Eric V. Snow



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13 Further evidence for the near universality of the "standard ration" appears in Kenneth F. Kiple and Virginia H. Kiple, "Black Tongue and Black Men: Pellagra and Slavery in the Antebellum South," Journal of Southern History, 43 (Aug. 1977) 413, n. 7; Robert William Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman, Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery, 2 vols. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1974), 1:110; Richard Sutch in Paul A. David, et al., Reckoning with Slavery: A Critical Study in the Quantitative History of American Negro Slavery (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), p. 235.

14 John W. Blassingame, The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South, rev. and enl. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 254.

15 Botkin, Lay My Burden Down, p. 172; Drew, Refugee, pp. 131, 155.

16 Linda Brent, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861; reprint ed., San Diego: Harvest/HBJ Book, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1973), p. 11. Because of its rather incredible events and novelistic "feel," this narrative has had its authenticity questioned in years past. But more recently excellent evidence for its authenticity has appeared. See Jean Fagan Yellin, "Written by Herself: Harriet Jacobs' Slave Narrative," American Literature, 53 (Nov. 1981):479-86. Nevertheless, the feel of a morality tale still hangs over it. It tells the story of one slaveholder who supposedly on his deathbed shrieked, "I am going to hell; bury my money with me." When his eyes failed to close after his death, silver dollars were laid on them! This "incident," which she did not personally witness, sounds suspiciously like what this master's slaves wished and felt ought to have happened than what did in fact happen. Incidents, pp. 46-47.

17 "Compensated undernutrition," the dietetic condition in which the human body operates at a lower metabolic rate due to months or years of low caloric intake, may also explain how slaves lived on such rations without great physical damage. See David Eltis, "Nutritional Trends in Africa and the Americas: Heights of Africans, 1819-1839," Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 12 (winter 1982):471. This condition still makes its sufferers less energetic, less mentally alert--and more easy to control.

18 Fogel and Engerman, Time on the Cross, 1:113.

19 Some gathered evidence indicates the average height of American-born slaves was greater than their African counterparts. See Eltis, "Nutritional Trends," 453-75. For the greater natural population growth of Southern slaves as contrasted with those elsewhere in the Americas, see Fogel and Engerman, Time on the Cross, 1:25-29. Frederick Douglass believed "in the part of Maryland from which I came, it is the general practice,--though there are many exceptions" that the slaves were fed enough. Narrative, p. 65.

20 Fogel and Engerman, Time on the Cross, 1:109-115; Robert William Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman, Time on the Cross Evidence and Methods--A Supplement (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1974), 2:90-99; Richard Sutch in David, Reckoning, pp. 231-283.

21 William D. Piersen, "White Cannibals, Black Martyrs: Fear, Depression, and Religious Faith as Causes of Suicide among New Slaves," Journal of Negro History, 62 (Apr. 1977):153. He also notes that clay eating could be used to feign illness, which suddenly makes it a labor discipline issue. Fogel and Engerman cite Twyman in denial of this interpretation: Time on the Cross, 2:99. But Sutch strongly rebutts their claims that this practice does not occur due to vitamin deficiencies, noting their selective quotation of Twyman. See David, Reckoning with Slavery, pp. 277-79, n. 129.

22

Kiple and Kiple, "Black Tongue," 411-28; Sutch in David, Reckoning, pp. 270-81. In Fogel and Engerman's defense, however, it should be noted Eltis found a nutritional survey of Nigeria of the 1960s that indicated Africans got lower amounts of riboflavin and thiamine than Southern slaves. They also had lower calorie and protein intakes. See "Nutritional Trends," 470.



23 Douglass, Narrative, p. 65; Botkin, Lay My Burden Down, pp. 26, 120; my emphasis, Olmsted, Cotton Kingdom, 2:241; Frances Ann Kemble, Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839 (New York: Harper & Bros., Publishers, 1863), p. 65; Solomon Northrup, Twelve Years a Slave, eds. Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon (1853; reprint ed., Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1968), p. 153; Brown is found in F.N. Boney, "The Blue Lizard: Another View of Nat Turner's Country on the Eve of Rebellion," Phylon, 31 (winter 1970):356.

24 See also Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll, p. 549; Stampp, Peculiar Institution, pp. 284-85.

25 Kemble, Journal, p. 18. Note how similar Henderson's experience was to what household servants in Georgia Kemble saw who had "even less comfort [than field hands], in one respect, inasmuch as no time whatever is set apart for their meals, which they snatch at any hour and in any way that they can--generally, however, standing, or squatting on their hams round the kitchen fire." Journal, p. 66; Drew, Refugee, p. 156.

26 Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll, p. 370.

27 Kemble, Journal, p. 314; Mary Boykin Chesnut, A Diary from Dixie, ed. Ben Ames Williams (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1949), p. 24; Orland Kay Armstrong, Old Massa's People: The Old Slaves Tell Their Story (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1931), pp. 31, 109, 110.

28 Diana C. Crader, "Slave Diet at Monticello," American Antiquity, 55 (Oct. 1990): 700.

29 Evidently, the habits of excessively chopping up the bones affected even the master's table sometimes. Kemble said her slave cook/butcher had such "barbarous ignorance" that she challenged "the most expert anatomist to pronounce on any piece (joints they can not be called) of mutton brought to our table to what part of the animal sheep it originally belonged." Her eventual solution was to teach him how to butcher it properly, demonstrating on the carcass of what her cook pronounced "de beutifullest sheep de missis eber saw." See Kemble, Journal, pp. 196-98.

30 Crader, "Slave Diet," 698-703, 708-10, 713-15. Jefferson had distributed the largest amounts of fish to various more favored slaves, including some domestic servants, and some very old field workers.

31 Botkin, Lay My Burden Down, p. 90; see also p. 84; Northrup, Twelve Years a Slave, p. 153; Kemble, Journal, pp. 20, 216; Douglass, Narrative, p. 42; Crader, "Slave Diet," p. 698. See also Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll, pp. 487-88.

32 Botkin, Lay My Burden Down, pp. 90, 121; Olmsted, Cotton Kingdom, 2:238-39; Davis, Plantation Life, p. 409. See also pp. 51-52. Barrow's diary entry for March 19, 1842, p. 253 indicates he let them have their own pieces of land: "All hands repairing their Gardens;" Kemble, Journal, pp. 47-49; John Spencer Bassett, The Southern Plantation Overseer as Revealed in His Letters (Northampton, MA: Smith College, 1925), p. 187. See also pp. 203, 210 for discussions by this overseer concerning paying her slaves.

33 Olmsted, Cotton Kingdom, 2:241; Douglass, Narrative, p. 66; Drew, Refugee, p. 278; Kemble, Journal, pp. 134, 278; Boney, "The Blue Lizard," 356.

34 Crader, "Slave Diet," 704-5; for Payne's and Cato's testimony and the evidence for buttermilk, see Botkin, Lay My Burden Down, pp. 84, 112, 127, 147; Davis, Plantation Life, p. 409; Olmsted, Cotton Kingdom, 1:320. Olmsted spotted while in Mississippi one slave woman smoking a pipe! Cotton Kingdom, 2:69; Bassett, Plantation Overseer, pp. 25-27; Stampp, Peculiar Institution, pp. 370-71. For more on slave theft, see pp. 338-40 below.

35 For regional wage variations, see John L. Rule, The Labouring Classes in Early Industrial England, 1750-1850 (New York: Longman Group, 1986), p. 48, and the frontispiece of James Caird, English Agriculture in 1850-51, 2d ed. (London: Longman, Brown, Green, & Longmans, 1852); In southern Lancashire, James Caird (p. 284) found that "native labour is so scarce that the farmers declare they could not get on at all without the aid of the Irish." See also pp. 511-13; Thompson, Making, p. 219; Brinley Thomas, "Escaping from Constraints: The Industrial Revolution in a Malthusian Context," Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 15 (spring 1985): 746; Caird, English Agriculture, p. 511. Brinley cites this source, but how he derives the 26 percent figure remains obscure.

36 Arch, Joseph Arch, p. 12; The rector and Conservative was in the Times, quoted by Frederick Law Olmsted, The Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England (1859; reprint ed., Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1967), p. 243.

37 William Cobbett, Rural Rides in the Counties of Surrey, Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Somersetshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Hertfordshire, ed. E.W. Martin (1830; reprint ed., London: MacDonald & Co., 1958), pp. 110, 254-55, 276. Since Cobbett visited areas in the economically depressed south, what he witnessed cannot safely be extrapolated to the north of England.

38 W.H. Hudson, A Shepherd's Life: Impressions of the South Wiltshire Downs, new Am. ed. (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1921), p. 81; Alexander Somerville, The Whistler at the Plough, ed. K.D.M. Snell (Manchester, England: J. Ainsworth, 1852; reprint ed., London, Merlin Press, 1989; Fairfield, NJ: Augustus Kelley, 1989), pp. 38, 75, 119, 264; Olmsted, Walks and Talks, pp. 243-44; Great Britain, Parliament, BPP, 1837, vol. xvii, Reports from the Select Committee to Inquire into the Administration of the Relief of the Poor under the Provisions of the Poor Law Amendment Act with Minutes of Evidence and Appendices, part 1, second report, pp. 3, 7-8, 14-15. Below, this report may be referred to simply as "Committee on the New Poor Law"; Phyllis Deane and W.A. Cole, British Economic Growth 1688-1959 (1962), p. 75, quoted in Brinley Thomas, "Feeding England During the Industrial Revolution: A View from the Celtic Fringe," Agricultural History 56 (Jan. 1982): 338.

39 Somerville, Whistler, pp. 119-20; Hudson, Shepherd's Life, pp. 220-21; Thomas, "Feeding England," p. 331. See also Rule, Labouring Classes, pp. 51-53; E.P. Thompson, "The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteen Century," Past and Present, no. 50 (February 1971), p. 80 (Charles Smith); Thomas, "Escaping from Constraints," p. 747; J.L. Hammond and Barbara Hammond, The Village Labourer (1911; reprint ed., London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1966), p. 123. However, Caird found in Lancashire by 1850, compared to 1770, that "oat-bread" had become "much superseded, even in the country districts, by wheaten bread" which now sold at a slightly lower price. English Agriculture, pp. 283-84.

40 Cobbett, Rural Rides, p. 110; Cobbett as cited by Somerville, Whistler p. 296. Once when on a stagecoach Somerville and his fellow passengers talked about the relative merits of the crops in Suffolk and Buckingham. After discussing what kinds they liked to eat, he asked the stagecoach's guard what type of potatoes he liked. He replied: "Give me . . . good old English fare, and good old English times, and dang your potatoes and railroads both!" Whistler, p. 50.

41 Somerville, Whistler, pp. 62, 249, 303, 405, 414.

42 Richard Jefferies, Hodge and His Masters, 2 vols. (1880; reprint ed., London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1966), 2:71; See Arthur Young's comment in Hammond and Hammond, Village Labourer, p. 122; Thompson, "Moral Economy," p. 81; see also footnote 19, p. 82.

43 Olmsted, Walks and Talks, p. 243; Snell, Annals, pp. 4-14; Thompson, "Moral Economy," p. 82.

44 Caird, English Agriculture, pp. 84-85; Somerville, Whistler, pp. 18, 32; Jefferies, Hodge, 1:78; Olmsted, Walks and Talks, p. 237.

45 Great Britain, Parliament, BPP, 1824, vol. VI, Select Committee on Labourers' Wages, as found in Nigel E. Agar, The Bedfordshire Farm Worker in the Nineteenth Century (n.p.: Publications of the Bedfordshire Historical Record Society) 60 (1981):66. Indicating that conditions for unskilled laborers had changed little even during the First World War, the sample menus for a lower middle class household were far superior to a laborer's in Peel's Eat-Less-Meat-Book of 1917. Some agricultural laborers still ate up to fourteen pounds of bread a week during the First World War. (Unlike Germany, the diets of the English working class on the whole actually improved during World War I). Arthur Marwick, The Deluge: British Society and the First World War (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1965; reprint ed., New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1970), pp. 123-25, 135, 193, 196-200

46 Jeffries, Hodge, 1:72; an example of such moralizing is in 2:80-91; Olmsted, Walks and Talks, p. 243.

47 Arch, Joseph Arch, pp. 221-22; Commission on Employment in Agriculture, BPP, 1867-68, pp. vii, xii-xiii.

48 Commission on Employment in Agriculture, BPP, 1867-68, pp. xvii, xx; Somerville, Whistler, p. 128; John Burnett, ed., Useful Toil: Autobiographies of Working People from the 1820s to the 1920s (1974; reprint ed., London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 51-52.

49 Comparing slaves given rations largely regardless of work done and laborers earning wages presents some theoretical problems. Normally, slaves earned no wages, except for extra work outside normal hours, and were given a ration of food each week or month regardless of the amount of work done. But the agricultural laborers, if they had no access to a commons, an allotment, or were not under a yearly contract as a farm servant, had their standard of living virtually defined by their wages. So when examining their diets, wages stand as a partial proxy for comparison purposes when specific information on pounds of food eaten per person per week are not available for the laborers.

50 Somerville, Whistler, pp. 32, 335-36; See also p. 120; Committee on the New Poor Law, BPP, 1837, second report, p. 8; Cobbett, Rural Rides, p. 400; Phillip D. Morgan, "The Ownership of Property by Slaves in the Mid-Nineteenth-Century Low Country," Journal of Southern History, 49 (Aug. 1983):399-420; For butcher's meat as a luxury, see Caird, English Agriculture, p. 29 and Somerville, Whistler, p. 228.

51 Jefferies, Hodge, 1:97. Jefferies portrayed one old farmer who rose by practicing the utmost parsimony. But as he grew older and his teeth weaker, he started ordering butcher's meat. His equally stingy wife furiously opposed this luxury, which normally was one leg of mutton each week. His teeth could no longer take "the coarse, fat, yellowy bacon that [had] formed the staple" of his diet, "often . . . with the bristles thick upon it." Hodge, 1:55.

52 Great Britain, Parliament, BPP, 1843, vol. VII, Report from Select Committee on Labouring Poor (Allotments of Land), pp. 3, 12, 14, 20, 113. This report may be referred to simply as "Committee on Allotments" below.

53 Thompson, Making, p. 217; Commission on Employment in Agriculture, BPP, 1867-68, first report, p. il; Arthur Young, General Report on Enclosures: Drawn up by Order of the Board of Agriculture (London: B. McMillan, 1808; reprint ed., New York: Augustus M. Kelly, Publishers, 1971), pp. 14, 150-52; Somerville, Whistler, p. 42.

54 For the influence of the Swing Riots on allotments, see Hammond and Hammond, Village Labourer, p. 157; Committee on Allotments, BPP, 1843, pp. ii-iv; Young, General Report, pp. 47, 107, 166, 348-50; Commission on Employment in Agriculture, BPP, 1867-68, p. xxv.

55 Cobbett, Rural Rides, p. 308; see also p. 336.

56 Thomas Smart, father of thirteen children with seven still living when he was forty-six years old, was asked by the Select Committee on Labourers' Wages: "Do you know any labourers with so large family as you have, who have brought them up without assistance from the parish?" He replied: "Never one but me." (He mentioned having taken burial expenses from the parish, but nothing else earlier). BPP, 1824, vol. VI, pp. 53-56, as in Agar, Bedfordshire Farm Worker, pp. 64-65, 67.

57 Olmsted, The Cotton Kingdom, 2:240; Davis, Plantation Life, p. 409.

58 as cited in Thompson, "Moral Economy," p. 82.

59 Edward Butt, a relief officer for Petworth union, Sussex, stated that he resigned from that position not just because of a 20l./year salary cut, but also because: "I was hurt in my feelings to see the pitiful cries of the poor; it would hurt any man to see a parcel of young children, and have no more to give, it would touch the heart of a flint-stone; I could not bear it; I did not wish to mention that [initially to the Committee]." Committee on the New Poor Law, BPP, 1837, second report, p. 6.

60 Davis, Plantation Life, p. 409. See also pp. 46-47. On p. 114 he says: "Gave women Calico dress." For blankets given, see pp. 219-20 (seventy bought); p. 377 (thirty bought); Drew, Refugee, pp. 155-156 (Henderson) Admittedly, since he was mostly a child during this period, he was not likely to be issued a blanket individually; Olmsted, Cotton Kingdom, 1:105, 193, 200-210, 211; For pay for working irregular times, see Ball, Slavery in the United States, p. 44.

61 Drew, Refugee, p. 278; Olmsted, Cotton Kingdom, 1:40, 52; Kemble, Journal, pp. 52-53.

62 Botkin, Lay My Burden Down, p. 122; For exceptions, see pp. 81, 85; Douglass, Narrative, pp. 43, 44; For Finch's and Epp's recollections, see Armstrong, Old Massa's People, pp. 72, 73; Charles Ball of Maryland said that "Children not able to work in the field, were not provided with clothes at all, by their masters." Slavery in the United States, p. 44.

63 Stampp, Peculiar Institution, pp. 289-90; Olmsted, Cotton Kingdom, 1:52. However, exceptions occurred: While visiting one neighboring (and declining) plantation on a Georgian sea island, Kemble encountered barefoot, "half-naked negro women" who "brought in refreshments." Journal, p. 296. Similar standards likely prevailed for many rural small slaveholders in the interior regions of the South.

64 Botkin, Lay My Burden Down, pp. 141-42; Olmsted, Cotton Kingdom, 1:242; George P. Rawick, ed., The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography 19 vols. (1972-: Westport), South Carolina Narratives, II (2), 36, quoted in Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll, p. 370.

65 Botkin, Lay My Burden Down, p. 145; Northrup, Twelve Years a Slave, p. 164; Kemble, Journal, p. 281; Olmsted, Cotton Kingdom, 1:211. He commented while in Virginia, p. 105: "On Sundays and holidays they usually look very smart, but when at work, very ragged and slovenly."

66 Charles Ball chose to stop wearing the straw hat his wife gave him while working. He feared standing out since he was the only slave on the plantation with a hat. Ball, Slavery in the United States, p. [1]47.

67 Olmsted, Cotton Kingdom, 2:267-268.

68 Botkin, Lay My Burden Down, p. 63; Armstrong, Old Massa's People, pp. 188, 193-195; Olmsted, Cotton Kingdom, 2:68-69; Joan Rezner Gundersen, "The Double Bonds of Race and Sex: Black and White Women in a Colonial Virginia Parish," Journal of Southern History, 52 (Aug. 1986):369; Bassett, The Plantation Overseer, p. 180.

69 Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll, p. 551.

70 Bassett maintained going barefoot in warm weather was expected. Plantation Overseer, p. 271; the testimony of Reynolds and Kinney is in Botkin, Lay My Burden Down, pp. 82, 122; Davis, Plantation Life, p. 239; Brent, Incidents, pp. 17-18; Douglass, Narrative, p. 43; for an exception, see Cicero Finch of Georgia in Armstrong, Old Massa's People, p. 72; Olmsted, Cotton Kingdom, 1:104. Curiously, Olmsted found in one area of Tennessee a majority of poor whites routinely went barefoot in winter, even when the snow was four or five inches deep without thinking it was much of a problem! Cotton Kingdom, 2:128.

71 Bassett, Plantation Overseer, p. 271; Davis, Plantation Life, pp. 82, 101, 133, 213, 342, 409; for the use of local cobblers, see Armstrong, Old Massa's People, p. 188; Botkin, Lay My Burden Down, p. 63.

72 Fogel and Engerman, Time on the Cross, 1:116-17; Sutch in David, Reckoning, pp. 298-99; Ball, Slavery in the United States, pp. 146-[1]47; cf. Stampp, Peculiar Institution, pp. 289, 291-92.

73 Rule, Labouring Classes, pp. 66-67; Somerville, Whistler, p. 382; Arch, Joseph Arch, p. 31; Cobbett, Rural Rides, p. 96.

74 Cobbett, Rural Rides, pp. 51, 306, 433; Somerville, Whistler, p. 281; Having one set of clothes is mentioned in Rule, Labouring Classes, p. 68.

75 Somerville, Whistler, pp. 119, 120, 413, 414.

76 Cobbett, Rural Rides, pp. 99-100; Committee on New Poor Law, BPP, 1837, second report, p. 14.
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