and letters. By the time the South has been overflowed and regenerated by a beneficent inundation of Northern “carpet-baggers,” with Yankee capital and enterprise, it will be forgotten that a race capable of the crimes referred to in the preceding story, ever existed.


It is curiously illustrative of the mixed childishness and ferocity which characterizes the Southern civilization, that the Ku-Klux Klan — this secret association of ruffians, organized to terrorize the loyal South — styles itself by an absurd, misspelled name, and goes about on its nightly work of murder in harlequin costume, with one of its leaders acting the part of ghost, to frighten the superstitious blacks. Some more courageous freedman occasionally makes a bona fide ghost of this masquerade.

Previously: An Essay on Woman Whipping — Part 3
Next: List of Subscribers to the Publishing Fund

This is part of a multi-part series published to celebrate Black History Month in 2012. The list of published posts can be found at Book Directory: Scenes In The Life Of Harriet Tubman. Use the Stay In Touch box below to recieve e-mail notifications about new posts.

Learn how to gain Access to the Accessible Archives databases.

Harriett Tubman

Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman – Part 24

Woman-Whipping – Part Three

But the Southern mistress was a domestic devil with horns and claws; selfish, insolent, accustomed to be waited on for everything. She grew up with the instinct of tyranny–to punish violently the least neglect or disobedience in her servants. The variable temper of girlhood, not ugly unless thwarted, became in the “Southern matron” a chronic fury. She was her own “overseer,” and, like that out-door functionary, had her own scepter, which she did not bear in vain.

The raw-hide lay upon the shelf within easy reach, and her arm was vigorous with exercise. The breaking of a plate, the spilling of a cup, the misplacing of a pin in her dress, or any other misadventure in the chapter of accidents, was promptly illustrated with numerous cuts. The lash well laid on the shoulders of a black femme-de-chambre, or screaming child, was an agreeable titillation of the nervous sensibilities of the languid creole; a headache, or a heartache, transferred itself through the medium of the rawhide to the back of Phillis or Araminta.

They no doubt whipped sometimes, like Mr. Squeers, for the mere fun of the thing. It is an exquisite pleasure to a cowardly nature to have some creature to torment; and there is this nemesis about cruelty that it engenders an appetite which, like that for alcoholic stimulents, for ever demands increased indulgence. It was the vindictive woman’s nature in the South that protracted and gave added ferocity to the rebellion. These woman-whipping wives and mothers it was who hounded on the masculine chivalry to the work of exterminating the “accursed Yankees,” and thus made their own punishment so much sorer than it need have been.

The mention of these amiable Southern characteristics cannot fail to recall that highly suggestive scene of the Malebolge, with the illustration of Gustave Doré, in which the tempters and destroyers of women are seen scourged with whips, in the hands of demons; especially when we remember that the whipping of slave women to make them consent to their own dishonor, was one of the usages of the patriarchal chivalry.

There is not a scene in which the imaginings of Dante have been better seconded by the pencil of the great French artist: the flying wretches hurrying in opposite directions, as the crowds in the Jubilee year trampled each other, going and returning across the St. Angelo Bridge; among them the bat-winged fiends with whips, lashing right and left! In the throng are female figures: women who in life tortured and corrupted other women. What terror in face an attitude! How desperately they grapple with the rocks to lift themselves out of reach of the scourge! And these two demons in the foreground! What an absolute idealization of muscular ferocity! Every sinewy line in their cantour displays the force of a fallen demi-god; their very tails curl with delight in their ministry of vengeance.

Ahi; come facen levar le berze,
Alle prime percosse, e gia hessuno,
Le second aspettava ne le terze!

Ah! how they make them skip! There is Legree and Tom Gordon, and Madame de Schlangenbad, from Louisiana, and Mrs. Crawley (neè Sharp) from South Carolina, squirming under the torture! A very instructive, if not agreeable exhibition!

But this fury in celestial Southern bosoms was merely institutional. Dip the gentlest nature into the element of irresponsible power, and it becomes in time covered over with a foul incrustation of cruelty. Those beastly Roman ladies of Juvenal’s time, who could order a slave woman to be whipped to death without condescending to give any other reason than their sic volo, sic jubeo, were not naturally worse than others.

Take any Roman or Southern girl of ten years of age, put a whip in her hands, and a helpless slave child at her mercy; let her see nothing but brutality to inferiors all around her, and by the time she is ready to be married, she can hold up her thumb to the standing gladiator in the arena, or beg her lover to bring her back from Bull Run a ring from the bones of some Yankee soldier. It is a publicly known private fact, illustrative of the influence of slavery on the female character, that when a certain Northern clergyman applied to her father for the hand of a celebrated Maryland heiress, the reply was, “You are quite welcome to her! but I think it only fair to tell you that if I were going to storm hell, I should put her in the advance.”

Previously: An Essay on Woman Whipping — Part 2
Next: An Essay on Woman Whipping — Part 4

This is part of a multi-part series published to celebrate Black History Month in 2012. The list of published posts can be found at Book Directory: Scenes In The Life Of Harriet Tubman. Use the Stay In Touch box below to recieve e-mail notifications about new posts.

Learn how to gain Access to the Accessible Archives databases.


Harriet Tubman in her Scout Garb

Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman – Part 23

Woman-Whipping – Part Two

A recent Southern paper (the Virginia Advertiser) finds a providential provision for the enslavement of the negro race in the thickness of their skulls, enabling them to bear without injury the blows inflicted in sudden rage by their masters; a suggestive confession, by the way, of the influence of slavery on the tempers of the slaveholders. The whole race must be prepared, it seems, for blows on the head with whatever weapon came to hand! But admitting the thickness of the skulls, it appears from an incident in the preceding pages, as well as from other known instances, that the inventive genius of the slave-whipping chivalry contrived to baffle the humane designs of Providence–a negro skull well padded with wool might bear without injury the blow of a boot-jack or a hammer, and yet prove insufficient to resist the impact of a musket-ball or a ten-pound weight.

It is of no avail to plate a vessel with six inches of iron, if she is to be pounded with bolts that can mash an eight-inch armor. Apparently, Divine Providence stopped short of the necessary security for the predestined slave race. It should have arranged for a progressive thickening of the negro cranium to meet the increase of violence on the part of the master; until at length slavery might be encountered with a difficulty like that which besets naval gunnery, viz., what would be the result if an infrangible African skull should be beaten by an irresistable Caucasian club?

But even this Virginia laudator temporis acti, this melancholy mourner at the tomb of defunct slavery, does not allege any such Providential thickening of the negro cuticle as to amount to a satisfactory anæsthesis against whipping. It has never been proven that a Virginia paddle or a Georgia raw-hide well applied did not make the blood spirt as freely through a black skin as through a white one; nor has any Southern savant of the Nott and Gliddon school shown that there was not the same relative delicacy of organization in the slave woman as in the free. A black woman was, relatively to the black man, the more delicate subject for the whip; something more sensitive to the shame of stripping, more liable to terror, and of rather softer fiber; so that the lash went deeper both into soul and sense than in the case of her sable brother.

And this fact made the black woman a very suitable subject for the whip in the hands of the Southern lady. To succeed in slave-whipping as in any other fine art, the Horatian canon must be regarded, which requires us to take a subject suited to our strength. It would have been unreasonable, in ordinary cases, to expect a “dark-eyed daughter of the South” to flog handsomely a stalwart negro man; she sometimes did it, after he had been well tied up. But the slave girl was exactly suited to her flagellating capacities. A good many women, North as well as South, manifest a tendency to become tyrants in their own households, and love to bully their servants. But this is an evil of a mitigated nature in Northern society. The stupidest “help” in the kitchen knows she is safe from any other lash than her mistress’ tongue, and is commonly an adept at the business of answering back again.

Previously: An Essay on Woman Whipping — Part 1
Next: An Essay on Woman Whipping — Part 3

This is part of a multi-part series published to celebrate Black History Month in 2012. The list of published posts can be found at Book Directory: Scenes In The Life Of Harriet Tubman. Use the Stay In Touch box below to recieve e-mail notifications about new posts.

Learn how to gain Access to the Accessible Archives databases.

Harriet, in her costume as scout, was furnished by the kindness of Mr. J. C. Darby.

Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman – Part 22

Woman-Whipping — Ethically and Esthetically Considered

By S. M. Hopkins,
Professor in the Auburn Theological Seminary

The subject of the preceding memoir appears to have retained all her life a feeling recollection of the effects of the whip in the hands of her youthful mistress. Considering the vigor and frequency of the application, this is not strange. Infinite cuffs and thwacks, more or less, pass into oblivion; but a flogging with a raw-hide is not easily forgotten. A slave’s experience of the whip, however, was not confined to his or to her early days. A slave race must be controlled by fear and pain; and the discipline, it was naturally thought, could not begin too early. From childhood to old age they were liable to stripes, for any reason or for no reason. If the slave was guilty of no fault, he might be whipped, as appears from the preceding narrative, merely to impress him with a salutary sense of the master’s right and disposition to whip.

A Northern man, born and bred under the influences of freedom and the protection of law, and made acquainted with slavery in its old palmy days, can never forget his sensations at his first sight of a slave-whipping. The utmost he has ever seen in the way of corporal punishment has been the switching of some obstreperous child by competent authority; a discipline administered with prudence and moderation; drawing no blood and leaving no scar. He now sees an adult person stripped to the skin, his arms tied at their utmost stretch above his head, or across some object which binds him into a posture the best adapted to feel the full force of each blow. The instrument of suffering is not a birch twig or a ferule, but a twisted raw-hide, or heavy “black snake;” either of them highly effective weapons in the hands of a stout executioner.

Our Northern novice stands horror-stricken and paralyzed for a moment; but at the second or third blow, and the piteous scream of Oh Lord! Massa! which follows, he digs his fingers into his ears, and rushes to the furthest corner of his tent or dwelling, to escape the scene. Even if he could have endured the sight and sound a while longer, he dared not. The horror in his face, and perhaps the irrepressible word or act of interference was too sure to bring upon himself the vengeance due to a “d–d Abolitionist.” The little knot of Southern  habituès look on with critical inspection, squirting tobacco-juice, with their hands in their pockets.

If the subject is a woman, the interest rises higher, and the crowd would be greater. There is a refinement of cruelty in the whipping of a woman which used to stimulate agreeably the dull sensibilities of a Southern mob. A dish of torture had to be peppered very high to please the palates of those epicures in brutality. The helplessness and terror of the victim, the exposure of her person, the opportunity for coarse jests at her expense, all combined to make it a scene of rare enjoyment.

How the “chivalric” mind can endure the loss of such gratifications it is difficult to conceive. The Romans were weaned from crucifixions and gladiatorial combats very gradually. The process of ameliorating criminal law and humanizing public sentiment went on for more than two centuries. It was full four hundred years after the epoch of our redemption when the monk Telemachus threw himself between the hired swordsmen, whom a Christian audience was applauding, and laid down his own life to wind up the spectacle. But the bloody morsel has been snatched from the mouths of the “chivalry” at one clutch. No wonder their mortification vents itself in weeping and wailing, and knashing of teeth, and in such miscellaneous atrocities as their “Ku-Klux-Klans” can venture to inflict on helpless freedmen and radicals.

Continued in Part 2

Previously: Appendix II
Next: An Essay on Woman Whipping — Part 2

This is part of a multi-part series published to celebrate Black History Month in 2012. The list of published posts can be found at Book Directory: Scenes In The Life Of Harriet Tubman. Use the Stay In Touch box below to recieve e-mail notifications about new posts.

Learn how to gain Access to the Accessible Archives databases.

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