Treatment of the Davis Slaves

unionblue

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There's quite a mocking tone to that article. It's no surprise that Davis's slaves wanted freedom over slavery. Again, no one here has claimed otherwise. It's also not surprising that the Northern press were happy to publish and play up the propaganda of the Confederate President's slaves entering their lines.

I note you make no comment on the quotes by Davis in the article, that black slaves were created to serve the superior race and that they had to be guided and protected from themselves, etc.

It seems there was "no surprise that Davis's slaves wanted freedom over slavery?" In spite of the fact Davis treated them so well when they were owned by him?

You're right of course. There is no substitute for freedom, no matter how gently slavery is applied to people.
 

Rhea Cole

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Very few people, in those days, saw blacks as equals, even those in the north.
Even those who sought the abolishment of slavery didn't view blacks as equal to whites - only that they shouldn't be owned.
This was also true of the Native Americans and the Irish, just to name some others that come to mind.
The whole folly of race was invented to justify stealing other people’s property because you were doing them a favor. I can’t count the number of “they will die & go to heaven” as an excuse for kidnapping Africans. Doing what God wants you to do is a vicious business.
 

lelliott19

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The position is that to own slaves, one must either believe in or support the idea of slavery and that slaves had no right to believe in anything else from their masters.
Not necessarily. A lot of people in the South inherited enslaved people from their parents or grandparents and it was illegal to free them in the states in which they lived. For example, in order to gain approval to free an enslaved person in North Carolina, one had to: 1) Prove the enslaved person had rendered 'meritorious service.' 2.) File a petition to the General Assembly to gain approval for the enslaved person to be freed. 3.) Provide funding for the newly freed enslaved person to be sent to a free state.

Occasionally, the children of an enslaved person who was freed would also be freed by an act of the Assembly. The owner could request that the newly freed person be allowed to remain in the State, but there was no guarantee that would be approved.

Here are a few examples from North Carolina
1841 - William H. Haywood and Edward E. Graham, executors of the estate of the late Mary McKinlay, represent that the said McKinlay "by her said will bequeathed & devised that all her slaves (10 or 11 in number) shall be emancipated & the will expressly enjoins it upon your petitioners to ask leave of the General Assembly to emancipate said slaves and let them remain as free people of color in this State." They further state the said will directs them "to send the said slaves out of the State and have them emancipated but not to do this until an effort has been made to procure license from the General Assembly." The petitioner therefore pray "that your honorable body will pass an act allowing them to emancipate the Slaves of Mary McKinlay decd with liberty to said slaves to remain in this State."
--- The petition was rejected by the General Assembly.

1850 - Forty residents of Northampton County ask that James Langford, an "industrious and frugal" slave carpenter, be emancipated. Citing that Langford has a "wife and children [that] are slaves," they report that "he is desirous of remaining in North Carolina with them." The petitioners therefore pray "your Honorable body to pass an act emancipating him." They believe that "by granting this petition your will be an act of kindness for a deserving man, receive the thanks of your petitioners and do no wrong to the public interest."
--- The petition was "laid on the table" or tabled by the General Assembly.

1858 - Thirty-eight residents of Davie County join F. M. Phillips in requesting that his slave Ephraim be emancipated. The petitioners state that the said Ephraim is known "to be of a good character for honesty, industry and fidelity." They further point out that the slave "has a wife and children and if emancipated by our Courts under the general provisions of the Law, that he would be forced to seperate from his family to whom he is much attached and leave the state." The petitioners therefore pray "your Honorable Body to Emancipate Ephraim & authorize him to reside within the limits of North Carolina."
--- The Committee on Slaves and Free Persons of Color, 26 January 1859 reported unfavorably. <I do not know, but assume the petition was rejected.>

Compiled by The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the Race & Slavery Petition project offers a searchable database of petitions to southern legislatures and country courts filed between 1775 and 1867 in the slaveholding states in the United States (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.)
If you would like read some of the petitions yourself, here is the link. http://library.uncg.edu/slavery/petitions/index.aspx?s=1
 

Rhea Cole

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Let me clear something up. Slavery was legal until the 13th Amendment was ratified, if memory serves, by Arkansas’ legislature. The Emancipation proclamation was a wartime act that had a problematic post war future. I think this is the 6th thread about the false premise that slaves loved their masters I have replied to, so won’t cite sources.

The documentary record is replete with testimonials about how the slaves loved their masters, etc. Southern men were encouraged to enlist because loyal slaves would take up arms to repel the inferior Yankees.

Jefferson Davis, early on, gave a speech where he extolled the loyalty of contented slaves. At that same time, he wrote a letter stating his anxiety at the huge number of men it was going to take to keep slaves from running off in droves. As with all things re: Southern slave-holding, there was the public lie & there was the just us white-folks truth.

The heartfelt shock & personal distress felt by slave-holders experienced when their most privileged slaves were the first to run off is heartfelt. They were genuinely hurt to discover that their slaves were not their friends. That is one reason it was so important for the Lost Cause counter factual writers to dote on that lie.
 
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Rhea Cole

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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Not necessarily. A lot of people in the South inherited enslaved people from their parents or grandparents and it was illegal to free them in the states in which they lived. For example, in order to gain approval to free an enslaved person in North Carolina, one had to: 1) Prove the enslaved person had rendered 'meritorious service.' 2.) File a petition to the General Assembly to gain approval for the enslaved person to be freed. 3.) Provide funding for the newly freed enslaved person to be sent to a free state.

Occasionally, the children of an enslaved person who was freed would also be freed by an act of the Assembly. The owner could request that the newly freed person be allowed to remain in the State, but there was no guarantee that would be approved.

Here are a few examples from North Carolina
1841 - William H. Haywood and Edward E. Graham, executors of the estate of the late Mary McKinlay, represent that the said McKinlay "by her said will bequeathed & devised that all her slaves (10 or 11 in number) shall be emancipated & the will expressly enjoins it upon your petitioners to ask leave of the General Assembly to emancipate said slaves and let them remain as free people of color in this State." They further state the said will directs them "to send the said slaves out of the State and have them emancipated but not to do this until an effort has been made to procure license from the General Assembly." The petitioner therefore pray "that your honorable body will pass an act allowing them to emancipate the Slaves of Mary McKinlay decd with liberty to said slaves to remain in this State."
--- The petition was rejected by the General Assembly.

1850 - Forty residents of Northampton County ask that James Langford, an "industrious and frugal" slave carpenter, be emancipated. Citing that Langford has a "wife and children [that] are slaves," they report that "he is desirous of remaining in North Carolina with them." The petitioners therefore pray "your Honorable body to pass an act emancipating him." They believe that "by granting this petition your will be an act of kindness for a deserving man, receive the thanks of your petitioners and do no wrong to the public interest."
--- The petition was "laid on the table" or tabled by the General Assembly.

1858 - Thirty-eight residents of Davie County join F. M. Phillips in requesting that his slave Ephraim be emancipated. The petitioners state that the said Ephraim is known "to be of a good character for honesty, industry and fidelity." They further point out that the slave "has a wife and children and if emancipated by our Courts under the general provisions of the Law, that he would be forced to seperate from his family to whom he is much attached and leave the state." The petitioners therefore pray "your Honorable Body to Emancipate Ephraim & authorize him to reside within the limits of North Carolina."
--- The Committee on Slaves and Free Persons of Color, 26 January 1859 reported unfavorably. <I do not know, but assume the petition was rejected.>

Compiled by The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the Race & Slavery Petition project offers a searchable database of petitions to southern legislatures and country courts filed between 1775 and 1867 in the slaveholding states in the United States (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.)
If you would like read some of the petitions yourself, here is the link. http://library.uncg.edu/slavery/petitions/index.aspx?s=1
Excellent
 

DanSBHawk

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Wisconsin
As is abundantly documented, former slaves told white people asking questions exactly what they thought the white folks wanted to hear. The evidence for that is overwhelming. Saying that Ole Massa was a kind & benevolent overlord was the preset for former slaves, no matter who their owners had been.
I would imagine that because Davis was still alive and prominent after the war, that any former slave who criticized the treatment under Davis might come to regret it.
 

Tom Hughes

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Location
Mississippi
The whole folly of race was invented to justify stealing other people’s property because you were doing them a favor. I can’t count the number of “they will die & go to heaven” as an excuse for kidnapping Africans. Doing what God wants you to do is a vicious business.
Well, the result of bringing Africans to America did culminate in their acceptance and adoption of the Gospel. God does work in ways we cannot see until we look back.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Not necessarily. A lot of people in the South inherited enslaved people from their parents or grandparents and it was illegal to free them in the states in which they lived. For example, in order to gain approval to free an enslaved person in North Carolina, one had to: 1) Prove the enslaved person had rendered 'meritorious service.' 2.) File a petition to the General Assembly to gain approval for the enslaved person to be freed. 3.) Provide funding for the newly freed enslaved person to be sent to a free state.

Occasionally, the children of an enslaved person who was freed would also be freed by an act of the Assembly. The owner could request that the newly freed person be allowed to remain in the State, but there was no guarantee that would be approved.

Here are a few examples from North Carolina
1841 - William H. Haywood and Edward E. Graham, executors of the estate of the late Mary McKinlay, represent that the said McKinlay "by her said will bequeathed & devised that all her slaves (10 or 11 in number) shall be emancipated & the will expressly enjoins it upon your petitioners to ask leave of the General Assembly to emancipate said slaves and let them remain as free people of color in this State." They further state the said will directs them "to send the said slaves out of the State and have them emancipated but not to do this until an effort has been made to procure license from the General Assembly." The petitioner therefore pray "that your honorable body will pass an act allowing them to emancipate the Slaves of Mary McKinlay decd with liberty to said slaves to remain in this State."
--- The petition was rejected by the General Assembly.

1850 - Forty residents of Northampton County ask that James Langford, an "industrious and frugal" slave carpenter, be emancipated. Citing that Langford has a "wife and children [that] are slaves," they report that "he is desirous of remaining in North Carolina with them." The petitioners therefore pray "your Honorable body to pass an act emancipating him." They believe that "by granting this petition your will be an act of kindness for a deserving man, receive the thanks of your petitioners and do no wrong to the public interest."
--- The petition was "laid on the table" or tabled by the General Assembly.

1858 - Thirty-eight residents of Davie County join F. M. Phillips in requesting that his slave Ephraim be emancipated. The petitioners state that the said Ephraim is known "to be of a good character for honesty, industry and fidelity." They further point out that the slave "has a wife and children and if emancipated by our Courts under the general provisions of the Law, that he would be forced to seperate from his family to whom he is much attached and leave the state." The petitioners therefore pray "your Honorable Body to Emancipate Ephraim & authorize him to reside within the limits of North Carolina."
--- The Committee on Slaves and Free Persons of Color, 26 January 1859 reported unfavorably. <I do not know, but assume the petition was rejected.>

Compiled by The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the Race & Slavery Petition project offers a searchable database of petitions to southern legislatures and country courts filed between 1775 and 1867 in the slaveholding states in the United States (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.)
If you would like read some of the petitions yourself, here is the link. http://library.uncg.edu/slavery/petitions/index.aspx?s=1
The examples you have posted are typical of the stone faced cruelty that lived under the thin crust of Christian piety slave-holders hid behind.
 

unionblue

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Well, the result of bringing Africans to America did culminate in their acceptance and adoption of the Gospel. God does work in ways we cannot see until we look back.
God didn't bring them here, @Tom Hughes , and forcing any religion upon a people is not always God's work.

And let's be sure we all realize they weren't kidnapped from their homes to be converted by the Gospel.

They were taken by force for profit.
 
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Andersonh1

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I think this is the 6th thread about the false premise that slaves loved their masters I have replied to, so won’t cite sources.

That's not what this thread is discussing. The thread began as one focused on Jefferson Davis and the relationship with his slaves. I think it's clear that some maintained relationships with the Davis family after the war and some did not, and that though he and his brother were not the harsh owners that others were, freedom was preferable to slavery.
 

lurid

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Joined
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I would imagine that because Davis was still alive and prominent after the war, that any former slave who criticized the treatment under Davis might come to regret it.
Exactly. Furthermore, I think the slaves worked from the self-preservation premise when asked about how their so-called masters treated them. In the 1930s, FDR's New Deal had a program that interviewed ex-slaves on how they were treated when they were slaves. Two fascinating discoveries were made: 1). when interviewed by white caseworkers the ex-slaves claimed that they were treated rather well. 2). when interviewed by black caseworkers the ex-slaves said they were treated horribly. The conclusion was the ex-slaves catered to what they thought both parties wanted to hear to get subsidized. It seems like slaves and ex-slaves were always in a precarious situation where they were reluctant to tell the whole truth in fear of consequences..
 

Tom Hughes

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That's not what this thread is discussing. The thread began as one focused on Jefferson Davis and the relationship with his slaves. I think it's clear that some maintained relationships with the Davis family after the war and some did not, and that though he and his brother were not the harsh owners that others were, freedom was preferable to slavery.
Exactly.
We certainly learn a lot from history. Some of which you don't find in the current history books.
The human relationship between master/slave is an interesting one and the Davis example is certainly well worth the discussion.
 

J C J Barefoot

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I think you are missing the point. Edited. Whatever regard they may or may not have had for Davis as a person, none of them wanted to be his slave. That is the only thing that matters.

As is abundantly documented, former slaves told white people asking questions exactly what they thought the white folks wanted to hear. The evidence for that is overwhelming. Saying that Ole Massa was a kind & benevolent overlord was the preset for former slaves, no matter who their owners had been.

Accounts agree that Davis was an eccentric regarding the management of his slaves. In the end, however, it was like the Rule of Thumb in Common Law. You cannot beat your wife with a stick thicker than your thumb. The woman being beaten is hardly expected to say thank you for that when she is beaten. Ditto Davis’ slave who just wanted to live an ordinary life just like anybody else.
The original post was stating that after the war Davis had some former slaves that thought kindly of him. That is the point and I don't think I , or you missed it. It is correct as you write that it is well documented that some former slaves told white people flattering stories about their former masters. If we are to make history work through it's records it's reasonable to not stretch the evidence to prove more than it does, or to prove less than it should. I don't think you are suggesting that because there is historical evidence of some slaves being afraid or unwilling to be forthright regarding their opinion of former masters that there is no possibility that some of the Davis former slaves may have had affections for him.
 

Piedone

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The examples you have posted are typical of the stone faced cruelty that lived under the thin crust of Christian piety slave-holders hid behind.
And it also shows that slave-holders controlled the government, the legal system etc. in the South - and used those powers most ruthlessly for their self-serving interest.

But what about the people that supported such petitions? It could be instructive to do some statistical research: who were those people and how many were they? I assume mostly non-slave owners. They eventually had another stance towards african americans than the dominant slave-owners?

I am also wondering about the personal distress slave-owners showed when "their people" left them for freedom.

1) Was it mere propaganda (especially after the war) to hold up a picture (resp. the lie) of benevolent plantation mangement? Or deceived them themselves in the aftermath wishing they had been better people than they in reality were?

2) Or was it (at least in some cases) a genuine sentiment? I mean you couldn´t have acted as a true-bred "lord of the lash" and whipped and subdued your enslaved and broke up their families - and concurrently expect them to be your "friends".
Such sentiments could only be explained when you tried to act as benevolently and patriarchal as possible in such a system.
---

Anyway patriarchalism can never expect to harvest thankfulness.
Neither the british subjects in India nor Krupp´s factory workers shrinked from aspiring freedom and emancipation (much to the distress of their patriarchs) - as humans are not made to accept a child-like status permanently.
 

Stone in the wall

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For a time, yes.

But I think the idea of the Confistication Acts, the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment and nearly 200,000 freemen and former slaves enlisting in the US Army, sorta puts that period into honest perspective, don't you?
The way it worked out in the end, yes.
The Confiscation Acts and the EP were pretty lame attempts, if one really intended to free all the slaves. But they did in fact give some slaves hope.
Segregation of the USCT shows what their future is.
Final passage of the 13th amendment was just short of the end of the war, 28 months after Lincolns EP, only the end of the war made all free.
 
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