Skip to main content

Full text of "What became of the slaves on a Georgia plantation? Great auction sale of slaves, at Savannah, Georgia, March 2d & 3d, 1859. A sequel to Mrs. Kemble's Journal"

See other formats









MARCH 2d & 3d, 1859. 




f ^ < : 


The largest sale of human chattels that has been made in Star- 
Spangled America for several years, took place on Wednesday and 
Thursday of last week, at the Race-course near the City of Savan- 
nah, Georgia. The lot consisted of four hundred and thirty-six 
men, women, children and infants, being that half of the negro 
stock remaining on the old Major Butler plantations which fell to 
one of the two heirs to that estate. Major Butler, dying, left a 
property valued at more than a million of dollars, the major part 
of which was invested in rice and cotton plantations, and the slaves 
thereon, all of which immense fortune descended to two heirs, his 
sons, Mr. John A. Butler, sometime deceased, and Mr. Pierce M. 
Butler, still living, and resident in the City of Philadelphia, in the 
free State of Pennsylvania. Losses in the great crash of 1S57-8, 
and other exigencies of business, have compelled the latter gentle- 
man to realize on his Southern investments, that he may satisfy his 
pressing creditors. This necessity led to a partition of the negro 
stock on the Georgia plantations, between himself and the repre- 
sentative of the other heir, the widow of the late John A. Butler, 
and the negroes that were brought to the hammer last week were 
the property of Mr. Pierce M. Butler, of Philadelphia, and were in 
fact sold to pay Mr. Pierce M. Butler's debts. The creditors were 
represented by Gen. Cadwalader, while Mr. Butler was present in 
person, attended by his business agent, to - attend to his own 

The sale had been advertised largely for many weeks, though the 
name of Mr. Butler was not mentioned; and as the negroes were 
known to be a choice lot and very desirable property, the attend- 
ance of buyers was large. The breaking up of an old family estate 
is so uncommon an occurrence that tlie affair was regarded with 
unusual interest throughout the South. For several days before 
the sale every hotel in Savannah was crowded with negro specula- 
tors from North and South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, 
and Louisiana, who had been attracted hither by the prospects of 
making good bargains. Nothing was heard for days, in the bar- 
rooms and public rooms, but talk of the great sale ; criticisms of the 
business afi'airs of Mr. Butler, and specuhitions as to the probable 
prices the stock would bring. The office of Joseph Bryan, the 
NegiC l^roker, who had the management of the sale, was thronged 
every day by eager inquirers in search of information, and by some 
who were anxious to buy, but were uncertain as to whether their 
securities would prove acceptable. Little parties were made up 
from the various hotels every day to visit the Race-course, distant 

some three miles from the city, to look over the chattels, discuss 
their points, and make memoranda for guidance on the day of sale. 
The buyers were generally of a rough breed, slangy, profane and 
bearish, being for the most part from the back river and swamp 
plantations, where the elegancies of polite life are not, perhaps, 
developed to their fullest extent. In fact, the humanities are sadly 
neglected by the petty tyrants of the rice-fields that border the 
great Dismal Swamp, their knowledge of the luxuries of our best 
society comprehending only revolvers and kindred delicacies. 

Your correspondent was present at an early date ; but as he 
easily anticipated the touching welcome that would, at such a 
time, be oflSciously extended to a representative of The Tribune, 
and being a modest man withal, and not desiring to be the recipient 
of a public demonstration from the enthusiastic Southern popula- 
tion, who at times overdo their hospitality and their guests, he did 
not placard his mission and claim his honors. Although he kept 
his business in the back-ground, he made himself a prominent figure 
in the picture, and, wherever there was anything going on, there 
was he in the midst. At the sale might have been seen a busy indi- 
vidual, armed with pencil and catalogue, doing his little utmost to 
keep up all the appearance of a knowing buyer, pricing "likely nig- 
ger fellers," talking confidentially to the smartest ebon maids, 
chucking the round-eyed youngsters under the chin, making an 
occasional bid for a large family, (a low bid — so low that somebody 
always instantly raised him twenty-five dollars, when the busy man 
would ignominiously retreat,) and otherwise conducting himself like 
a rich planter, with forty thousand dollars where he could put his 
finger on it. This gentleman was much condoled with by some 
sympathizing persons, when the particularly fine lot on which he 
had fixed his eye was sold and lost to him forever, because he hap- 
pened to be down stairs at lunch just at the interesting moment. 


The negroes came from two plantations, the one a rice plantation 
near Darien, in the State of Georgia, not far from the great Oke- 
fonokee Swamp, and the other a cotton plantation on the extreme 
northern point of St. Simon's Island, a little bit of an island in the 
Atlantic, cut off from Georgia mainland by a slender arm of the sea. 
Though the most of the stock had been accustomed only to rice and 
cotton planting, there were among them a number of very passable 
mechanics, who had been taught to do all the rougher sorts of 
mechanical work on the plantations. There were coopers, carpen- 
ters, shoemakers and blacksmiths, each one equal, in his various 
craft, to the ordinary requirements of a plantation ; thus, the . ; ■p'irs 
could make rice-tierces, and possibly, on a pinch, rude tuo. ^nd 
buckets; the carpenter could do the rough carpentry about the 
negro-quarters ; the shoemaker could make shoes of the fashion 
required for the slaves, and the backsmith was adequate to th-" 

manufacture of hoes and similar simple tools, and to such trifling 
repairs in the blacksmithing vray as did not require too refined a 
skill. Though probably no one of all these would be called a supe- 
rior, or even an average -workman, among the masters of the craft, 
their knowledge of these various trades sold in some cases for nearly 
as much as the man — that is, a man without a trade, who would be 
valued at .^900, would readily bring §1,600 or §1,700 if he was a 
passable blacksmith or cooper. 

There were no light mulattoes in the whole lot of the Butler 
stock, and but very few that were even a shade removed from the 
original Congo blackness. They have been little defiled by the admix- 
ture of degenerate Anglo-Saxon blood, and, for the most part, could 
boast that they were of as pure a breed as the best blood of Spain — 
a point in their favor in the eyes of the buyer as well as physiolo- 
gically, for too liberal an infusion of the blood of the dominant race 
brings a larger intelligence, a more vigorous brain, which, anon, 
grows restless under the yoke, and is prone to inquire into the defi- 
nition of the word Liberty, and the meaning of the starry flag which 
waves, as you may have heard, o'er the land of the free. The pure- 
blooded negroes are much more docile and manageable than mulat- 
toes, though less quick of comprehension, which makes them'preferred 
by drivers, v/ho can stimulate stupidity much easier than they can 
control intelligence by the lash. 

None of the Butler slaves have ever been sold before, but have 
been on these two plantations since they were born. Here have 
they lived their humble lives, and loved their simple loves; here were 
they born, and here have many of them had children born unto 
them; here had their parents lived before them, and are now rest- 
ing in quiet graves on the old plantations that these unhappy ones 
are to see no more forever ; here they left not only the well-known 
scenes dear to them from very baby-hood by a thousand fond memo- 
ries, and homes as much loved by them, perhaps, as brighter homes 
by men of brighter faces; but all the clinging ties that bound them 
to living hearts were torn asunder, for but one-half of each of 
these two happy little communities was sent to the shambles, to be 
scattered to the four winds, and the other half was left behind. 
And who can tell how closely intertwined are the affections of a little 
band of four hundred persons, living isolated from all the world 
beside, from birth to middle age ? Do they not naturally become 
one great family, each man a brother unto each ? 

It is true they were sold "in families;" but let us see : a man 
and his wife were called a "family," their parents and kindred 
were not taken into account ; the man and wife might be sold to 
the pine. woods of North Carolina, their brothers and sisters be scat- 
tered through the cotton fields of Alabama and the rice swamps of 
Louisiana, while the parents might be left on the old plantation to 
wear out their weary lives in heavy grief, and lay their heads in 
far-oft' graves, over which their children might never weep. And 


no account coukl be taken of loves that "were as yet unconsum- 
mated by marriage ; and how many aching hearts have been 
divorced by this summary proceeding no man can ever know. 
And the separation is as utter, and is infinitely more hopeless, than 
that made by the Angel of Death, for then the loved ones are com- 
mitted to the care of a merciful Deity ; but in the other instance, 
to the tender mercies of a slave-driver. These dark-skinned un- 
fortunates are perfectly unlettered, and could not communicate by 
•writing even if they should know where to send their missives. 
And so to each other, and to the old familiar places of their youth, 
clung all their sympathies and affections, not less strong, perhaps, 
because they are so few. The blades of grass on all the Butler 
estates are outnumbered by the tears that are poured out in agony 
at the wreck that has been wrought in happy homes, and the crush- 
ing grief that has been laid on loving hearts. 

But, then, what business have " niggers" with tears ? Besides, 
didn't Pierce Butler give them a silver dollar a-piece ? which will 
appear in the sequel. And, sad as it is, it was all necessary, be- 
cause a gentleman was not able to live on the beggarly pittance of 
half a million, and so must needs enter into speculations which 
turned out adversely. 


The negroes were brought to Savannah in small lots, as many at 
a time as could be conveniently taken care of, the last of them 
reaching the city the Friday before the sale. They were consigned 
to the care of Mr. J. Bryan, Auctioneer and Negro Broker, who 
was to feed and keep them in condition until disposed of. Imme- 
diately on their arrival they were taken to the Race-course, and 
there quartered in the sheds erected for the accommodation of the 
horses and carriages of gentlemen attending the races. Into these 
sheds they were huddled pell-mell, without any more attention to 
their comfort than was necessary to prevent their becoming ill and 
unsaleable. Each " family " had one or more boxes or bundles, in 
which were stowed such scanty articles of their clothing as were 
not brought into immediate requisition, and their tin dishes and 
gourds for their food and drink. 

It is, perhaps, a fit tribute to large-handed munificence to say 
that, when the negro man was sold, there was no extra charge for 
the negro man's clothes ; they went with the man, and were not 
charged in the bill. Nor is this altogether a contemptible idea, 
for many of them had worldly wealth, in the shape of clothing and 
other valuables, to the extent of perhaps four or five dollars ; and 
had all these been taken strictly into the account, the sum total of 
the sale would have been increased, possibly, a thousand aollars. 
In the North, we do not necessarily sell the harness with the horse; 
why, in the South, should the clothes go with the negro ? 

in these sheds were the chaitels huddled together on the floor, 

there being no sign of bench or table. They eat and slept on the 
bare boarcls, their food being rice and beans, with occasionally a 
bit of bacon and corn bread. Their huge bundles were scattered 
over the floor, and thereon the slaves sat or reclined, when not 
restlessly moving about, or gathered into sorrowful groups, discuss- 
ing the chances of their future fate'. On the faces of all was an 
expression of heavy grief; some appeared to be resigned to the 
hard stroke of Fortune that had torn them from their homes, and 
were sadly trying to make the best of it ; some sat brooding moodi- 
ly over their sorrows, their chins resting on their hands, their eyes 
staring vacantly, and their bodies rocking to and fro, with a rest- 
less motion that was never stilled ; few wept, the place was too 
public and the drivers too near, though some occasionally turned 
aside to give way to a few quiet tears. They were dressed in 
every possible variety of uncouth and fantastic garb, in every style 
and of every imaginable color ; the texture of the garments was in 
all cases coarse, most of the men being clothed in the rough cloth 
that is made expressly for the slaves. The dresses assumed by the 
negro minstrels, when they give imitations of plantation character, 
are by no means exaggerated ; they are, instead, weak and unable 
to come up to the original. There was every variety of hats, with 
every imaginable slouch ; and there was every cut and style of 
coat and pantaloons, made with every conceivable ingenuity of 
misfit, and tossed on with a general appearance of perfect looseness 
that is perfectly indescribable, except to say that a Southern negro 
always looks as if he could shake his clothes off without taking his 
hands out of his pockets. The women, true to the feminine instinct, 
had made, in almost every case, some attempt at finery. All wore 
gorgeous turbans, generally manufactured in an instant out of a 
gay-colored handkerchief by a sudden and graceful twist of the 
lingers ; though there was occasionally a more elaborate turban, a 
turban complex and mysterious, got up with care, and ornamented 
with a few beads or bright bits of ribbon. Their dresses were 
mostly coarse stuff, though there were some gaudy calicoes ; a few 
had ear-rings, and one possessed the treasure of a string of yellow 
and blue beads. The little children were always better and more 
carefully dressed than the older ones, the parental pride coming 
out in the shape of a yellow cap pointed like a mitre, or a jacket 
with a strip of red broadcloth round the bottom. The children 
were of all sizes, the youngest being fifteen days old. The babies 
were generally good-natured; though when one would set up a 
yell, the complaint soon attacked the others, and a full chorus 
would be the result. 

The slaves remained at the Race-course, some of them for more 
than a,vf"eek, and all of them for four days before the sale. They 
were brought in thus early that buyers who desired to inspect them 
might enjoy that privilege, although none of them were sold at pri- 
vate sale. For these preliminary days their shed was constantly 


visited by speculators. The negroes were examined with as little 
consideration as if tliej had been brutes indeed ; the buyers pull- 
ing their mouths open to see their teeth, pinching their limbs to 
find how muscular they were, walking them up and down to detect 
any signs of lameness, making them stoop and bend in different 
ways that they might be certain there was no concealed rupture or 
wound ; and in addition to all this treatment, asking them scores of 
questions relative to their qualifications and accomplishments. All 
these humiliations were submitted to without a murmur, and in 
some instances v/ith good-natured cheerfulness — where the slave 
liked the appearance of the proposed buyer, and fancied that he 
might prove a kind " Mas'r." 

The following curiously sad scene is the type of a score of others 
that were there enacted : 

" Elisha," chattel No. 5 in the catalogue, had taken a fancy to a 
benevolent-looking middle-aged gentleman, who was inspecting the 
stock, and thus used his powers of persuasion to induce the benevo- 
lent man to purchase him, with his wife, boy and girl, Molly, Israel 
and Sevanda, chattels Nos. 6, 7 and 8. The earnestness with 
which the poor fellow pressed his suit, knowing, as he did, that 
perhaps the happiness of his whole life depended on his success, 
was touching, and the arguments he used most pathetic. He made 
no appeal to the feelings of the buyer; he rested no hope on his 
charity and kindness, but only strove to show how well worth his 
dollars were the bone and blood he was entreating him to buy. 

'• Look at me, Mas'r ; am prime rice planter; sho' you won't find 
a better man den me ; no better on de whole plantation ; not a bit 
old yet ; do mo'* v/ork den ever ; do carpenter work, too, little ; 
better buy me, Mas'r ; I'se be good sarvant, Mas'r. Molly, too, my 
wife, Sa, fus'rate rice hand ; mos as good as me. Stan' out yer, 
Molly, and let the gen'lm'n see." 

Molly advances, with her hands crossed on her bosom, and makes 
a quick short curtsy, and stands mute, looking jrppcalingly in the 
benevolent man's face. But Elisha talks all tlie faster. 

" Show mas'r yer arm, Molly — good arm dat, Mas'r — she do a 
heap of work mo' with dat ai-m yet. Let good Mas'r see yer teeth, 
Molly — see dat Mas'r, teeth all reg'lar, all good — she'm young gal 
yet. Come out yer, Israel, walk aroun' an' let the gen'lm'n see 
how spry you be" — 

Then, pointing to the three-year-oM girl who stood with her chub- 
by hand to her mouth, holding on to her mother's dress, and un- 
certain what to make of the strange scene. 

"Little Vardy's only a chile yet; make prime gal by-and-by. 
Better buy us, Mas'r, v.e'm fus' rate bargain" — and so on. But 
the benevolent gentleman found where he could drive a closer bar- 
gain, and so bought somebody else. 

Similar scenes were transacting all the while on every side — 
parents praising the strength and cleverness of their children, and 


showing off every muscle and sinew to the very best advantage, not 
with the excusable pride of other parents, but to make them the 
more desirable iu the eyes of the man-buyer; and, on the other 
hand, chiklren excusing and mitigating the age and inability of 
parents, that they might be more marketable and fall, if possible, 
into kind hands. Not unfrequently these representations, if borne 
out by the facts, secured a purchaser. The women never spoke to 
the white men unless spoken to, and then made the conference as 
short as possible. And not one of them all, during the whole time 
they were thus exposed to the rude questions of vulgar men, spoke 
the first unwomanly or indelicate v.'ord, or conducted herself in any 
regard otherwise than as a modest woman should do ; their conver- 
sation and demeanor were quite as unexceptionable as they would 
have been had they been the highest ladies in the land, and through 
all the insults to which they were subjected they conducted them- 
selves with the most perfect decorum and self-respect. 

The sentiment of the subjoined characteristic dialogue was beard 
more than once repeated : 

" Well, Colonel, I seen you looking sharp at Shoemaker Bill's 
Sally. Going to buy her ? 

" Well, Major, I think not. Sally's a good, big, strapping gal, 
and can do a heap o'work ; but it's five years since she had any 
children. She's done breeding, I reckon.'" 

In the intervals of more active labor, the discussion of the re- 
opening of the slave trade was commenced, and the opinion seemed 
to generally prevail that its reestablishment is a consummation 
devoutly to be wished, and one red-faced Major or General or Cor- 
poral clenched his remarks with the emphatic assertion that "We'll 
have all the niggers in Africa over here in three years — we won't 
leave enough for seed." 


The Race-course at Savannah is situated about three miles from 
the city, in a pleasant spot, nearly surrounded by woods. As it 
rained violently during the two days of the sale, the place was only 
accessible by carriages, and the result was, that few attended but 
actual buyers, who had come from long distances, and could not 
afford to lose the opportunity. If the affair had come off in Yankee 
laud, there would have been a dozen omnibuses running constantly 
between the city and the Race-course, and some speculator would 
have bagged a nice little sum of money by the operation. But 
nothing of the kind was thought of here, and the only gainers were 
the livery stables, the owners of which had sufiici'ent Yankeeism to 
charge double and treble prices. 

The conveniences for getting to the ground were so limited that 
there were not enough buyers to warrant the opening of the sale 
for an hour or two after the advertised time. They dropped in, 
however, a few at a time, and things began to look more encourag- 
ingly for the seller. 


The nerrroes looked more nncorafortable than ever ; the close con- 
finement in-doorsfor a number of days, and the drizzly, unpleasant 
weather, began to tell on their condition. They moved about more 
listlessly, and were fast losing the activity and springiness they had 
at first shown. This morning they were all gathered into the long 
room of the building erected as the "Grand Stand" of the Race- 
course, that they might be immediately under the eye of the buyers. 
The room was about a hundred feet long by twenty wide, and herein 
were crowded the poor creatures, with much of their baggage, 
awaiting their respective calls to step upon the block and be sold 
to the highest bidder. This morning Mr. Pierce Butler appeared 
among his people, speaking to each one, and being recognized with 
seeming pleasure by all. The men obsequiously pulled ofi" their 
hats and made that indescribable sliding hitch with the foot which 
passes with a negro for a bow; and the women each dropped the 
quick curtsy, which they seldom vouchsafe to any other than their 
legitimate master and mistress. Occasionally, to a very old or 
favorite servant, Mr. Butler would extend his gloved hand, which 
mark of condescension was instantly hailed with grins of delight 
from all the sable witnesses. 

The room in which the sale actually took place immediately ad- 
joined the room of the negroes, and communicated with it by two 
large doors. The sale room was open to the air on one side, com- 
manding a view of the entire Course. A small platform was raised 
about two feet and a-half high, on which were placed the desks of 
the entry clerks, leaving room in front of them for the auctioneer 
and the goods. 

At about 11 o'clock the business men took their places, and an- 
nounced that the sale would begin. Mr. Bryan, the Negro Broker, 
is a dapper little man, wearing spectacles and a yachting^ hat, sharp 
and sudden in his movements, and perhaps the least bit in the world 
obtrusively officious — as earnest in his language as he could be with- 
out actual swearing, though acting much as if he would like to 
swear a little at the critical moment ; Mr. Bryan did not sell the 
goods, he merely superintended the operation, and saw that the 
entry clerks did their duty properly. The auctioneer proper was a 
Mr. Walsh, who deserves a word of description. In personal ap- 
pearance he is the very opposite of Mr. Bryan, being careless in 
his dress instead of scrupulous, a large man instead of a little one, 
a fat man instead of a lean one, and a good-natured man instead of 
a fierce one. He is a rollicking old boy, with an eye ever on the 
look-out, and that never lets a bidding nod escape him ; a hearty 
word for every bidder who cares for it, and plenty of jokes to let off 
when the business gets a little slack. Mr. Walsh has a florid com- 
plexion, not more so, perhaps, than is becoming, and possibly not 
more so than is natural in a whiskey country. Not only is his face 
red, but his skin has been taken off in spots by blisters of some sort, 
giving him a peely look; so that, taking his face all in all, the peeli- 


ness and the redness combined, lie looks much as if he had been 
boiled in the same pot with a red cabbage. 

Mr. Walsh mounted the stand and announced the terms of the 
sale, "one-third cash, the remainder payable in two equal annual 
instalments, bearing interest from the day of sale, to be secured by 
approved mortgage and personal security, or approved acceptances 
in Savannah, Ga,, or Charleston, S. C. Purchasers to pay for 
papers." The buyers, who were present to the number of about 
two hundred, clustered around the platform ; while the negroes, who 
were not likely to be immediately wanted, gathared into sad groups 
in the back-ground, to watch the progress of the selling in which 
they were so sorrowfully interested. The wind howled outside, and 
through the open side of the building the driving rain came pouring 
in ; the bar down stairs ceased for a short time its brisk trade ; the 
buyers lit fresh cigars, got ready their catalogues and pencils, and 
the first lot of human chattels was led upon the stand, not by a 
white man, but by a sleek mulatto, himself a slave, and who seems 
to regard the selling of his brethren, in which he so glibly assists, 
as a capital joke. It had been announced that the negroes would 
be sold in "families," that is to say, a man would not be parted 
from his wife, or a mother from a very young child. There is per- 
haps as much policy as humanity in this arrangement, for thereby 
many aged and unserviceable people are disposed of, who otherwise 
would not find a ready sale. 

The first family brought out were announced on the catalogue as 


1. George, - - - - 1:7 - - - Prime Cotton Planter. 

2. Sue, 2G - - - Prime Rice Planter. 

3. George, --.-6--- Boy Child. 

4. Harry, - - - - 2 - - - Boy Child. 

The manner of buying was announced to be bidding a certain 
price a-piece for the Avhole lot. Thus, George and his family were 
started at $300, and were finally sold at §600 each, being |i2,400 
for the four. To get an idea of the relative value of each one, we 
must suppose George worth 1 1,200, Sue worth 8^'00, Little George 
worth ^200, and Harry worth $100, Owing, however, to some mis- 
apprehension on the part of the buyer, as to the manner of bidding, 
he did not take the family at this figure, and they were put up and 
sold again, on the second day, when they brought §620 each, or 
§2,480 for the whole — an advance of §80 over the first sale. 

Robert, and Luna his Avife, who were announced as having 
"goitre, otherwise very prime," brought the round sum of §1,005 
each. But that your readers may have an idea of the exact man- 
ner in which things are done, I append a couple of pages of the 
catalogue used on this occasion, which you can print verbatim : 

99 — Kate's John, aged 30; rice, prime man. 
100 — Betsey, 2'J ; rice, unsound. 
101— Kate, 6. 
102— Violet, 3 months. 

Sold for $510 each. 


103— Wooster, 45 ; rice hand, and fair mason. 
104— Mary, 40 ; cotton hand. 

Sold for $300 each. 
105 — Commodore Bob, aged; rice hand. 
lOG — Kate, aged ; cotton. 

107 — Linda, 19: cotton, prime young woman. 
lOS — Joe, 13 ; rice, prime bov. 

Sold for $600 each. ' 
109— Bob, 30 ; rice. 
110 — Mary, 25 ; rice, prime woman. 

Sold for $1,135 each. 
Ill — Anson, 49; rice — ruptured, one eye. 
112 — Violet, 55 ; rice hand. 

Sold for $250 each. 
113 — Allen Jeffrey, 46 ; rice hand and sawyer in steam mill. 
114 — Sikey, 43 ; rice hand. 
115 — Watty, 5 ; infirm legs. 

Sold for S520 each. 
116 — Eina, 18; rice, prime young woman. 
117 — Lena, 1. 

Sold for $645 each, 
lis — Pompey, 31 ; rice — lame in one foot. 
119 — Kitty, 30; rice, prime woman. 
120— Pompev, Jr., 10; prime bov. 
121— John, 7. 
122— Noble, 1 ; bov. 

Sold for S580 each. 
341 — Goin, 39 ; rice hand. 
342 — Cassander, 35 ; cotton hand — has fits. 
343 — Emiline, 19; cotton, -prime young woman. 
344 — Judy, 11 ; cotton, prime girl. 

Sold for $400 each. 
345 — Dorcas, 17; cotton, prime woman. 
346 — Joe, 3 months. 

Sold for Si. 200 each. 
347— Tom, 22 : cotton hand. Sold for $1,260. 
348— Judge Will, 55 ; rice hand. Sold for $325. 
349 — Lowden, 54; cotton hand. 
350 — Hagar, 50 ; cotton hand. 
351 — Lowden, 15 ; cotton, prime boy. 
352 — Silas, 13; cotton, prime boy. 
353 — Lettia, 11; cotton, jjrirae girl. 

Sold for $300 each. 
354 — Fielding, 21; cotton, prime young man. 
355 — Abel, 19 ; cotton, prime vouug man. 

Sold for $1,295 each.*' 
356 — Smith's Bill, aged ; sore leg. 
357 — Leah, 46; cotton hand. 
358— Sally, 9. 

359 — Adam, 24; rice, prime man. 
360 — Ciiarlotte, 22; rice, prime woman. 
361— Lesh, 1. 

Sold for $750 each. 
362 — Maria, 47 ; rice hand. 
303 — Luna, 22; rice, prime woman. 
364 — Clementina, 17 ; rice, prime young woman. 

Sold for $950 each. 
365 — Tom, 48 ; rice hand. 
366 — Harriet, 41 ; rice hand 
367 — Wanney, 19; rice hand, prime young man. 


308— Deborah, G. 

369 — Infant. 3 months. 

Sold for $700 each. 

It seems as if every shade of character capable of being impli- 
cated in the sale of human flesh and blood was represented among 
the buyers. There was the Georgia fast young man, with his panta- 
loons tucked into his boots, his velvet cap jauntily dragged over to 
one side, his cheek full of tobacco, which he bites from a huge plug, 
that resembles more than anything else an old bit of a rusty wagon 
tire, and who is altogether an animal of quite a different breed from 
your New York fast man. His ready revolver, or his convenient 
knife, is ready for instant use in case of a heated argument. White- 
iieck-clothed, gold-spectacled, and silver-haired old men were there, 
resembling in appearance that noxious breed of sanctimonious dea- 
cons we have at the North, who are perpetually leaving documents 
at your door that you never read, and the business of whose mendi- 
cant life it is to eternally solicit subscriptions for charitable associa- 
tions, of which they are treasurers. These gentry, with quiet step 
and subdued voice, moved carefully about among the live stock, 
ignoring, as a general rule, the men, but tormenting the women 
with questions which, when accidentally overheard by the disinte- 
rested spectator, bred in that spectator's mind an almost irresistible 
desire to knock somebody down. And then, all imaginable varie- 
ties of rough, backwoods rowdies, who began the day in a spirited 
manner, but who, as its hours progressed, and their practice at the 
bar became m^ore prolific in results, waxed louder and taikier and 
more violent, were present, and added a characteristic feature to 
the assemblage. Those of your readers who have read " Uncle 
Tom," — and who has not? — will remember, with peculiar feelings, 
^ Legree, the slave-driver and woman-whipperi That that character 
viis not been overdrawn, or too highly colored, there is abundant 
testimony. Witness the subjoined dialogue : A party of men were 
conversing on the fruitful subject of managing refractory "niggers;" 
some were for severe whipping, some recommending branding, one 
or two advocated other modes of torture, but one huge brute of a 
man, who had not taken an active part in the discussion, save to 
assent, with approving nod, to any unusually barbarous proposition, 
at last broke his silence by saying, in an oracular way, "You may 
say what j^ou like about managing niggers ; I'm a driver myself, 
and I've had some experience, and I ought to know. You can man- 
age ordinary niggers by lickiu' 'em, and givin' 'em a taste of the 
hot iron once in awhile when they're extra ugly ; but if a nigger 
really sets himself up against me, I can't never have any patience 
with him. I just get my pistol and shoot him right down ; and 
that's the best way." 

And this brute was talking to gentlemen, and his remarks were 
listened to with attention, and his assertions assented to by more 
than one in the knot of listeners. But all this time the sale was 
going on, and the merry Mr. Walsh, with many a quip and jest, was 


beguiling the time when the bidding was slow. The expression on 
tlie faces of all who stepped on the block was always the same, and 
told of more anguish than it is in the power of words to express. 
Blighted homes, crushed hopes and broken hearts, was the sad story 
to be read in all the anxious faces. Some of them regarded the 
pale with perfect indifference, never making a motion, save to turn 
from one side to the other at the word of the dapper Mr. Bryan, 
that all the crowd might have a fair view of their proportions, and 
then, when the sale was accomplished, stepped down from the block 
Avithout caring to cast even a look at the buyer, who now held all 
their happiness in his hands. Others, again, strained their eyes 
with eager glances from one buyer to another as the bidding went 
on, trying with earnest attention to follow the rapid voice of the 
auctioneer. Sometimes, two persons only would be bidding for the 
same chattel, all the others having resigned the contest, and then 
the poor creature on the block, conceiving an instantaneous prefer- 
ence for one of the buyers over the other, would regard the rivalry 
with the intensest interest, the expression of his face changing with 
every bid, settling into a half smile of joy if the favorite buyer per- 
severed unto the end and secured the property, and settling down 
into a look of hopeless despair if the other won the victory. 

daphney's baby. 

The family of Primus, plantation carpenter, consisting of Daph- 
ney his wife, with her young babe, and Dido, a girl of three years 
old, were reached in clue course of time. Daplmey had a large 
shawl, which she kept carefully wrapped round her infant and her- 
self. This unusual proceeding attracted much attention, and pro- 
voked many remarks, such as these : 

" What do you keep ^'our nigger covered up for ? Pull off her 
blanket. " 

" What's the matter with the gal ? Has she got the head- 
ache ? " 

" What's the fault of the gal ? Ain't she sound ? Pull off her 
rags and let us see her. 

" Who's going to bid on that nigger, if you keep her covered 
up. Let's see her face. " 

And a loud chorus of similar remarks, emphasized with profanity, 
and mingled with sayings too indecent and obscene to be even 
hinted at here, went up from the crowd of chivalrous Southern 

At last the auctioneer obtained a hearing long enough to explain 
that there was no attempt to practise any deception in the case — 
the parties were not to be wronged in any way ; he had no desire 
to palm off on them an inferior article ; but the truth of the matter 
was that Daphney had been confined only fifteen days ago, and he 
thouQ-ht that on that account she was entitled to the slight indul- 
gence of a blanket, to keep from herself and child the chill air and 
the drivino; rain. 

Will your lady readers look at the circumstances of this case ? 


The day was tlie 2il Jay of March. Daphney's baby was born into 
the -worhl on St. Valentine's happy day, the 14th of February. 

Since her confinement, Daphney had traveled from the planta- 
tion to Savannah, where she had been kept in a shed for six days. 
On the sixth or seventh day after her sickness, she had left her 
bed, taken a railroad journey across the country to the shambles, 
was there exposed for six days to the questionings and insults of 
the negro speculators, and then on the fifteenth day aftei' her 
confinement was put up on the block, with her husband and her 
other child, and, with her new-born baby in her arms, sold to the 
highest bidder. 

It was very considerate of Daphney to be sick before the sale, 
for her wailing babe was worth to Mr. Butler all of a hundred 
dollars. The family sold for ^625 a-piece, or $2,500 for the four. 


This was a couple not quite a year married, and were down in 
the catalogue as " prime. " They had no children yet ; Mary, 
with a reprehensible lack of that tender interest in Mr. Butler's 
affairs that had been exibited in so eminent a degree by Daphney, 
had disappointed that worthy man's expectations, and the baby as 
yet was not. But Bob and Mary sold for $1,135 a-piece, for all 

In another instance, Margaret, the wife of Doctor George, who 
was confined on February IG, though the name of herself and 
family were inserted in the catalogue, did not come to the sale, 
and consequently, they were not disposed of at all. As Margaret's 
baby was fully four days old at the time she was required to start 
on her journey to Savannah, we can only look at her refusal to go 
as a most culpable instance of perversity. Margaret should be 
whipped, and branded, and otherAvise kindly admonished of her 
great sin in thus disappointing the reasonable expectations of so 
kind a master. But Mr. Butler bore with her in a truly Christian 
spirit, and uttered no reproach — in public at least. It was the 
more unkind of Margaret, too, because there were six in the family 
who would have brought probably $4,000, and all were detained 
from the sale by the contumacy of misguided Margaret. 

While on the subject of babies, it may be mentioned that Amity, 
chattel No. 316, wife of Prince, chattel No. S15, had testified her 
earnest desire to contribute all in her power to the worldly wealth 
of her master by bringing into the world at one time chatties Nos. 
317 and 318, being a fine pair of twin boys, just a year old. It is 
not in evidence that Amity received from her master pny testi- 
monial of his appreciating her good behavior on this occasion, but 
it is certain that she brought a great price, the four, Prince, Amity 
and the twins selling for $670 a-piece, being a total of $2,6b0. 

Many other babies, of all ages of baby-hood, were sold, but there 
•was nothing particularly interesting about them. There wore some 
thirty babies in the lot ; they are esteemed worth to the master a 


hundred dollars the day they are born, and to increase in value at 
the rate of a hundred dollars a year till they are sixteen or seven- 
teen years old, at "which age they bring the best prices. 


Jeffrey, chattel No. 319, marked as a "prime cotton hand," 
aged 23 years, was put up. Jeffrey being a likely lad, the compe- 
tition was high. The first bid v.-as §1,100, and he was finally sold 
for $1,310. Jeffrey was sold alone ; he had no incumbrance in the 
shape of an aged father or mother, who must necessi^rily be sold 
with him; nor had he any children, for Jeffrey wns not married. 
But Jeffrey, chattel No. 319, being human in his affections, had 
dared to cherish a love for Dorcas, chattel No. 278 ; and Dorcas, 
not having the fear of her master before her eyes, had given her 
heart to Jeffrey. Whether what followed was a just retribution on 
Jeffrey and Dorcas, for daring to take such liberties with their 
master's property as to exchange hearts, or whether it only goes to 
prove that with black as with white the saying holds, that " the 
course of true love never did run smooth," cannot now be told. 
Certain it is that these two lovers were not to realize the consum- 
mation of their hopes in happy wedlock. Jeffrey and Dorcas had 
told their loves, had exchanged their simple vows, and were be- 
trothed, each to the other as dear, and each by the other as fondly 
beloved as though their skins had been of fairer color. And who 
shall say that, in the sight of Heaven and all holy angels, these 
two humble hearts were not as closely wedded as any two of the 
prouder race that call them slaves ? 

Be that as it may, Jeffrey was sold. He finds out his new mas- 
ter ; and, hat in hand, the big tears standing in his eyes, and his 
voice trembling with emotion, he stands before that master and 
tells his simple story, praying that his betrothed may be bought 
with him. ThouL'h his voice trembles, there is no embarrassment 
in his manner; his fears have killed all the bashfulness that would 
naturally attend such a recital to a stranger, and before unsympa- 
thizing witnesses ; he feels that he is pleading for the happiness of 
her he loves, as well as for his own, and his tale is told in a frank 
and manly way. 

"I loves Dorcas, young Mas'r; I loves her well an' true; she 
says she loves me, and I know she does ; de good Lord knows I 
loves her better than I loves any one in de wide world — never can 
love another woman half so well. Please buy Dorcas, Mas'r. 
"We're be good sarvants to you long as we live. We're be married 
right soon, young Mas'r, and de chillun will be healthy and strong, 
Mas'r, and dey'U be good sarvants, too. Please buy Dorcas, young 
Mas'r. We loves each other a heap — do, really true, Mas'r." 

Jeffrey then remembers that no loves and hopes of his are to en- 
ter into the bargain at all, but in the earnestness of his love he has 
forgotten to base his plea on other ground till now, when he bethinks 
him and continues, with his voice not trembling now, save with 

eagerness to prove how worthy of many dollars is the maiden of his 
heart : 

''Young Mas'r, Dorcas prime woman — Al woman, pa. Tall 
gal, sir ; long arms, strong, healthy, and can do a heap of work in 
a day. She is one of de best rice hands on de whole plantation ; 
worth §1,200 easy, Mas'r, an' fus'rate bargain at that." 

The man seems touched by Jeffrey's last remarks, and bids him 
fetch out his "gal, and let's see what she looks like." 

Jeffrey goes into the long room, and presently returns Avith Dor- 
cas, looking very sad and self-possessed, without a particle of em- 
barrassment at the trying position in which she is placed. She makes 
the accustomed curtsy, and stands meekly with her hands clasped 
across her bosom, waiting the result. The buyer regards her with 
a critical eye, and growls in a low voice that the "gal has good 
p'ints." Then he goes on to a more minute and careful examina- 
tion of her working abilities. He turns her around, makes her 
stoop, and walk ; and then he takes off her turban to look at her 
head that no wound or disease be concealed by the gay handker- 
chief ; he looks at her teeth, and feels of her arms, and at last an- 
nounces himself pleased with the result of his observations, whereat 
Jeffrey, who has stood near, trembling with eager hope, is over- 
joyed, and he smiles for the first time. The buyer then crowns 
Jeffrey's happiness by making a promise that he will buy her, if 
the price isn't run up too high. And the two lovers step aside and 
cono-ratulate each other on their good fortune. But Dorcas is not 
to be sold till the next day, and there are twenty-four long hours of 
feverish expectation. 

Early next morning is Jeffrey alert, and, hat in hand, encouraged 
to unusual freedom by the greatness of the stake for which he plays, 
he addresses every buyer, and of all who will listen he begs the boon 
of a word to be spoken to his new master to encourage him to buy 
Dorcas. And all the long morning he speaks in his homely way with 
all who know him, that they will intercede to save his sweetheart 
from being sold away from him forever. No one has the heart to 
deny a word of promise and encouragement to the poor fellow, and, 
joyous with so much kindness, his hopes and spirits gradually rise 
until he feels almost certain that the wish of heart will be accom- 
plished. And Dorcas, too, is smiling, for is not Jeffrey's happiness 
her owu ?" 

At last comes the trying moment, and Dorcas steps up on the 

But now a most unexpected feature in the drama is for the first 
time unmasked : Doreas is not to he sold alone, but with a family of 
four others. Full of dismay, Jeffrey looks to his master, who 
shakes his head, for, although he might be induced to buy Dorcas 
alone, he has no use for the rest of the family. Jeffrey reads his 
doom in his master's look, and turns away, the tears streaming 
down his honest face. 

So Dorcas is sold, and her toiling life is to be spent in the cotton 


fields of South Carolina, wliile Jeffrey goes to the rice plantation of 
the Great Swamp. 

And to-morrow, Jeffrey and Dorcas are to say their tearful fare- 
well, and go their separate ways in life, to meet no more as mortal 

But didn't Mr. Pierce Butler give them a silver dollar a-piece ? 
Who shall say there is no magnanimity in slave-owners ? 

In another hour I see Dorcas in the long room, sitting motionless 
as a statute, with her head covered with a shawl. And I see Jeffrey, 
who goes to his new master, pulls off his hat and says : " I'se very 
much obliged, Mas'r, to you for tryin' to help me. I knows you 
would have done it if you could — thank you, Mas'r — thank you — 
but — its — berry — hard " — and hear the poor fellow breaks down 
entirely and walks away, covering his face with his battered hat, 
and sobbing like a very child. 

He is soon surrounded by a group of his colored friends, who, 
with an instinctive delicacy most unlocked for, stand quiet, and 
with uncovered heads, about him. 

Anson and Violet, chattels Nos. Ill and 112, were sold for ^250 
each, both being old, and Anson being down in the catalogue as 
" ruptured and as having one eye." Violet was sold as being sick. 
Her disease was probably consumption, which supposition gave rise 
to the following feeling conversation between two buyers : 

" Cheap gal, that, Major!" 

"Don't think so. They may talk about her being sick ; it's no 
easy sickness see's got. She's got consumption, and the man that 
buys her '11 have to be a doctrin' her all the time, and she'll die in 
less than three months. I won't have anything to do with her — 
don't want any half dead niggers about me." 


Guy, chattel No. 419, "a prime young man," sold for $1,280, 
being without blemish ; his age was twenty years, and he was alto- 
gether a fine article. His next-door neighbor, Andrew, chattel No. 
420, was his very counterpart in all marketable points, in size, age, 
skill, and everything save that he had lost his right eye. Andrew 
sold for only ^1,040, from which we argue that the market value of 
the right eye in the Southern country is $240. 


When the family of Mingo, consisting of his wife, two sons and a 
daughter, was called for, it was announced by the auctioneer that 
chattel No. 322, Dembo, the eldest son, aged 20, had the evening 
before procured the services of a minister, and been joined in wed- 
lock to chattel No. 404, Frances, and that he should be compelled 
to put up the bride and groom in one lot. They were called up, 
and, as was to be expected, their appearance was the signal for a 
volley of coarse jokes from the auctioneer, and of ribald remarks 
from the surrounding crowd. The newly-married pair bore it 


bravely, although one refined gentleman took hold of Frances's 
lips and pulled them apart, to see her age. 

This sort of thing it is that makes Northern blood boil, and 
Northern fists clench with a laudable desire to hit somebody. It 
"was almost too much for endurance to stand and see those brutal 
slave-drivers pushing the women about, pulling their lips apart with 
their not too cleanly hands, and committing many another indecent 
act, while the husbands, fathers and brothers of those women were 
compelled to witness these things, without the power to resent 
the outrage. 

Dembo and Frances were at last struck off for $1,320 each, and 
■went to spend their honey-moon on a cotton plantation in Alabama. 


The auctioneer brought up Joshua's Molly and family. He 
announced that Molly insisted that she was lame in her left foot, 
and perversely would walk lame, although for his part, he did not 
believe a word of it. He had caused her to be examined by an 
eminent physician in Savannah, which medical light had declared 
that Joshua's Molly was not lame, but was only shamming. How- 
ever, the gentlemen must judge for themselves and bid accordingly. 
So Molly was put through her paces, and compelled to trot up and 
down along the stage, to go up and down the steps, and to exercise 
her feet in various ways, but always with the same result, the left 
foot would be lame. She was finally sold for $695. 

Whether she really was lame or not no one knows but herself, 
but it must be remembered that to a slave a lameness, or anything 
that decreases his market value, is a thing to be rejoiced over. A 
man in the prime of life, worth $1,600 or thereabouts, can have 
little hope of ever being able, by any little savings of his own, to 
purchase his liberty. But let him have a rupture, or lose a limb, 
or sustain any other injury that renders him of much less service 
to his owner, and reduces his value to $300 or $400, and he may 
hope to accumulate that sum, and eventually to purchase his 
liberty. Freedom without health is infinitely sweeter than health 
without freedom. 

And so the Great Sale went on for two long days, during which 
time there were sold 429 men, women and children. There were 
436 announced to be sold, but a few were detained on the plan- 
tations by sickness. 

At the close of the sale, on the last day, several baskets of cham- 
pagne were produced, and all w'ere invited to partake, the wine 
being at the expense of the broker, Mr. Bryan. 

The total amount of the sale foots up $303,850 — the proceeds 
of the first day being $161,480, and of the second day $142,370. 

The highest sum paid for any one family was given for Sally 
Walker and her five children, who were mostly grown up. The 
price was $6,180. 


The highest price paid for a single man was $1,750, which was 
given for William, a "fair carpenter and caulker," 

The highest price paid for a woman was ^1,250, which was given 
for Jane, "cotton hand and house servant." 

The lowest price paid was for Anson and Violet, a gray-haired 
couple, each having numbered more than fiftj years ; they brought 
but $250 a-piece. 


Leaving the Race buildings, where the scenes we have described 
took place, a crowd of negroes were seen gathered eagerly about a 
white man. That man was Pierce M. Butler, of the free City of 
Philadelphia, who was solacing the wounded hearts of the people he 
had sold from their firesides and their homes, by doling out to them 
small change at the rate of a dollar a-head. To every negro he had 
sold, who presented his claim for the paltry pittance, he gave the 
munificent stipend of one whole dollar, in specie ; he being provided 
with two canvas bags of 25 cent pieces, fresh from the mint, to give 
an additional glitter to his generosity. 

And now come the scenes of the last partings — of the final sepa- 
rations of those who were akin, or who had been such dear friends 
from youth that no ties of kindred could bind them closer — of those 
who were all in all to each other, and for whose bleeding hearts 
there shall be no earthly comfort — the parting of parents and chil- 
dren, of brother from brother, and the rending of sister from a sis- 
ter's bosom ; and ! hardest, cruellest of all, the tearing asunder 
of loving hearts, wedded in all save the one ceremony of the Church 
— these scenes pass all description ; it is not meet for pen to meddle 
with tears so holy. 

As the last family stepped down from the block, the rain ceased, 
for the first time in four days, the clouds broke away, and the soft 
sunlight fell on the scene. The unhappy slaves had many of them 
been already removed, and others were now departing with their 
new masters. 

That night, not a steamer left that Southern port, not a train of 
cars sped away from that cruel city, that did not bear each its own 
sad burden of those unhappy ones, whose only crime is that they are 
not strong and wise. Some of them maimed and wounded, some 
scarred and gashed, by accident, or by the hand of ruthless drivers 
— all sad and sorrowful as human hearts can be. 

But the stars shone out as brightly as if such things had never 
been, the blushing fruit-trees poured their fragrance on the evening 
air, and the scene was as calmly sweet and quiet as if Man had 
never marred the glorious beauties of Earth by deeds of cruelty 
and wrong.