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Full text of "The freedmen of South Carolina. An address delivered by J. Miller M'Kim, in Sansom hall, July 9th, 1862. Together with a letter from the same to Stephen Colwell, esq., chairman of the Port Royal Relief Committee"

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No. 724 Chestnut Street. 
18 6 2. 

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Olisiirinari of ilie Port Itoyal Heliei C^Jomrnittee. > 



*nce 10 cents — proceeds to go to the fonds of the Port Royal Relief Cominittee..,,gS^ 





At Sansom Hall, on Wednesday evening, Jnly Oth,, 

to an andienoe invited "by the Port Royal Relief 

Comxnittee ; STEPHEN OOLWELL, Esq., 

in th.e Cliair. 

Mr. Chairman, and Ladiss and Gentlemen: 

I am here to-night at the request of my friends and coadju- 
tors of the Port Boyal Relief Committee, to give some account 
of a recent visit which, at their instance, I have been paying to 
the Sea Islands of South Carolina, My mission was one of ob- 
servation and inquiry — its object being to obtain accurate infor- 
mation as to the condition and wants of the liberated blacks, and 
the progress and promise of the free-labor experiment there being 

Before proceeding with my account, it may be proper for me 
to make a few preliminary statements for the benefit of such — 
if such there be here^ — as may not have given this subject their 
particular attention. 

The successful bombardment by our fleet, under Com, Dupont, 
of the two rebel forts at Port Royal, on the 7th of November, put 
our forces in possession of all, or nearly all, that rich and fertile 
portion of the Palmetto State known as the Sea Islands. At the 
approach of our soldiers, the planters fled to the main, carrying 
with them what property they could, including as many of their 
Isaves, especially their house-servants, as they could induce or com- 

1 ^ 


pel to accompany them. They left behind them, however, nearly 
10,000 of their plantation slaves, a large proportion of whom were 
aged, infirm, and children. They left, also, considerable stores of 
corn, and still more considerable quantities of cotton. Of the 
latter most was unginned, and some of it yet on the stalk. The ne- 
groes showed themselves so loyal and friendly, and in all respects 
so well disposed, that our Government concluded to employ them 
at wages in gathering the cotton, and preparing it for market. 
The wages that were promised, though moderate, were nominally 
— that is, in the intentions of the Government — ^all-suflScient ; but 
when they were disbursed in store goods, at exorbitant rates, by 
selfish and sordid agents, they amounted to but a meagre pittance. 
Some of these cotton agents were honorable and upright men ; 
others were base and unscrupulous. . Jtfevertheless, the blacks 
worked industriously, and were content. As the result of their 
labor, upwards of 1,100,000* pounds 9f this valuable article was 
shipped to New York, there to be 80I4 for the benefit of the Na- 
tional treasury. Its value in dollars and cents, and that of the 
labor which made it available, may be estimated when I state that 
a lot some six weeks ago brought seventy-two cents a pound at 
auction. Since that time the price has advanced. 

Encouraged by the success of this enterprise, the Government 
resolved to try the experiment of planting a new crop. This un- 
dertaking was entrusted to Edward L. Peirce, Esq., at one time 
a private in the ranks of our volunteer army at Fortress Monroe^ 
then a rising young lawyer at the bar of Boston. Mr. Peirce was 
a personal friend of Secretary Chase, and had been formerly his 
private secretary. He had proved his capacity for the work now 
confided to him by the skill and judgment with which, while at 
Fortress Monroe, he had organized the " contrabands** there, and 

* Mr. Snydam, Goyemment Agent at Beaufort, kindly famished the fol. 
lowing : 

*' Memorandum of shipment of cotton £r#m Port Jdoyal, S. C, from Dec. 16, 
'61, to June 13, '62 : 

Ginned, lbs 284,4^4 

Unginned, 3,527,345, 25 per cent, being clean cotton, ... 8£il,836 

lbs 1,166,330 
8om« more yet to be shipped.*' 

turned to account their industry. Constituted Special Agent of 
the Treasury Department, with certain powers, one of which was 
to organize a corps of assistants, and another to draw on a fund 
placed at his disposal for the purchase of seeds, implements, etc., 
necessary for the execution of his task, Mr. Peirce repaired to 
Boston, and proceeded to lay the facts of the case before his 
friends and the public. In a short time, assisted by a Freedmen's 
Association, which had been formed there, he got together a body 
of about fifty men and women to go to Port Royal, there to labor 
as superintendents and teachers ; the superintendents to oversee 
the planting of crops and the like, and the teachers to instruct 
the children, and, as far as convenient, the adults, in the rudi- 
ments of learning ; and both to inculcate upon all habits of self- 
respect and self-support, and the lessons of morality and religion. 

While Mr. Peirce was thus at work in Boston, Mr. French — 
Rev. Mansfield French— ^Was similarly employed in New York, 
Mr. French had also been in old friend of Mr. Chase. He was 
earnestly devoted to the cause of freedom, and had taken a lively 
and active interest in the blacks at Port Royal from the time our 
forces first occupied those islands. With hb aid, the association 
at New Yord selected upwards of forty men and women to act as 
laborers in this work. In a few weeks these ladies and gentle- 
men — for such the chief of them were, eminently and in all re- 
spects — ^were on the ground iknd at work. 

In the meantime the attention of the people of Philadelphia 
was called to this subject. The statements published in the news- 
papers, and the appeals of Glen. Sherman and Com. Dupont had 
created quite a lively feeling in regard to the matter. A public 
meeting was called, and National Hall, as you will remember^ 
was crowded to repletion. Bishop Potter presided, and Dr. 
Tyng and others addressed the meeting, all of them setting forth 
in eloquent terms the pitiable condition of the liberated blacks^ 
their destitution, moral and material, and the duty devolving on 
the people of the North to come to their relief. A permanent 
committee was appointed to raise funds to procure food and clothes 
for these suffering people, and otherwise to carry out the purpose 
of the meeting. The committee organized and went to work. 

la It short time they raised between five and six thotwand dollars 
in money, and a very considerable qnantity of clothes, new and 
second-hand. With part of the money they purchased provisions 
—bacon, fish, and molasses — ^which, with some twenty or thirty 
boxes of clothes, they sent South, with as little delay as possible. 
They purchased and forwarded, also, considerable quantities of 
new material for men's and women's wear, and thread, needles, 
thimbles, and the like, with which to make it up. At the same 
time they sent a lady from this city to superintend the distribu- 
tion of these supplies. Or rather a lady of this city voluntarily, 
and from her own deep interest in the cause, went, and there — ^at 
Port Royal — ^assumed the onerous task of distributing by gift 
and sale these contributions of Philadelphia charity. Soon were 
received in return the most grateful acknowledgments from Mr. 
Peirce and his coadjutors. The supplies had been most timely, 
and had done great good. They had fed the hungry, clothed the 
niaked, cheered the hearts of the blacks, and strengthened the 
hands of their white friends. 

The committee, of course, were encouraged. They desired to 
continue and to increase their gifts, but they needed more accu- 
i^te information. None of them had ever been at Port Royal, 
nor had any of them any personal knowledge in regard to what 
was most needed. The people of New York and Boston were 
better informed. Some from both of these cities had been on 
the ground. It was deemed imp<Hi;ant that one of our number 
should also go, and in person make himself thoroughly acquainted 
idth the position of affairs. And because others more compe- 
tent did not feel at liberty to leave their business or their duties 
at home, the lot fell upcm me. Accompanied by my daughter, I 
left New York in the steamer that sailed for Port Royal on the 
2d of June, and returned in the Ericsson, which arrived at that 
ei^ on the 29th of the same month, having been; gone about four 
ireeks. I s^ent between two and three weeks of this time in 
tMting the chief points of the principal islands. I visited and 
lilttpected plantatiOiM^ on Stv Helena's and Ladies' Islands, and on 
Hie irittnds of Port Royal and Hilton Head. I also touched at 
HdiMo and James Islands^ irh^re I bad an opportunity of making 

some inquiries. James Island, it will be remembered, was the 
scene of the late disastrous engagement between the rebel troops 
and our forces under Oten. Benham. While gone, in pursuance 
of the purpose of my mission, I talked with people of all classes ; 
with white and black, soldiers and sailors, officers and privates, 
Abolitionists and anti- Abolitionists. The result of my inquiries 
it is my business now to state. 

As to the experiment of working the negroes by wages, and 
cultivating the land by free labor, I have to say that the enter- 
prise has thus far, in all respects, been entirely successful. This 
is a fact beyond the reach of cavil, and will not be denied by 
any honest man, having information sufficient to justify an 
opinion. It does not rest on the testimony of any one man or 
set of men, but on figures — ^arithmetical figures and statis- 
tical tables — ^which have been submitted to the world, and which 
challenge scrutiny. I allude particularly to Mr. Peirce's late 
report, which it is to be presumed most here have read. 

The success of the experiment is seen in the fact that 15,000* 
acres of cotton, corn, and other provisions, are now in an 
advanced and satisfactory state of cultivation, needing little more 
than a few weeks of ordinary fair weather to ensure a liberal 
harvest. If our arms should encounter no disastrous reverses, 
and these crops should be favored with the customary alterna- 
tions of sunshine and shower, Mr. Peirce will have furnished an 
argument against slavery which merchants on change and men 
of business can neither gainsay nor resist. For remember that 
this experiment has been made under the most unfavorable cir- 
cumstances. It was not begun until full six weeks after the 
usual time of commencing to prepare for the new crop. The 
work, instead of beginning early in February, was not started 

till the last of March. Then, the implements were altogether 

- ■ 

* ** It is with pleasure that tbe^aggregate resalt is here submitted. It makes 
(adding the negro patches to the eom-fields of the plantations) 8,315 12-100 
acres of provisions (com, potatoes, etc.) planted, 5,480 11-100 acres of cotton 
planted — in all, 13,795 23-100 acres of provisions and cotton planted. Adding 
to these the 2,394 acres of late corn, to a great extent for fodder, cow-peas, 
etc., to be planted, and the crop of this year presents a total of 16,189 23-100 
acres." — Mr. Peirce* s Report, 


insuflScient, both in number and character. There was a lack 
of hoes, plows, and horses to draw the plows. In addition to 
this, the people were reluctant to work on cotton. They were 
ready enough to go to work in raising corn, the value and need 
of which they could understand, but cotton had been their old 
enemy; it had been the cause of all their woes. To them it 
meant slavery. In this reluctance they had been encouraged by 
our soldiers, who had advised them not to raise cotton, which 
they could not eat, but only corn, which would feed them, and 
which would be their friend in the coming winter. It required 
much eflFort to overcome this difficulty. Then besides, the super- 
intendents were strangers to the business. Few of them had 
ever seen a cotton plant outside of a green-house, and some of 
them knew nothing practically of any kind of agriculture. They 
were strangers to the country, to the people, to the usages, to 
the climate, to everything, and all they had to depend upon was 
their own good sense and good will f<Jr the work, and the good 
sense and co-operative good will of the blacks. These were some 
of the difficulties that embarrassed the enterprise; and yet, 
under all these discouragements, 15,000 acres of cotton, corn 
and potatoes have been put under successful culture. The actual 
work has been done by about 3,800 laborers, that being the 
average number of able-bodied field hands out of the 10,000. 

The success of this experiment is further seen in the content- 
ment and happiness of the people. That they arc content is 
seen from their looks. Wherever you go, you meet cheerful and 
happy faces. Their words corroborate the language of their 
looks. "Oh, yes, massa, dese is good times.*' "Neber see sich 
good times afore." "Too good \q last, massa; too good to 
last.'* These are samples of the expressions we heard wherever 
we went. And yet these people have been and still are working 
for very scanty wages. Until this time their pay has been almost 
wholly in promises. But they are content. They have their 
freedom. They have food and clothes, and what they value 
more, kind and sympathizing friends. There is but one alloy to 
their happiness; that is, their fear of "de secesh." They can't 
divest themselves of a dread of their old master's return. But 

for this, these black people would be whfit their former ovmers 
falsely declared them to be, "the happiest peasantry in the 

To get a proper idea of these people's present condition and 
feelings, it is only necessary to go on a Sunday to one of their 
churches. I availed myself of the earliest opportunity after my 
arrival, to enjoy this privilege. On the first day of the week 
there, all go to church, or rather to Sunday school, which is 
generally held in the church. During the week children are 
taught, (and to the number, in all the islands, of about 2,500,) 
but on Sunday, all ages assemble, and the superintendents and 
others act in the capacity of teachers. On St. Helena's Island, 
the Baptist Church, a large brick building, was the place of 
meeting. "When I enteried, though not late, the house was well 
filled, and the exercises had begun. 

The teachers were scattered through the congregation, and 
with elementary books and large cards containing simple words 
were busy at work. These cards comprised such sentences as 
"God is love," "Thou shalt not steal," "Fear God; walk in His 
ways," etc., etc. In this manner they instructed the minds of 
these eager and docile people in the elements of our language, 
while at the same time they impressed upon their hearts the 
lessons of morality and religion. It was a pleasing sight. The 
people were decorous in their behavior, and tidy in their appear- 
ance. Thejtwere comfortably and even becomingly dressed, 
many of them wearing the clothes — frocks, jackets, etc. — that 
had been sent to them from Philadelphia. 

Here, among the teachers, were persons who at home belonged 
to diverse and often conflicting sects, all engaged, heartily and 
fraternally, in inculcating upon their hearers the fundamental 
doctrines of a common religion. There stood, card in hand, 
with the upturned faces of a large class before him, young Mr. 
Parke, son of Professor Parke, of Andover. Next to him, 
similarly occupied, stood Mr. Gannett, son of Rev. Dr. Gannett, 
successor to Dr. Channing. Not far off" was the Rev. Mr. 
French, of the Methodist Church; further on was Mr. Ruggles, 
a graduate of Yale, and near him Mr. Hooper, an alumnus of 


Harvard, the former a Presbyterian, the latter a Unitarian. 
Near by stood the two ladies who have gone out tinder the 
auspices of the Port Royal Relief Committee of Philadelphia, 
the one an earnest Baptist, the other a conscientious and con- 
sistent member of the church under the care of the Rev. Dr. 
Fumess. Near them stood a young lady who was a member of 
no religious denomination, but who had been tenderly and con- 
scientiously reared outside of sectarian pales, on the outskirts of 
liberal Quakerism. I thus specify, not to gratify curiosity, but 
to describe practically the character and mode of operation of 
the people engaged in this movement. 

When the school was about to close, it was announced that 
there was a gentleman present from Philadelphia, who would 
make some remarks. ^' Philadelphia," it was added, ^^is the 
place from which was sent that good bacon and that nice 
molasses." At this the people's fac^s lit up with an expression 
of pleasure and recognition. I was glad of the opportunity to 
give utterance to my feelings. I told them who I was, and what 
I had come for. That the people of Philadelphia were much 
interested in their condition ; that we had heard different reports 
about them ; that some had said that the black people of South 
Carolina were industrious and well disposed; willing to work if 
well treated, and not needing the whip. Others that these blacks 
were lazy and good for nothing; spoiled by kind treatment, and 
unmanageable without a master. That I had com9 to see what 
the truth was on this and other subjects, and that I was happy 
to say I had a good report to carry back; one that would delight 
the hearts of the many friends who would be wanting to hear 
what word I should bring. I had been pleased to have their 
assurances that they thanked heartily their distant benefactors, 
but that there might be no mistake on this head, I wished them 
now to tell me in their own words, just what to say when I should 
get home. " Shall I repeat what I have heard you say, that you 
thank them and pray God to bless them?" "Yes, sa; yes, 
massa," came from different parts of the house. "Stand up," 
said one of the teachers, "and speak out for yourselves." Upon 
this, they all rose, and then followed a fair shower of expres- 


sion. " Tell 'em, tank 'em ; tell 'em, tank 'em, massa. Tell 'em, 
tank 'em too much. Tell 'em God bless 'em; tell 'em God Al- 
mighty bless 'em." "I will," said I. "The very first opportu- 
nity I get I shall deliver your message." And now, my friends, 
you that have contributed to this holy charity — I have only to 
add that the blessings of the poor, and of them that have been 
ready to perish, have come upon you. 

As I was leaving the house, I was met at the door by a group 
whose hearts had not been sufficiently relieved, and who needed 
further expression. Said one woman, "Tell de Philadelphy 
people we tank em too much^ massa, too much." This, by the 
way, is a common phrase with these people when they want to 
express themselves strongly. It is a sort of fourth degree of 
comparison, as it were — 'much — more — very miich — too much. 
We heard it frequently used when they would be speaking of 
their contentment and gralitode. One man in the group took 
my hand and said, "Tell 'em tank 'em; tell em God bless 'em ;" 
and, as if straining for a climax, he added, in very fair English, 
" GHve 'em my complimentsr* 

The success of this enterprise is further proved by the industry 
and sobriety of these people and their susceptibility to control. 
Every day of the week, except Sunday, they were to be seen busily 
engaged at work. Idlers and loafers, there may have been, and 
doubtless were, but they never fell under my observation. Mr, 
WicklifiFe said at the anti-emancipation meeting lately, held in 
New York, that at Port Royal he had understood that the 
negroes would not work, and that for every man was needed a 
special driver. If Mr. Wickliffe had said that black was white, 
or that two and two did not make four, his assertion would not 
have been more directly contrary to the truth. 

These plantations are worked by purely voluntary labor ; the 
driver, now called leader, having no power to force, and the 
superintendents having an average each of five or six plantations 
to oversee, which, being often miles distant, they can only attend 
to by occasional visits. The blacks are very tractable. A threat 
of the law operates like magic. A superintendent told m§ that 
a driver on one of his plantations was unruly. He reasoned 


with him, but the driver was obstinate. At last he said, " If 
you don't go to work, I will speak to the Provost-Marshal and 
have you arrested/' The effect was instantaneous. The man was 
both overawed and flattered — flattered because he had now risen 
to the dignity of being subject to law. He was not to be handed 
to the overseer for a hundred lashes, but he was to be ai^ested ! 
The law, potent with all ignorant people, is trebly powerful with 
these. They are especially tractable under the management of 
Northern people. There is a universal feeling of admiration for 
and gratitude to the Northerners. 

Though badly treated by some of our soldiers, officers and 
privates, they are, nevertheless, discriminating, and give the 
'' Yankees," as tJiey call us, due credit and more for all than can 
be claimed for us. They are especially grateful and attached to 
the teachers and superintendents. They think Northern " gentle 
people," "purtier and purtier behatved" than "secesh gentle 
people." For they see in these Northern gentlemen and ladies 
not only all the external grace of their old masters and mis- 
tresses, but superadded a genial courtesy — an easy and sympa- 
thetic condescension — which they had not dreamed of before in 
white people. These young scholars from Cambridge and Yale, 
and young merchants from Boston and New York, come into 
their huts, take off their hats, sit down on their benches, listen 
with interest to their talk, and shed tears at the recital of their 
wrongs. I speak literally. No man with flesh in his heart can 
listen without emotion to the stories they tell. These ladies visit 
their sick ; put their soft white hands into the rough hands of 
the women field laborers ; dress their sores and otherwise minister 
to their daily wants. Such kindness, such tender and beautiful 
attentions they had never before thought possible ; as a conse- 
quence the teachers and superintendents thus acting can do with 
these simple people just what they please. 

The contrast drawn by the blacks between Northern and South- 
ern manners is not an unjust one. Slaveholders are, as a class, 
essentially vulgar and ill-bred. They may be familiar with the 
forms of politeness, but they are without its spirit. Yulgarians 
may pass for a time, with their equals or superiors, for ladies and 


gentlemen, but when they get among those whom they regard as 
below them, they are sure to betray themselves. " Be pitiful, be 
courteous ;** " condescend to men of low estate," are maxims of 
Christianity, the justice of which is acknowledged by the highest 
civilization. A man's behavior to his inferiors is the best test 
of his breeding. Tried by this, slaveholders as a class, are essen- 
tially vulgar. 

I have many facts in my note-book on this head, which, if 
there were time, would illustrate this point. I have scraps of the 
private history of leading ladies and gentlemen in Beaufort and 
round about, with names and circumstances, which show that the 
airs of superiority assumed by these people are utterly unsup- 
ported by character, and indicate that their pretensions from 
beginning are a lie and a sham. 

That the present condition of these people is in favorable con- 
trast with that under their -masters is evident from their songs, 
which constitute a striking feature in their manifestations of cha- 
racter. They are a musical people. When they work in concert, 
as in rowing or grinding at the mill, their hands keep time to 
music. Their boat songs are the ones most frequently heard. 
The islands are made and permeated by rivers and creeks, and 
the boiat furnishes the most common mode of locomotion. 

When the negroes begin to row, they at the same time begin to 
sing All their songs are in the minor key. If one chances to 
begin on the major, it quickly saddens and passes into the minor. 
Their songs are all religious, barcaroles and all. I speak with- 
out exception. So far as I heard or was told of their singing, it 
was all religious. None of their songs express mirth or present 
joy. The only joy expressed or implied is that of hope. " Rest 
at last," was their general burthen ; " Heaven is my home ;" 
" Have a little patience ;" " God will deliver" — ^these and the 
like were the refrains of all their ballads. 

There was one which on shore we heard more than any other, 
and which was irresistibly touching. It was a sort of ballad, 
known as " Poor Rosy, Poor Gal." It is impossible to give an 
idea of the effect of this or any of their songs by a mere recital 
or description. They are all exceedingly simple, both in senti- 

ment and melody. Each stanza contains but a single thought, 
set in perhaps two or three bars of music ; and yet as they sing 
it in alternate recitative and chorus, with varying inflections and 
dramatic turn, this simple and otherwise monotonous melody 
will, to a musical ear and a heart susqeptible of impression, have 
all the charm of variety. Take for instance, a few stanzas from 
the dirge of " Poor Rosy." Fancy the first line sung in the 
major key, and the two following changed by an easy transition, 
and with varying inflections, into the minor, and you will have 
some idea of the effect. 

Poor Rosy, poor gal ! 
Poor — Rosy — poor — gal I 
P-o-o-r R-o-s-y, p-o-o-r g-a-l! 

Heaven shall be my home. 

Hard trial in my way I 
Hard — trial — in — my — way ! 
H-a-r-d t-r-i-a-1 i-n m-y w-a-y ! 

Heaven shall be my home. 

"Wonder what de people want of me, 
Wonder — what — de — people — want — of-— me, 
W-o-nd-e-r w-h-a-t d-e x)-e-o-p-l-e w-a-n-t o f m-e. 
Heaven shall be my home. 

When I talk, I talk with God I 
When— I— talk— I— talk—with—God I 
W-h^-n I t^l-k I t-a-l-k w-i-t-h G-o-dl 
Heaven shall be my home. 

I asked one of these blacks — one of the most intelligent I had 
met — where they got these songs,. "Dey make 'em, sah." 
" How do they make them ?" After a pause, evidently casting 
about for an explanation, he said, " I'll tell you, it's dis way. 
My master call me up and orde^ me a short peck of corn and a 
hundred lash. My friends see it and is sorry for me. When 
dey come to de praise meeting dat night dey sing about it. 
Some's very good singers and know how ; and dey work it in ; 
work it in, you know, till they get it right; and dat's de way." 
A very satisfactory explanation ; at least so it seemed to me. 


I said these songs were all in the minor key. This is not 
qiiiie the fact. Thej have one that has a cheerfhl, and, as it 
sounded when I first heard it, a hilarious ring. It is a new one, 
made, as they said, ^' since secesh times." It runs thus : 

No more driyer call for me, 

No more driyer call ; 
No more driyer call for me, 

Many a thousand die I 

No more peck of corn for me, 

No more peck of corn ; 
No more peck of com for me. 

Many a tboasand die. 

No more hundred lash for me. 

No more hundred lash ; 
No more hundred lash for me, 


Many a thousand die ; 

and so on, recounting all the incidents of slave life. 

When I first heard this song I was going from Hilton Head to 
Beaufort in a boat rowed by a half dozen men detailed from the 
1st Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers* They were in fine 
voice and spirits, and the echoes came back from the inlets of 
Ladies and St. Helena with fine efiect. As we passed along we 
encountered a boat load of black people rowing in the opposite 
direction. They were acquaintances of our oarsmen, and, after 
the first salutation, asked what those clothes meant ? Our crew 
were dressed in the blue blouse and pants and felt hat, which 
constitute the uniform of the regiment. They explained— one 
of them adding, in a tone of laughing triumph, " We*s Uncle 
Sam's chiFn now ; we's Uncle Sam's chil'n now ; we's none of 
your fiel* bans'." The others looked envious and passed on. 
The fact that these people are thought worthy to be enlisted as 
soldiers adds much to their self respect. 

I dwell on these songs not as a matter of entertainment, but 
of instruction. They tell the whole story of these people's life 
and character. There is no need, after hearing them, to inquire 
into the history of the slave's treatment. Recitals of this kind 


one will hear enough of, whether he desires it or not ; for these 
poor things, having now, for the first time in their lives, sympa- 
thetic listeners, pour out their hearts in narrations which nothing 
but flint can resist. I ought to add, before leaving this subject, 
that their songs, like their talk, are couched in a barbarous 
Africanized sort of English, and are Sometimes quite unintelli- 
gible. In the specimens I have here given I have not followed 
their pronunciation. 

The success of a judicious system of free labor at the South is 
insured by the large development on the part of the blacks of the 
religious sentiment. As persons deprived of one sense acquire 
greater susceptibility in those that remain, so it would seem that 
these people, degraded in body, stunted in intellect, scarred and 
twisted out of shape in their muscular and mental forms of ex- 
istence, have acquired additional strength in their spiritual life. 
Religion is universal among them. To be sure, in most cases it 
is a mere sentiment or habit, and not sufficient to preserve them 
against temptation ; but in many cases it is a living and active 
operative principle. Their convictions are strong and their ex- 
periences vivid. They speak of "hearing God," and of God's 
" talking to" them, with a simplicity of faith which sounds fa- 
natical, but to the philosophic mind it is by no means inconsistent 
with reason. Their spiritual perceptions are like those of sight 
or sound, and it is thus that they are supported in their trials. 
God is a present refuge to them in every time of trouble. 
"Francis," said I to an old gray-haired man who was conning 
over his spelling book, " why do yon take the trouble to learn to 
read ? You say it is hard work and very discouraging ; why do 
you try?" "Because, massa, I want to be satisfied; I want to 
read de Word of God." " But cfe*< you know the Word of God 
without reading it in a book ?" " Yes, massa, I do know it ; I 
know it hereT' striking himself on the breast ; "but I want to 
read it for myself." I had aske^the same question of an elderly 
woman, on the Sunday previous, at Sunday-school. She was one 
of those spiritual-faced ones whom you will sometimes find amongst 
the most illiterate. Her countenance told a story of suffering 
and of triumph. " Tamar," said I, " why, at your age, do you 


take so much trouble to learn to read ?" " Because I urant to 
read de Word of the Lord." "But can't you know the Word of 
the Lord without reading it ?'* " Yes, massa, I can hear it, but I 
want to read it." " How can you hear it?'* "I hear de voice 
Acre," laying her hand on her heart ; " I have hearn it, massa." 
"When, Tamar, did you^ever hear it?" Turning, upon me her 
full, deep eyes, she said : " One morning, sah ; one morning I went 
out to de woods before daylight to pray. My heart was full of 
sorrow ; and when I was praying, de Lord spoke to me !" " And 
what did he say, Tamar ?" " He said, ' Tamar ! all you's sins 
is forgiven ; you's my chile.' " "Well," said I, waiting for her 
to go on. " Den I was filled with lub and joy ; my heart was full 
of lub for everybody." " Not for your old master too, Tamar ?" 
" Yes, sir, for my master and eberybody," Now who will say 
that this old woman had not heard the voice of God? And 
whose religious faith will bear a stronger test than hers ? 

Religion has afforded thefe people their only resource ; they 
have no amusements, no diversions, no social visiting. Their 
children have no plays — no games — such as joyous childhood 
naturally demands. To the older ones the "praise house" 
(prayers' house), as the hut in which they hold their meetings 
is called, is the only recreation. Here, as one of their songs goes, 

Sing apd pray 

Their souls away. 

in sweet forgetfulness of their wrongs. 

The night after the bacon arrived from Philadelphia, the people 
on Pope's plantation gathered in the " praise house," and sung 
and prayed till broad daylight. It was an assurance to them that 
God had raised up for them friends at a distance, who would pro- 
vide for their wants. In the camp of the black regiment there 
is, I was told, a prayer-meeting in one or other of the tents every 
night. I may here add, in passing, that there is no better be- 
haved set of men on Hilton Head than this same " First Regi- 
ment of South Carolina Volunteers." Their appearance, in their 
dark blue uniform, is quite imposing. They handle the musket 
with as much dexterity as other new recruits, and their proficiency 


in marching is more rapid. Their camp is kept neat and tidy, 
and they compare well in all respects with others of more favored 
complexion. As for their military capacity, and the wisdom of 
Gen. Hunter in enrolling them as soldiers, I say nothing here ; 
not for want of well settled convictions on these points, but be- 
cause these points are not embraced in the range of inquiry, the 
results of which it is my business here to report. 

But I must hasten on. I should be glad to speak of the fela- 
tion which this movement sustains to military people and affairs 
in South Carolina, and of the deep interest in its success whkh 
has been taken by distinguished officers of the army and navy. 
I refer more particularly to Gen. Hunter and Com. DupOnt. 
Both of these gentlemen — and they are in all respects gentlemen 
— »more than can be said of many others high in military and 
naval command — ^have shown themselves philanthropists, as Well 
as patriots with a just sense of the honor of the country, by the 
core they have taken to protect and provide for the unhappy 
people who have been thrown upon the nation's charity. 

The Port Royal Relief Committee, more deeply impressed than 
ever with the importance of their Work, desire now to prosecute 
it with increased efficiency. They will be calling for funds and 
clothes, and superintendents for the plantations, and teachers. 
There will be no need hereafter to send provisions ; the Goveml- 
ment will see to that. But clothes for the aged, for the infirm, 
and for children, will have to come for a while yet from the chari- 
ties of the people. 

The able-bodied can support themselves, but they must be pro- 
tected from imposition. It is contemplated by the committee to 
establish a store on one of the islands, at which goods can be 
bought at rates covering first cost and transportation. This is 
deemed necessary to save these poor people from the exactions to 
which they are subject from the traders and sutlers, who first rob 
them of their money and then shlnder their character. 

Thirty new superintendents are needed at this moment on 
plantations. Of these, Boston will furnish ten, New York ten, 
and Philadelphia ought to send the other ten. Gen. Saxton, on 
the part of the Government, will pay these superintendents fifty 


dollars a month. Teachers are also wanted. These will derive 
their support from the Relief Committee ; their pay will not be 
such as to make the appointment an object, as twenty-five dol- 
lars a month will be the maximum. 

The qualifications required on the part of both superintendents 
and teachers are, good health, good sense, and a hearty good will 
for the work. Of the ninety odd who went out last spring, quite 
a number proved incompetent. These had not gone from the right 
motive, nor were they of the right spirit. They went, hoping 
the climate would be good for their health, or from a spirit of ro- 
mance, or to see a semi-tropical country with its peculiar produc- 
tions, or in a spirit of sectarian religious zeal, or ftom some other 
motive not essentially unselfish, and in harmony with an all-per- 
vading desire to be useful. As a consequence, they soon got 
tired ; or their coadjutors got tired of them. There was a great 
deal of work to be done ; aqd to them the lif? was one of dull, 
monotonous drudgery. They have, therefore, come home. Those 
that remain have a heart for the work. It is their delight. The 
good they do is palpable ; and they have the reward in their own 
bosoms. More like these are needed, especially as superinten- 
dents. It is not the pushing, driving, and rough-and-ready kind 
of people, that are sometimes called '* practical," that are most 
needed. The forces of chief avail here are those of a spiritual 
nature, such as proceed from a heart devoted to the work, and 
from manners and character that inspire resp'ect. The best 
educated and best bred people, other things being equal, are 
the best qualified for usefulness in this enterprise. The blacks 
have quick intuitions ; a man of coarse nature is sure to be 
detected. Experience at Port.JRoyal has proved that refinement 
in a superintendent is all important, both in order to commend 
the man to the confidence of the blacks and the enterprise to the 
respect of white cavillers aroun^ who are ever on the look out 
for grounds *of objection. But I will add nothing more on this 
point — ^broad as is the subject — nor on any other, at this time. 
The night is hot, and I have trespassed, already too long on your 
forbearance. Thanking you for your patience, I here abruptly 
close my remarks. 





To STEPHEN GOLWEL.L., Esq.., Ohialrmaxi of tlie Port 

Hoyal Helief* tee. 

Philadelphia, July 24, 1862. 

Dear Sir: — I comply with your request to add in this form, 
what, for lack of time, I was obliged to oinit in my address of 
the 9th inst., as well as to restate some things which for the sake 
of condensation, were left out of the published report. 

I. One point alluded to on that occasion, but not discussed, 
was the mooted one of the black man's courage. Has the negro 
the spirit — the pluck — ^to do his proper part in maintaining the 
%tatu9 now, or hereafter to be, assigned to him ? This is a prac- 
tical query, clearly within the scope which, as I understand it, 
my inquiries were expected to take. I will answer it by the 
statement of a few facts, general and particular — -pro and eon. 
First, general and con: 

Servitude is not a condition favorable to the growth of cou- 
rage. Chattel slavery, in fact as well as in law, unmans its vic- 
tims. The Helots were not so brave as their Spartan masters. 
The African, on his own continent, and on this, is of a milder 
type of character, and less given to war than the Anglo-Saxon 
or Celt. The negroes in our Southern States have not, since 
th« breaking out of this rebellion, made haste to rise in insurrec- 
tion ; neither do they now show any especial eagerness to enlist 
as soldiers. In certain contingencies, not unlikely to happeil, it 
would not be safe to count confidently on their fighting qualities. 

But, on the other hand, man is a fighting animal. Courage is 
an essential quality of his nature. The power to face danger, 
and death if needs be, without flinching, is common to the whole 
human family, in all countries, and under all circumstances. 
While the Helots were not equal to their masters, nevertheless, 
as soldiers under them they made the Spartan arms invincible to 


the Tforld. The African naturally prefers the toils of peace; 
but he has always, when occasion required it, shown himself 
capable of the arts of wai*. Up to this time in his history he 
has never failed to fight when he has had at the same time the 
motive and the id^itiis. His record on his native continent, in 
our revolutionary Wa;r, in the war of 1812, and in the history of 
San Domingo, furnish ample illustrations of this fact. 

"Then why does he not now rise," it is asked, "in insurrec- 
tion?" I myself pvtt this question to an intelligent negro, well 
known at Beailferl^ FVin<)e Rivers by natde, now a Sergeant in 
the First Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers. "Why," 
said I, " don't the blacks on the main now rise against their 
masters?" "Lord, sah," was the reply, "what would be de 
use? Dey has Ao chaiice. What could dey do? no gun, no 
s\^brd, no knowledge, ilo chance — ^no nuthin'." 

"But suppose they had a chance, would they fight then?" 
" Je*, sah.*' "flow do you know they would?" "'Cause I 
knoiif dey would. Onl/lfejt 'em know for sure— /of sure, mine 
you — dat de white people means right; let 'em know for surci 
dat dey's fightiii' for themselves, aritf I kfiotid dey will fight." 
"Well, Prince, wouMri't you call this a good chance?" "Yes, 
sah; I do call this a good chance, and I tell my people may be 
it's de la^ chaiiee. Dat's de reason I jine de soldier. I wad 
gettin' big wages in Beaufort, but I'd rather take less, and fight 
for de United Statieift ; for I believe de CTnited States is fightin' 
for me, arid for my people," "Do your people gienerally feel as 
you do?" "No, sah; but dey would if dey knowed de same as 
I do." This is tlie testimony, substantial^ in his own words, of 
a black man, who is regarded where he liviei^ as in all respects 
cottt^^tent to bear lirtfUeiA on the subject. 

In one of ttiy vilsit^ tO the town of Beaufcgrt, I conversed with 
Hannah Small, Wiffe rf Robert Small, thi6 h^i^o of the "Planter," 
arid' heard from Hef tM^ Whole story of that adventure. Accord- 
ing to her stateriWirif^ which was amply cOh^obotated by fact^ 
previously knOWfa, tMe rii^ri attid Woinen etfgs^d'iri that exploit 
were ariitnatecf by d^cdt^^ thttt'WBtQd M e^ual to any of the 
perils incident t6' i dbn^tibri of w'a*. TBfe- Whole party ha<f 
8<*emnly agrtfeftf iil iAHiti^t that if ptttttt^; aM ^thout hope o{ 
e8ca)[Je, tHe ship i^iwl* be sicuttled and suriR'; and tliat, if she 
should riot go dsim fttft ifnot^h to prfevejit (i4|^turt, they shouWf 


all take hands, husband and wife, brother and sister, and jump 
overboard and perish together ! Now, I think that, if you will 
add to the courage evinced in this transaction by the whole 
party, the cool, stragetic skill of its leaders, you will have a fact 
that will throw some light on this mooted question. 

Before leaving the island I had a letter from a gentleman — 
one of the superintendents — containing an incidental allusion to 
this subject, which it may not be amiss here to quote : 

"Ordinarily," says the writer, "the blacks show a lack of 
courage, but when an emergency occurs, they display a coolness 
which I would like to commend to their white brethren. About 
ten days ago wo were roused from our beds about daylight by 
one of the neighboring superintendents, with the cry that the 
rebels were upon us, and that we must eo to the boats imme- 
diately. All were startled, and much panic prevailed among the 
whites, (there were three men of us and two women,j and two of 
the men undertook in an excited manner to force the men of 
color to leave their families. The colored men stood calm, and 
did not move, till one of them said, ^If magsa will tell us what 
to do, we'll do whatever massa says.' Then being directed, they 
took hold, and we were soon in our boat and under way. A 
short time after we left, some Union pickets came in, and in an 
excited manner told the people that the rebels would be there in 
twenty minutes, and would bum the plantation house. 

"They were believed; but instead of runninff oflF as we did, 
the women of the party collected wit household stuff, clothing 
and valuables, placed them in a box, while the men took it on 
their heads, went to the woods near by, dug a large pit, and 
buried the box, and covered the place with brushwood ; after 
that they went about taking care of themselves, and looking after 
their own things. They then placed the old pieople and children 
in little canoes, ran them into creeks into the marsh during hieh 
tide, and there remained concealed in the high grass for six 
hours, till return tide, under a blazing sun. Everything was 
done coolly and with method. I could but notice the contrast." 

II. Speaking, in my address, of the goods sent to the blacks, 
the clothing, made and unmade, etc., I intimated that their dis- 
tribution was not made wholly as an act of charity, but that a 
portion of them were sold. The money to pay for these goods 
was made by the negroes by picking and packing cotton, planting 
the new crop— « dollar an acre on which had been paid by Mr. 
Pierce — and selliikg chickens^ eggSy vegetables, fresh fish, and 
the like, to the soldiers. The negroes show quite a Yankee turn 
for traiBc. This may be noticed by any one who will watch 


them on the beach at Hilton Head, where they come in their 
canoes to dispose of their commodities. The men of the 100th 
Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts 1st are quite sharp at driving 
a bargain, but the negroes are fully a match for them. They 
will dispose of their half-fledged chickens at fifty cents a pair, 
their eggs at a quarter 'of a dollar a dozen, and their scanty 
strings of mullet or whiting at "a quarter," in as short a time 
and with as much ease as would any old Jersey marketman, 
brought up to the business on the curbstones of Philadelphia. 

On my return from my tour I brought home to the Treasurer 
of the Committee nearly ^300 — the proceeds in cash of goods 
sold from the Philadelphia boxes on the island of St. Helena. 
Mr. Philbrick, one of the superintendents from Boston on the 
same island, told me that he had sold for cash goods to the 
amount of about ^800, and that he could have made the amount 
larger if he had had the articles. He had purchased the goods 
out of his own pocket, amj sold them at wholesale prices, his 
object being to accommodate the people and save them from the 
extortion of sutlers and other traders. Since coming North, I 
have received a letter from this gentleman, in which he gives the 
items of his sales, which items throw incidental light on another 
subject germane to this, and I will therefore quote them. They 
are as follows : — ^ 

Sugar, at 12c per lb. — 1 bbl.. 
Molasses, 50c per gallon — 4 bbls., . 

Shoes, at $1 per pair, 

Salt, at $1 per bushel, . . 

Cotton Denims, 15c per yard— 2,420 yards, . 

Tobacco, at 20c and 38c per lb., 

Soap, at 20c per bar, ..... 

Ready-made clothing, .... 

$816 52 

Connected with this, let me state that among the Philadelphia 
articles that were exposed for sale a few days before I left, were 
a quantity of very small, low-priced looking glasses, and a half- 
dozen iron pots and pans. The former came into immediate 
request, and for the latter — there not being enough to supply the 
demand — there was almost a scramble. 

The point on which "incidental light'* is thrown by these 
facts, is, the enlarged market for Northern manufactures that 

$18 22 

78 80 

40 00 

19 00 

363 00 

68 00 

6 50 

223 00 

wiU be created by an enlarged area ^ fr,e^<^l^. liie average 
cost of maintaining a slave, independent of his food, has been 
coQiputed at ^IZ 50 per annum for a field-h^and, or $4 50 a head 
all found. This covers the expense of two suits of clotihies, two 
shirts, and every six years a pair of blankets ; and, for field- 
hands only — ^that is, for about one out of every three — a chip 
hat, or cheap cap, and one pair of shoes ; and, for such as are 
old enough to need it, one handkerchief. Whatever they get 
over this, as a general thing, they buy out of their own earnings. 
Now, it will be seen that, as soon as these people become free, 
their wants increase. They begin to demand articles of clothing 
like that worn by the laborers at the Nordi ; and articles of house 
use also, such as pots, kettles, pans, brushes, brooms, knives, 
forks, spoons, soap, candles, combs, Yankee clocks, etc., etc* 
Son;!^ of these articles are already in requqat ; others are coming 
into demand. Ten thousand new customers, to be sure, is not a 
very large number in the aggregate of a nation, but they are 
sufficient to effect somewhat the gains of Northern men of busi- 
ness. Now fancy this 10,000 multiplied by 400, making 4,000,- 
000, the total number of slaves in the country, and what an 
overwhelming economical argument does it furnish in favor of 
pushing this Port Boyal experiment to its logical conclusion. 
# III. The subject of climate is one which, in this connection, 
needs a passing notice. It is a matter on which much ignorance 
prevails, and in regard to which even the best informed acknow- 
ledge a want of light. The climate question at the South has 
been made subservient to the slavery question, and there is rea- 
son to believe that the alleged facts propagated from that quarter, 
in favor of the one, are not much more to be relied upon than 
those that have been put forward in support of the other. 

The favorite theory of the Charleston savans, as stated in the 
loose phraseology in which one oftenest hears it is : "A night 
on the plantations during the height of summer is almost certain 
death to a Northern white man ;" or, as it is put forward by its 
more cautious advocates : " The Southern climate is fatal to un- 
acclimated white people ; they cannot bear the sun in day time, 
nor breathe the air at night without imminent danger of life." 
The inference they desire to be drawn from this is, that cotton, 
rice and sugar can only be raised successfully at the South by 
black slave labor. Now, whatever may be the truth on the 

geneml subjects of oiimate And slavery, tbe fact of this argHment 
is as lame as its logic. Our soldiers on Hilton Head, refmtedly 
one of the least healthfiil of the islands, toil in the sun bj day 
and stand guard at night ; and yet up to this time they appear 
to be as healthy as the same number of men in similar seryice in 
otiher parts of the field. .• White carpenters from the North, who 
have been working for the government there, say that they can 
bear exposure to the weather as well and even better than the 
colored carpenters woarking alongside of them. They can stand 
the sun nearly as well, and the rain and the sudden changes of 
the weather a great deal better, 

I was admonished, while debating whether or not to undertake 
this tour, that it would be dangerous to go to Port Royal after 
the 1st of June. When I had made up my mind to go, I was 
advised not to expose myself to the sun ; to keep in out of the 
night air ; not to sleep with my windows open ; not to drink the 
water of the country, but instead to slake my thirst with tea, 
coflFee, or claret ! But I did go after the 1st of June ; I exposed 
myself considerably to the sun, and spent a large part of nearly 
every night in the open air ; I always slept with my windows 
open ; and I drank the water freely ; in no instance resorting to 
either tea, coffee, or claret as a means of quenching my thirst ; 
and yet I never enjoyed better health in my life than I did there 
and since my return. 

I am aware that " one swallow does not make a summer,** nor 
one summer pro^e the truth of a theory ; but when the experience 
of a single individual is sustained by that of a whole body — as 
is mine by that of the teachers and superintendents — a fact is 
furnished of some significance ; and the presumption is raised 
that if one half of the pro-slavery climatic theory rests upon 
false data, as has been shown to be the case, the other half may 
not be much more firmly supported. 

That there will be sickness — epidemic sickness — in many cases 
fatal sickness, in these islands this summer, is more than prob- 
able. A rank vegetation under a high solar heat, long continued, 
must produce malaria, which in turn must produce disease ; but 
that this disease will be more virulent, or more widely spread 
than the epidemics of other low lands, in regard to which there 
is no especial fear — as for instance, the valleys of the west, or 
the Atlantic flats of the east, is a matter in regard to which much 


may be said on both sides. For, as a set-off against the heat of 
the sun at Port Royal, it must be remembered there is the re- 
freshing sea breeze ; and, as a counteractive of the miasmata in 
the air, there is the salt with which the atmosphere is at all times 
more or less imp(!regnated. 

In view of all these facts, the most intelligent people on the 
island, with whom I conversed, expressed but little apprehension 
of disease. The truth is, more concern was manifested about 
the musquitoes and fleas than about yellow fever. The one was 
a present and actual evil, the other a future and contingent one. 
As it was, the teachers and superintendents were cheerful and 
happy. Most of them were willing to remain throughout the 
season. They had come there from a high sense of duty, and 
there, from the same motive, they meant to abide. At the end 
of three months they will be able to give more information about 
the climate of South Carolina than can probably be learned from 
any other source. 

IV. Independent of the matter of climate, there are other 
sanitary aspects to this question which demand a share of atten- 
tion. There is reason to suspect that the slaveholder's thera- 
peutics are as much at fault as his ethics or economics. 
The Southern medical man delights in the "heroic system." 
His favorite reliances are mercury, antimony, and cantharides ; 
drastic doses inwardly and torturing applications outwardly. 
When well, a Southern man's diet is salt pork, with stimulating 
drinks to make it digestible ; when sick, his medicine an exhaust- 
ing cathartic to " clear him out,*' and a horse-power tonic to build 
him up. In other words, the knocking down and jerking up 
practice* of the plantation carried into medicine ; and this prac- 

* I brought away with me from the islands two slave-holders* journals 
which came into my possession there, which contain many curious things, 
and among the rest copious notes of medical practice. One of these, 
slightly abbreviated, but in its original language, I copy by way of illus- 
tration, taking it at random from a number of the same kind. It is as 
follows : 

" Charlotte* 8 Case o^ Tiphot Pneumonia, — On Tuesday she came to me 
and said she had a bile under her arm which gave her fever. Ordered 
poultice and a ci ose of salts. Next morning pult quicker and quicker ; 
salts had acted freely. Next evening my wife told me she was brought 
to the yard, and she thought her quite an ill negro. Saw her and found 
my wife's opinion correct, and that she had began to do what was proper, 
viz : gave her flaxseed tea, with a little Tartar. Found to bleed ner im- 
possible : the Golden time had passed. She complained of violent head- 


tice carried out with rigid uniformity and disregard of exceptional 
cases. The same prescriptions (the expense being equal) for 
the black man, whose blood is thin from a hominy diet and pros- 
trating labor, as for the white man whose vessels are turgid with 
a surplus of meat and riotous living. Surely if a Southerner 
can stand all this, and his <!limate besides, it is fair to suppose 
that a Northern man, with a constitution at least equal and a 
better system of hygiene and medicine, might risk a residence at 
Port Royal with the hope of surviving it. 

Investigation and experiments will, in all probability, show 
that the health diflSculty in the way of reconstruction at the 
South is no more formidable than others which have already 
found a solution. Perhaps it will turn out in the matter of 
medicine, as in that of morality and religion, that the best wis- 
dom is to be found with the slaves. " I thank thee, Father, 
Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things 
from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes." A 
medical gentleman on Port Royal Island, who serves the Asso- 
ciation in the double capacity of surgeon and superintendent, 

ache. Ordered mustard poultice back of the neck. Finding next day 
that the disease was very obstinate, pult increasing in quickness and 
symptoms more aggravating, I put on a blister and commenced with 
small doses of calomel, nitre and opium, continuing the flax tea and Tar- 
tar. Saturday, the fourth day, no better ; applied blister again and added 
a little more calomel. Symptoms ' increasingly worse, and now pult 120. 
Fifth day applied another blister and the same prescriptions as the day 
before. Sixth day no better. Saw Dr. H. M. Fuller acid got his advice. 
Becommended stimulants composed of ammonia and pepper, and said I 
must depend principally upon the blisters, which I have done, but see as 
yet no earthly benefit derived from anything yet made use of. Seventh 
day another blister and pepper tea more freely ; her breathing more diffi- 
cult and some reluctance to swallow ; a vacant look and somewhat deaf. 
Eighth day weaker and worse ; tried another blister and had to give her 
wine whey to hold her up, with the ammonia and pepper tea ; but all in 
vain ; she kept growing weaker and weaker until about nine o'clock at 
night, she died. Thus has terminated a case which has caused me mor» 
anxiety and concern than any case of a colored person I have ever at- 

It ought to be added that the cure of souls, not of the body, was the 
professional function of this gentleman. 

It is impossible to read this extract without being reminded of Charles 
Lamb's letter to Bernard Barton : 

" Did you ever have an obstinate cold — a six or seven weeks' uninter- 
mitting chill and suspension of hope, fear, conscience, and everything ? 
Yet do I try all I can to cure it ; I try wine and spirits, and smoking, and 
snuff in unsparing quantities, but they only seem to make me worse in- 
stead of better. I sleep in a damp room, but it does me no good ; I come 
home late o'nights, but do not find any visible amendment !" 


informed me that oo entering upon his duties he found a large 
number of the people ill with small-pox and other fevers of a dan- 
gerous character ; that not one of the small-pox cases had proved 
fatal, though some of them were very aggravated, and that he 
ascribed this fact more to the skill and judgment of an old black 
nurse whom he had found there, than to any power of his own 
in the healing art. In a letter which this gentleman has since 
written me he thus alludes to this subject : 

" I owe much of my success to the presence of a very excel- 
lent and intelligent colored woman — ' Aunt Hannah' — who has 
been unremitting in her labors. I generally administered a laxa- 
tive in the initial stages of the fever, and after that, teas, as 
practised by the black nurses — such as orange leaf, rosemary, and 
life everlasting. This I did from the conviction that it would be 
unwise to depart from uniform habits so long established and so 
deeply rooted. The result has been exceedingly gratifying, and 
has taught me that all of wisdom is not confined to the ^ schools.' 
The method of treatment by the nurses is exceedingly simple, 
and I am now satisfied very effectual. I am not ashamed to say 
that I have learned many useful lessons from these simple people.*' 

The blacks on these islands have, from tradition and experi- 
ment, accumulated many facts in regard to the healing powers of 
roots, herbs, and the like, which men of science might turn to 
good account. They themselves, however, express more faith in 
the white man's medicines than in their own. When I would ask 
them what they did in this, that, or the other kind of sickness ; 
what they gave for this, and what they took for that, they would 
answer invariably by mentioning some drug of the apothecary, 
such as ipecac, calomel, salts, or something else that "massa" 
would give them. " But suppose your master was not near, and 
that there was no white man to give you anything — ^then what 
would you do ?" " Den we take orange leaf — de sour orange, not 
de sweet (the native seedling, not the grafted), and we make tea 
of him ; dat make we sweat and take away the fever ;" or, " we 
tie up de head wid ^gympson'* leaves (stramonium); dat make 
we quiet and stop de pain ;" or, "we give it (the child) Asia root 
tea ; dad bery good for de worms," etc., etc. By a course of in- 
terrogation like this, facts were elicited showing that these igno- 
rant people have quite a copious pharmacopoeia. They have their 
sudorifics, anthelmintics, diuretics, carminatives, antispasmodics, 
etc., etc., some of which they claim to be specifics, and none of 
which certainly are any the less valuable because called by a 

homely negro name, instead of a learned technic from the dic- 
tionary. It is fair to presume that among the simple remedies 
of these people are to be found some quite as efficacious and a 
good deal less dangerous than many that are weighed out from 
the shelves of the apothecary. It is to be hoped that Gen. Sax- 
ton will have on his medical staff men competent and willing to 
give to this subject the attention due to its importance. The sani- 
tary question is closely allied to the slavery question ; whatever 
throws light upon the one aids in the solution of the other. 

V. I have in my possession some letters from gentlemen at 
Port Royal which I should have been pleased to introduce in the 
course of my address at Sansom Hall ; but there was not time; 
neither is there space here. Nevertheless, as some of them con- 
tain testimony corroborative of statements made in the speech, 
as well as new matter for thought and reflection, I will take the 
liberty of making a few quotations. The first ahall be from ^, 
letter from Mr. Philbrick, the superintendent from Boston, to 
whom reference has already been made. He says : 

" They (the blacks) work on with a degree of confidence and 
industry that has surprised me. Though we came on to the ground 
nearly two months later than the date when they generally begin 
to prepare for the new crops, we have planted more than half the 
ground that was planted last year, including a much larger breadth 
of corn. The generally expressed feeling is one of content ; they 
are willing to endure a certain amount of privation for the sake 
of being their own masters. There is, too, a very general feel- 
ing of religious trust ; a feeling that God has interfered to drive 
away their old masters and give them a chance for themselves. 
. . . . They never refer to their masters' cruelty unless 
cloaely questioned. I have not searched for cases of this kind^ 
because I thought it a waste of time to talk over past troubles 
when the present hour was so crowded with duties. The have no 
malice in their hearts. 

" I overheard one of the servants in this house, the other day, 
telling another that he ought to pray for ^old massa.' 'No, I 
won't,' said Joe, ' I can't pray for him.' ' Oh, yes,* said Flora^ 
' who knows but he may now be perishing for want of a meal's 
victuals, while you have plenty.' There is a lesson, thought I, 
in Christian forgiveness, which a woman of more culture would 
do well to study. I do not believe there is another race in the 
world so docile or so easily managed. I am confident that no 
Irishman could be induced to perform the amount of labor they 
have accomplished this year with so little definite promise of pay- 
ment. They work well and willingly whenever they see clearly 



J that they are to profit by their labor. It is to be regretted that 

^ so large a portion of their work this year has been upon a common 

field, where there was not felt that individual interest which alox^e 
can stimulate labor to its best results. This gang system is a 
relic of the old slave system, and it must be abandoned when the 
people come to work for regular wages. 

" I will only say, in conclusion, that I came here from my home 
in dear old Massachusetts, impelled by a sense of duty, to see 
what could be done toward organizing a system of free labor oat 
of the crumbling ruins of the old method. I have become deeply 
interested in the work, and shall continue here from the same 
motive that brought me till I see the organization sufficiently per- 
fected to stand alone and sustain itself as a beacon light before 
the world." 

Mr. Richard Soule, Jr., also of Massachusetts, in a letter con- 
taining much valuable information, has the following : 

"There is but one feeling among the negroes in respect to their 

5 resent condition as compared with that under their old masters. 
?hey consider themselves much better off, and have no desire for 
the return of their masters. They would take to the woods or 
escape in boats, they all say, if they had any intimation that their 
masters were coming back. 

" Our experiment here has fully satisfied me of two things : 
first, that the negroes will do as much work in the condition of 
freemen, and under a judicious system of day-wages, as they for- 
merly did under the stimulus of the lash ; secondly, that there is 
no need of providing for the emigration of any considerable por^ 
tion of them, as they would prefer to stay where they are, and 
as their services will be required on the places where they have 
been accustomed to labor. 

" The time has arrived, it seems to us, for the Government to 
take some definite steps in this matter. If the %tatu% of these 
blacks is now that of freemen, let us know it beyond a doubt, 
and then we can work for their improvement and elevation,* both 
physically and morally, with much better heart than we do now, 
when the future seems so uncertain. 

" If they are declared to be free, my plan would be to pay them 
day wages for their work, and require them to purchase all they 
need in the way of food and clothing, abolishing the present sys- 
tem of allowances and gratuities of land for private cultivation. 
I would have an account kept of their hours of work, precisely 
as is done in our workshops in the North, the pay to be graduated 
according to the amount of work done. In this way they would 
soon learn to appreciate the advantages of industry, and would 
soon acquire the thrifty habits of freemen. 

'* The improvement of their physical condition being first se- 
cured, I would make provisions for their education by establish- 


ing schools in convenient localities, with competent teachers, to 
be paid in part at first, and wholly by and by, by a tax on the 
parents. It would not take a long time, I think, to make the 
entire population self-supporting, and to enable the more thrifty 
of them to accumulate something in advance of their immediate 

I have one more letter from which I desire to quote, and I 
shall have done. It is from the '^ medical gentleman" above re- 
ferred to, Dr. James P. Greves, superintendent and physician on 
Edgely plantation. Port Royal Island. 

" When I arrived on the 15th of March, I found everything 
here in a chaotic state. Being suddenly left by their former 
masters, who also took with them the teams on the place and 
many implements ; afterwards the United States troops taking all 
their cattle, milch cows, sheep, and other stock — even their corn, 
they seemed to be at a loss what to do. Of course no work of 
any consequence was done, and without a forthcoming crop they 
must starve, or be sustained by the Government. They therefore 
cordially welcomed me, and agreed to work under my directions. 
I found but one mule to do the ploughing ; therefore most of the 
work must be done by the hoe. 

^^ To add to the difficulties, the small-pox made its appearance 
in an aggravated form, and there being no one here to caution 
them, very many had been exposed to its contagion. The result 
has been that out of 71 residents on the place, 29 have had small- 
pox, and many have been prostrated with other forms of sickness, 
measles being also very prevalent. No one case of small-pox has 
proved fatal. I owe much, etc." (already quoted). " With all 
these drawbacks there are now planted, and in fine growing con- 
dition, about 90 acres of corn, 48 of cotton, and 17 of sweet po- 
tatoes, peas, and other vegetables. If the season prove favorable, 
we shall have a surplus. At present, the population is almost 
entirely sustained by Government, and must so continue to be till 
the corn is ripe. They are generally destitute of clothing of all 
kinds. Their masters issued to them their last supply in Decem- 
ber, 1860 ; consequently they ^suffer from want of necessary 
clothing. This want has been pariially supplied from the North; 
but very few shoes have been sent. We need shoes now for fall use. 
Flannels, when they can be had, are worn the year round, on 
account of the humidity of the climate. I would here state, to 
the honor of our soldiers, that many of the people would have 
been naked, had they not received clothing from them. 

" I have been impressed from the first with the belief that the 
primary care of the superintendents should be for the welfare of 
their bodies. Very little real progress can be made in reforming 


any people whose physique is neglected. They are naturally a 
reugious class, and that part of their nature needs but little di- 
rect stimulation ; but they need to be led into correct habits of 
body, and how can this be accomplished if they are allowed 
to continue to live in filthy, dark and contracted huts? You 
have seen a specimen of them. How can you raise a healthy 
ambition among such a people under such circumstances ? Im- 
prove their physical, and they will rapidly improve in the moral 
and religious departments of their nature. In school they learn 
rapidly, and all ages join, from gray hairs to childhood. For 
the first four weeks, I taught in the evening, being too much 
occupied through the day by other pressing duties. Since that 
time, assisted by Miss Howell and Miss Wright, we have had 
four sessions a day, to accommodate the working as well as the 
other classes of our people. Many of them now read in the 
Testament, and nearly all have made good progress ; about fifty 
in all have been thus taught. 

" They have their vices. Deception and petty thieving pre- 
vail. They are careless, indolent and improvident. They have 
a miserable habit of scolding and using authoritative language to 
one another. All these vices are clearly the result of skive edti- 
cation, and will gradually disappear under improved conditions. 
Miss Howell has established a sewing school among them, which 
was much needed. Heretofore when a garment began to give 
way it was thrown aside ; now they see the benefit of mending. 
But very little progress can be made until larger and better 
dwellings are furnished them. I hope government will allow the 
avails of the cotton crop to be appropriated in part to an im- 
provement in this respect. There is now not a sawmill on any 
of the islands, although there iff abundance of timber. A most 
economical expenditure at this time would be the erection of such 
a mill, and the employment of a' good Yankee to run it. The 
fall is now near at hand, and better houses ore an absolute neces- 
sity. The tenements on this place Mre rotting down and leak 
badly. How the people are to be made comfortable during the 
next winter, I do not know. Had they new and roomy cabins 
they would be ambitious to keep them clean. The groundwork 
of reform and progress must be improvement in the physical 
condition and surroundings. They excel the whites in emotional 
religion, but their intellects need oaltivation ; there must be edu- 
cation therefore to establish an equilibrium. I am satisfied that 
the law of kindness will work like a charm with them. As 
teachers and guides we need unwearying patience and steady 
perseverance — ^never losing sight of ihe fact that habitft inwron^t 
by time kito the texture of their being require time ta eradicate. 
In several kstanees I have been tried to the utmost by serioiHl 


quarrels among the people, which seemed to require prompt in- 
terference; but I always kept cool, and put oflF adjudication for 
twenty-four hours. In the mean time they have had time for 
reflection, and before the twenty-four hours would be expired the 
party most in the wrong would come and acknowledge the wrong, 
and promise amendment. If one is honest with them, and gets 
their confidence, the rest is easily accomplished." 

The suggestions in this last extract, in regard to things needed 
by the blacks, remind me of a memorandum that was furnished 
rtte before leaving the Islands, and which it was understood I 
should in some way or other make public. It was as follows : 

" The clothes most in request here are coats, shirts, and trou- 
sers for men ; jackets, shirts, and trousers for boys of eight to 
sixteen ; frocks and chemises for women and girls. Flannels are 
needed and should be provided in the proportion of not less than 
one to six ; that is, one-sixth of the undergarments should be 
flannel to meet the necessities 9f the weakly and infirm. Clothes 
for newly-born babies and for babies up to a year old much 
needed; also for school children of both sexes, from five to 
twelve, and for older boys and girls, from eight to sixteen. 

" In purchasing new things don't let the mistake be made of 
catering to what by some is considered ' the negro taste.* Their 
taste is the same as ours. The prettiest things — ^that is, the 
things that we would consider prettiest — are always first chosen. 
Yellow osnabergs are their detestation ; they are ugly in them- 
selves, and remind the people of their condition as slaves. 

" Made-up clothing is always acceptable, especially that for 
children, which should all be ready-made ; but it is not necessary 
that clothes for the adult should be made up. This they can do 
for themselves. Many of them prefer to buy the stuff" arid make 
it up their own way." 

Before closing this letter, sir, I deem it proper to say, that the 
enterprise in which your Committee is interested is under obli- 
gation for many acts of kindness and codperation performed by 
officers of the army and navy at Port Royal, especially by the 
two distinguished gentlemen who respectively command at that 
point. The deep interest manifested by Gen. Hunter in the suc- 
cess of this movement — ^his protecting care over the blacks, and 
his considerate kindness to the white instructors — ^have been mat- 
ters of grateful acknowledgment to .the friends of the cause, as 
well as of bitter misrepresentation to its foes. To no other mili- 
tary man in the field, perhaps, are the freed blacks of Port 
Royal, or their friends, or the honor of the country, so far as 


.^(^ they are concerned, so much indebted as to David Hunter, 

? Major-General commanding in the Department of the South. 

To Com. Dupont is due a similar acknowledgment. While at 
Beaufort, looking over a book containing accounts of the New 
York Association, I saw an entry to this effect : " 52 dresses, 20 
shirts, 200 yards calico, needles, etc., etc., got by Com. Dupont 
for the freed people on St. Simond's Island.'' This little circum- 
stance, of no importance in itself, indicates the practical interest 
taken by the head of our fleet at Port Royal in the welfare of 
the deserted and defenceless people whom he regards as in some 
sort thrown upon his care. In an interview I had with him on 
the Wabash, I said: "Commodore, the gentlemen on our Commit- 
tee will be greatly pleased to learn that you have had no disposi- 
tion to*thrbw obstacles in the way of their enterprise." '' Obsta- 
cles j my dear sir !" was the reply, "so far from it, it has been my 
greatest pleasure to co-operate with these philanthropic gentle- 

I am particular in these details of feeling and conduct mani- 
fested by the two gentlemen named, chiefly because their services 
to the freed people call for recognition, but partly also because 
their respective anteced/nts and history are such as to invest 
them with a peculiar interest in the eyes of Philadelphians. Gen. 
Hunter was born near this city, on the Jersey side of the Dela- 
ware. His father, who was Professor of Mathematics in Prince- 
ton College, was a native of Pennsylvania. The General himself 
is closely connected by family ties with prominent citizens living 
in and resident near this city. We have, therefore, a local as 
well as general interest in his fortunes and good name. The same 
may be said of Com. Dupont. In the interview already referred 
to, he alluded, and, I fancied, with some pride, to Philadelphia as 
his "nearest city," and spoke of its people as including many of 
his best and most honored friends. For these reasons, therefore, 
I hope to be pardoned for these somewhat personal allusions. 

Without farther protracting this letter, already too much ex- 
tended, I subscribe myself, dear sir. 

Yours, very respectfully, 

J. M. McKiM. 



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