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Quotes of the Day

November 29th, 2011 by Brendan Wolfe · 4 Comments

An incomplete and unrealistically negative picture of slavery is pervasive in the culture of this country; it is deliberately perpetrated in order to create the perception of slaveowners as inhuman and total evil — and, by association, the entire Confederacy, thus making the South “deserving” of the destruction by the righteous army of the north. To point out that this picture is agenda driven and incomplete, and thus not true, is not “arguing for slavery.” – Connie Chastain

TWENTY DOLLARS REWARD.—Ranaway from the subscriber a negro girl named Molly. The said girl was sold by Messrs. Wm. Payne & Sons, and purchased by a Mr. Moses, and sold by him to Thos. Frisley, of Edgefield District, of whom I bought her. She is 16 or 17 years of age, LATELY BRANDED ON THE LEFT CHEEK, THUS, R, AND A PIECE TAKEN OFF HER EAR ON THE SAME SIDE: THE SAME LETTER ON THE INSIDE OF BOTH HER LEGS. – Charleston, S.C., Courier (1825)

IMAGE: Slave Pen, Alexandria, Virginia by Andrew Joseph Russell (ca. 1863); See also

Tags: Quote of the Day · Virginia History

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bill Underhill // Nov 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    “There are none so blind as those who will not see.”
    Poor Ms. Chastain. It must be frightfully lonely in her little world, viewing everything through her idealogical lenses . I know, it’s a mixed metaphor.

  • 2 Michael Douglas // Nov 29, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Actually, I doubt it’s particularly lonely for her. The Confederate apologist crowd are nothing if not supreme enablers of one another’s folly.

  • 3 Connie Chastain // Dec 1, 2011 at 3:18 am

    The reference to the Courier illustrates exactly what I was referring to — an incomplete, unrealistically negative picture presented as if it’s the whole. What’s described, as horrific as it is, was not experienced by the majority of slaves, and to present it as the whole is deceptive.

    Mr. Underhill, it must be terrible to feel so morally uncertain that you have to evilize people you disagree with in order to feel good about yourself.

    Mr. Douglas, the “Confederate apologist” crowd are rank amateurs at enabling, when compared to their critics….

  • 4 Brendan Wolfe // Dec 1, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Thanks for the comment, Ms. Chastain. I certainly did not intend for one quotation to represent the whole of slavery. What it does represent, however, is the logical end of a system that treated people as property. If not every owner branded his slaves or cut off parts of their ears, that does not change the fact that these forms of punishment were perfectly legal. Consider, for instance, this act passed by the Virginia General Assembly in March 1643:

    “And if such runnaways shall be found to transgresse the second time or oftener (if it shall be duely proved against them) that then they shall be branded in the cheek with the letter R. and passe under the statute of incorrigible rogues …”

    You can read the whole statute right here on our site: http://encyclopediavirginia.org/Runaway_Slaves_1642-1643

    The historian David Brion Davis has described the transatlantic slave trade “as one of history’s greatest crimes against humanity.” I hope we can agree that this is true, and whether each and every person implicated in the trade and, more generally, in the institution of slavery was evil — well, I just have no interest in debating that. It strikes me as more of a religious question than a historical one.

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