|This site reprints pages 1-27 of American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of A Thousand Witnesses (1839). To go to the "Table of Contents" immediately, click here.
During the pre-Civil War slavery era, slavers themselves recorded their brutalities against slaves. This site reprints from the pre-Civil War slavery era, writings by slaveholders in the slave states, descriptions of how they treated slaves. Abuses, torture, and brutality abounded. Slavers printed these atrocity stories in their own Southern newspapers.
Escaped slaves would also report the atrocities, see, e.g., Solomon Northup, Twelve Years A Slave (1853), and movie versions, e.g., Solomon Northup's Odyssey (PBS, 1984), and 12 Years a Slave (2013) (on his being kidnapped in 1841 and not freed until 1853, and the atrocities documented in that 12 year period).
Rev. Theodore Weld, and sisters Angelina and Sarah Grimké (from South Carolina) were reading Southern newspapers of the 1837-1839 period, discovered the slavers' own news reports, and assembled these slaver-written materials. Thereafter, slavers began to conceal the abuses, as they had not expected that anyone would reprint and widely circulate their own words admitting to each other their brutalities
Preparatory to reading this site, familiarity with the data showing slavery to have been illegal and unconstitutional is advised.
A modern parallel occurred in Nazi Germany where people were brutalized regardless of the economic and other adverse impacts on the people and on society as a whole. Slavery was like that, the primacy of brutality, rape, and abuses, with 'work' being a secondary, or non-, consideration.
Slavery, 200-years of hunting safaris, intending to kill the hunted, that's the reality, debunking the myth of 'kind treatment as the slaves were valuable.' People pay large sums for hunting, intending that deaths result among the hunted!
Most slaves were killed; just as now, with deer-hunting, duck-hunting, etc., the killings are not considered wrongful. Only among abolitionists was there significant opposition.
Rev. Weld earlier (1837) had written The Bible Against Slavery.
AMERICAN SLAVERY AS IT IS:
A THOUSAND WITNESSES
written by Slaveholders (1837-1839)
Assembled by Rev. Theodore Dwight Weld
and Angelina and Sarah Grimké (1839)
" Behold the wicked abominations that they do '"—EZEKIEL, viii. 9.
"The righteous CONSIDERETH the cause of the poor
but the wicked regardeth not to know it."—PROV, 29.7.
"True humanity consists not In a SQUEAMISH EAR, but in listening to the story of human suffering
and endeavoring to relieve it."—CHARLES JAMES FOX.
PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICAN ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY,
OFFICE, No. 143 NASSAU STREET.
New York, May 4, 1839.
C O N T E N T S.
||Twenty-seven hundred thousand free born citizens of the U. S. in slavery||7
||Tender mercies of slaveholders||7
||Abominations of slavery||9
||Character of the testimony||9
||NARRATIVE OF NEHEMIAH CAULKINS||10
||North Carolina slavery||11
||Methodist preaching slavedriver, Galloway||12
||Women at child-birth||12
||Slaves at labor||12
||Clothing of slaves||13
||Allowance of provisions||13
||Cruelties to slaves||13
||Burying a slave alive||15
||Licentiousness of Slave-holders||15
||Rev. Thomas P. Hunt, "with his hands tied"||16
||Preachers cringe to slavery||16
||Nakedness of slaves||16
||Means of subsistence for slaves||16
||NARRRATIVE OF REV. HORACE MOWLTON||17
||Labor of the slaves||18
||Scenes of horror||20
||Constables, savage and brutal||20
||Cruelties at night||20
||Branding with hot iron||21
||Murder with impunity||21
||Iron collars, yokes, clogs, and bells||21
||NARRATIVE OF SARAH M. GRIMKÉ||22
||Barbarous Treatment of slaves||22
||Professor of religion, near death, tortured his slave for visiting his companion||23
||Counterpart of James Williams' description of Larrimore's wife||23
||Head of runaway slave on a pole||23
||Governor of North Carolina left his sick slave to perish||23
||Cruelty to Women slaves||24
||Christian slave a martyr for Jesus||24
||TESTIMONY OF REV. JOHN GRAHAM||25
||Twenty-seven slaves whipped||26
||TESTIMONY OF WILLIAM POE||26
||Harris whipped a girl to death||26
||Captain of the U. S. Navy murdered his boy, was tried and acquitted||26
||Overseer burnt a slave||26
||Cruelties to slaves||26
||Suffering from hunger||28
||Rations in the U. S. Army, &c||32
||Slaves are overworked||35
||Sacrifice of a set of hands every seven years||36
||Laws of Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina, and Virginia||39
||Nudity of slaves||42
||John Randolph's legacy to Essex and Hetty||43
||Slaves are wretchedly sheltered and lodged||43