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Letter Of One Of Gerrit Smith's Tennessee Correspondents

Letter Of One Of Gerrit Smith's Tennessee Correspondents image
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. , E. Te'jjessee, Feb. 7, 1842. Dear Sir: - Your letter in reply to mine of November 27th is received - and to-day tvvo numbers of the Friend of Man. Ia reviewing my letter published in oneol' them, I notice a word or two, that does not exactly convey my mean mg. My remark that we do not intend to eay much about siavery unlil a división of the State is efïected, meanl that we do not declare the abolition of siavery to be the motive for dividing the State. On n. 11 suitable occasions, Í endeavor to convince the people with whom I have intercourse, that siavery is destructive of their best interests. On liiis subject I spenk freely, and with as little fear, as I shoulJ in the Northern States. Ia E. Tennessee there appears to be a freedom of discussion on this Bubject ihat does the people much honor. A few days since I had a conversaron with Moj. one of the magistrales ofthis county, anda year ago last December, one of the purchasers of the slaves, sold as the property of a Mr. .Ho has some seven or eight slaves, I believe. He told me ho was convinced that slavery is the most destructiva thing that could be to the happiness and prosperity of a communily. He declares, that he will set all of his slaves free readily, if others will do ihe same - at other times, he openly declares himsclf on abolitionists. Of all the slaveholders in tliis county,thatlknow - and I am acquainted with nearly all - there are but two, who do not offer their landa for sale. Slavehoiding agriculture ia so miserable, that itnppears to be dyiog of natural weakness. There were a few incidents in my late tour, that I omitted to notice. On the 2d week in November, I went down to Calhouo on Hiwassee; it is siluated on the north east bank where the raüroad crosses the river. Ou the opposite is Charleston. Il was there that the Cherokees were quartered Ijefore retnovmg to the West. 1 weut Out among tho frail tenements, where they were shellered, now BÜent and falling to ruins. The dram shop, too is deserted where they wero tempted to drunkenness. Their being kept in id'.eness, their living differently from wbat they had been accustomed to, their despondene)' under the cruel injustice with which they were robbed of their country - all together, hurried them lo their graves. They died in great numbers. I sawsome who had guarded them; others, who went with them to the West, said the detachments which they accompanied lost more than one tenth of their number, on the journey, by death. At night, ï stopped at the houau of an agcd widow, oa the roari toAthens. The good lady was acquaini ed with many aflecting inciden ts, that uecurred with these people - she said our country had much to onsvver for, ou account of their cruel treatment of ihe_ poor lndians. ;When about fivo miles below Athene;' on passing the house oí a Mr. ■ -, 1 was surprised to see his slave, a man aboul 25 year8 of age, tied to a iocusi tree in the yard nearly in front of his house. The poor fellow was siripped lo his waist, the cords were passed round his legs, so as to confine thetn closely lo the tree, his hands wei e crossed and tied together, brought up next to the tree, and lashed fast to it. He appeared to have been prepared for one of those terrible scourgings, so comraon with unrestrained despotism. Mr. was noi in sight. Some two weeks before, I hud been inlro- duced to him, and had had one or two ■jüendly convcrsations with him. I delerraiued at once to cali and see if I could nol Bsuade bim from :-i;c!i barbarily. 1 slopm before the door. lic came out, took me by tho hand, but was so much excited by pasion, that he spoke with difficulty. ■ynied a friendly conversaüon with hi Bisóme 10 or 15 Hing tohis slave. when his passion : Kred to become calmed. Then turnii ; to the slave I inquired of him, if hie "boy1' gave bim trouble. He said, yes - that, the night befure, he went óut without leavc, hc did not say, j r motives, or to vitit a Hntd determined on whipid went with a whip for tliat and, ihat the ave rail down the j road. He fullowed with his horse, and Riim in aboul a half a mile. He then tied him, to givè him a very severe whipping. I asked, if he had generally been ooedient. He 6aid he had. I asked him if he wquld not be safe to takc a fair promise, and try him again, adding, that when mild means would answer, 1 1 thQught thein be&t. He said he would try him, that he had been very angry, was ghid he had not whipped him; for he intended, to be very ee v-ere. It was the first time be had üllowed himself to get in such a passioa with him. He appeared a little mortified, that he had indulged such violent passions. As Í bade him good mom ing he went to untie the poor fellow, who, 1 hnve no doubt, was as much obliged to me for my cali, as his master was. Mr. in his usual inteicourse with society hau nothingofthe appearance of the tyrant about him. He is a man of ardent, buil ehould think, when not in a passion, of tender feelings. Accustomed to indulge unrestrained passions from youth, slaveholders, when angry lacérate the poor slaves, and often express their sorrow for it, when iheir passions have subsided. At Athens, the communiiy were tlirown into a high exciiement by the murder of a Mrs. McMahan and her little daughter of ebout VZ or 13 years of age, by theirslave. Tlio family lived about four miles from Athens. The tiusband had gonc wilh his wagon and another siuvc sorue miles from home thul morning, whën a persoa calling al his house ditcovered his wife and danghter, lying dead. Tiiey hud heen killed by an axe. What could have prompted the deed no one kuew. She was said to bo kind lo him - a womau of amiaüle character and pious. They followed, and soon overtook the wagon, and fnformed the busband of the melancholy fáte of his wife and daughler. They look the slavc with him and whipped him lo make him own, (hut he was un accotnplice - that tho murder had been concocted belween them - and thut he was lo have murdered li is master before he carne home. The poor fellovv, iike liie unfurtunate 6oldier in the siege ofMuntgaiz, wouldswear to auy thing - they made him iiwu so tnuch, that they hurdly believud what he confessed. ile was brought to jil At'iur some 9 or 10 days the inurduior was caught, severely scourged Uy llie mob, tried by the Cuurt, and hung. Ho fully acquilted his fellow slave of anv knowledge or participation in his crime - he said, it was a momentary resolution. that he did not Iike his mistress. 1 do noi learn, that he gave any oiher reasDiis (or killing her and her dnughter. He was about twent}-, extremely ignorant, and said to be ill tempered. The other sluvt was, 1 believe, laken ofFto be sold. This is the fifth case within the last threc years that has come lo my knowledgu oía 8lave'a killing hia owaer m East 1 ennessec; buJ, in every instance befqre, it wus the master, who wns killed, nnd for cruelty to ihe slave's wife or children. Wheo at the house of Mr. B. a few days after, I mentioned this murderoí' Mrs. McMahan, he said she was his own couáin, He toid me that her brotlicr living in Mississippi some two or three years since followed a slave who had run awav - they caughi him, chained him to a tree and burnt him alive. Mr. C told me, that,n short timo before passing his house in November, n slave had been dangörously woundeil, by Adam Meek. M. was a niember of Mr. VV's church. The slave was owned by u Mr. McBee. A year or more before, the ?lave of McBee was at Meek's when two of Meeks sla ves assaulted him; he defended himself, and went home. Soon after they had crossed tiie Holston river ruul again assaulted him in the tields of iMcBee, either to whip the slave or send him over to be whipped. McBee said that in the aiïair his slave had only defended hiinse'f - that in his-view hg,was uotto hlume in;lhe first nstauce - he shuuld rcfusc to do either, but cai bh chivfi io a.voirlMeek. Afler u year haU passer', . ns Mi-Bce took him with her ue she fonleil üie river on the Sabbath. After crüSriiny he gavo him leave to mukf a cali, biir, to avoid Meefc, íopass round the íii:lds. Un fortuaalely he met wjpjÍMeek in one oí his fields, who oráermrl him tu stand - he declined. Meekthén called tome of his associa.les'to heJpbim and lo bring a bull dog. The (Jog cnught him and tore his legs; but havl a club he ccu!d keep lliu dog off when standing, bui if he atlempted to run, the dog caught and tore him.- Meek threw alones at him - they had sharp angles and'cut him badly. A jreiii in his nee!; was so cut, tliat he bied profusely. JÈfé surrendered and was laken lo the house of Meek, who became alarmed, fearing he vould bleed to death, and sen( for Mrs. McBee, who was his sister, to come and stop the blood. She carue, but told him, as he had opened his veins he might close them - she should not inter(etG. Near cvening, Mr. B. cnme home, and learning what had happened, went for he slave. He raet him all covered with blood, stipported by une on each eide, who werc conducting him home. Mr. B unly inquired of him, if he thought he should recover. [Ie said he hoped so. - He then passed on to Meek, inquired of lira why he had so abused his slave. - Vleek said: ".sit down, 1 will teli you." - Mr. McBee said l'you will teil me so many lies, that I hall not kn.nv whut tu believc," whichexciied Meek. Mr. McBee said: uhad you not better get your gun and shoot me." Meek said he vuuld,wcnt into the other room and took down his gun : two yourig men, I believe his sons, scizoiJ it, took it frorn him and dischargeii ir. - Mr. McBee, who is usually a cool quiüi mannextaltacked him wilh hiscane which ho used witiiout mercy, and left him fVijp home. Meek ieizeü the rifie, charged it, and pursued. In taking it from his sou, he used his knife, but before he overtook Mr. McBee he fuinted with the loss ol blood and (ell and was carried home. Mr. rdctíee has suid him for injuringhis slave, and indicted him for an ussault with intent to kill. Meek has indicted Mr. McBee for an assault and sued for damages. This I know must be painful to you, periiMps offensive. Meek is a member of a Ptcsbyterian Church, that has a pro slavery clergyman. The slave is living and now abie to work; a brolher of McBee told me he feared he would never entirely recover. Although we have slavery in a mitigated form in Kast 'l'ennessee, yet it has horrors enough. A few du vs since, 127 slaves passed in a drove. They were going from a worn out plantation ia N. C. to a fresh one in the Western district of this' State. Wiieii they have made that sterile, they mny go next to Texas. Thoy were furuished with corn and meal and bacon enouh for their necessary food. They were owned by Mr. Polk. It Í3 said, their ownersed in hÍ3 coach and Tour. His bro(hcrs,l suppose them to be, removed u year or two since. They were oí' ihe aristocracy of Norih Carolina ,drove iheir coach nial íuur, going with iheir alavés in quesl of ncw lands. Ono tliing has always striulí me as rom.iikable. A slaveholder appoar.s lo have no attachment for his place of nuivity or ancestral íarm. When worn out, he abandons it without care or rerct, goes lo soine new one,soon spreads desolauon and stcnlüy a round him and removes again. Butslavery isgrowing unpopular. The price of produce i? fow. Cotlon is so depressed thal il pays but pocrly for raioiny it. íf il kecps at what it now iá or 'Tal 1.5 lower, the conclusión will eoon be, lliat slavery is noi worlh quarre.l}ínL abouf. Sincerely your íriend