Friday, June 5, 2015

June 5, 1861 - W.H. Russell's rage at the Americans' methodical approach to slavery

William Howard Russell, the first great war correspondent, was an important contact for British Consul Robert Bunch, Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War SouthHere, Russell is visiting what's supposed to be a well-run plantation in Louisiana.

June 5 - ... Now, in this one quarter there were no less than eighty children, some twelve and some even fourteen years of age. No education, no God, their whole life food and play, to strengthen their muscles and fit them for the work of a slave. And when they die? "Well," said Mr. Seal [the overseer], "they are buried in that field there by their own people, and some of them have a sort of prayers over them, I believe." The overseer, it is certain, had no fastidious notions about slavery; it was to him the right thing in the right place, and his summum bonum was a high price for sugar, a good crop, and a healthy plantation....

There is an hospital on the estate, and even shrewd Mr. Seal did not perceive the conclusion that was to be drawn from his testimony to its excellent arrangements. "Once nigger gets in there, he d like to live there for the rest of his life." But are they not the happiest, most contented people in the world at any rate, when they are in hospital ? declare that to me the more orderly, methodical, and perfect the arrangements for economizing slave labor — regulating slaves — are, the more hateful and odious does slavery become.

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