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The New Man Twenty-nine years a slave, twenty-nine years a free man

The New Man
Twenty-nine years a slave, twenty-nine years a free man
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Title: The New Man Twenty-nine years a slave, twenty-nine years a free man
Release Date: 2018-08-02
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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H. C. BRUCE.
H. C. BRUCE.

{i}

The New Man.


Twenty-nine Years a Slave.

Twenty-nine Years a Free Man.


RECOLLECTIONS OF

H. C. BRUCE.


YORK, PA.
P. ANSTADT & SONS,
1895.

{ii}


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1895, by
H. C. BRUCE,
In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.


{iii}

PREFACE.

The author offers to the public this little book, containing hispersonal recollections of slavery, with the modest hope that it will befound to present an impartial and unprejudiced view of that system. Hisexperience taught him that all masters were not cruel, and that allslaves were not maltreated. There were brutal masters and there weremean, trifling lazy slaves. While some masters cruelly whipped, half fedand overworked their slaves, there were many others who provided fortheir slaves with fatherly care, saw that they were well fed andclothed, and would neither whip them themselves, nor permit others to doso.

Having reached the age of twenty-nine before he could call himself afree man, and having been peculiarly fortunate in all his surroundingsduring the period of his slavery, the author considers himself competentto deal with all concerned, fairly and without prejudice, and he willfeel more than repaid for his labor, if he can throw even some littlenew light upon this much mooted question. He believes that we are toofar removed now from the heart burnings and cruelties of that system ofslavery, horrible as it was, and too far removed from that bloody strifethat destroyed the system, root and branch, to let our accounts of itnow be colored by its memories. Freedom has been sweet indeed to theex-bondman. It has been one glorious harvest of good things, and hefervently prays for grace to forget the past and for strength to goforward to resolutely meet the future.

The author early became impressed with the belief, which has sincesettled into deep conviction, that just as the whites were divided intotwo great classes, so the slaves were divided. There are certaincharacteristics of good blood, that manifest themselves in the honor andability and other virtues of their possessors, and these virtues couldbe seen as often exemplified beneath black skins as beneath white ones.There were those slaves who would have suffered death rather than submit{iv}to dishonor; who, though they knew they suffered a great wrong in theirenslavement, gave their best services to their masters, realizing,philosophically, that the wisest course was to make the best of theirunfortunate situation. They would not submit to punishment, but wouldfight or run away rather than be whipped.

On the other hand there was a class of Negroes among the slaves who werelazy and mean. They were as untrue to their fellows as to themselves.Like the poor whites to whom they were analogous in point of blood, theyhad little or no honor, no high sense of duty, little or no appreciationof the domestic virtues, and since their emancipation, both of theseinferior blooded classes have been content to grovel in the mire ofdegradation.

The “poor white” class was held in slavery, just as real as the blacks,and their degradation was all the more condemnable, because being white,all the world was open to them, yet they from choice, remained in theSouth, in this position of quasi slavery.

During the slave days these poor whites seemed to live for no higherpurpose than to spy on the slaves, and to lie on them. Their ambitionswere gratified if they could be overseers, or slave drivers, or“padrollers” as the slaves called them. This class was conceived andborn of a poor blood, whose inferiority linked its members for all timeto things mean and low. They were the natural enemies of the slaves, andto this day they have sought to belittle and humiliate the ambitiousfreeman, by the long catalogue of laws framed with the avowed intentionof robbing him of his manhood rights. It is they who cry out about“social equality,” knowing full well, that the high-toned Negro wouldnot associate with him if he could.

If there had been no superior blooded class of blacks in the South,during the dark and uncertain days of the war, there would not have beenthe history of that band of noble selfsacrificing heroes, who guardedwith untiring and unquestioned faith, the homes and honor of thefamilies of the very men who were fighting to tighten their chains. Nobrighter pages of history will ever be written, than those which recordthe services of the{v} slaves, who were left in charge of their masters’homes. These men will be found in every case to have been those, who asslaves would not be whipped, nor suffer punishment; who would protectthe honor of their own women at any cost; but who would work withhonesty and fidelity at any task imposed upon them.

The author’s recollections begin with the year 1842, and he willendeavor to show how slaves were reared and treated as he saw it. Hisrecollections will include something of the industrial conditions amidstwhich he was reared. He will discuss from the standpoint of the slave,the conditions which led to the war, his status during the war, and willrecord his experiences and observations regarding the progress of theNegro since emancipation.

It is his belief, that one of the most stupendous of the wrongs whichthe Negro has suffered, was in turning the whole army of slaves loose ina hostile country, without money, without friends, without experience inhome getting or even self-support. Their two hundred and fifty years ofunrequited labor counted for naught. They were free but penniless in theland which they had made rich.

But though they were robbed of the reward of their labor, though theyhave been denied their common rights, though they have beendiscriminated against in every walk of life and in favor of every breedof foreign anarchist and socialist, though they have been made to feelthe measured hate of the poor white man’s venom, yet through it all theyhave been true; true to the country they owe (?) so little, true tothe flag that denies them protection, true to the government thatpractically disowns them, true to their honor, fidelity and loyalty, thebirthrights of superior blood.

H. C. BRUCE,
Washington, D. C.
{vi}

TABLE OF CONTENTS.

 PAGE.
CHAPTER I
Correct Date of Birth.—Reasons Ex-Slaves Cannot givetheir Ages.—Childhood Days in Slavery.—Emigrationto Missouri in 1844.—Return to Virginia in1847.—Life in the New Country.—Hunting, Fishingand Playing.—Treed by Wild Hogs.—NarrowEscape from Abolitionists at Cincinnati, Ohio, andService as a Slave for Seventeen Years Thereafter asa Result11
CHAPTER II
Happy Days Spent Till Thirteen Years Old.—The OldMillpond and the Trusted Old Slave Miller.—SlaveChildren Treated Tenderly and Kindly.—Overseer’sBrutality Checked by Old Mistress.—Whipped onAccount of a Lie Told by a Poor White Man.—Statusof Poor White Trash.—Fewer Liberties ThanSlaves.—No Association or Intermarriage with theRuling Class.—Hauled to the Polls and Forced toVote as the Master Class Directed.—Poor Whites asWell as the Slaves Freed by the War.—Both ClassesEqually Illiterate.—The Old Master Class and theColored People Can Live in Peace, were it not forthe Poor White Trash24
CHAPTER III
Runaway Negroes.—Cause and Effect.—Some Dangerousto Capture.—Mean Masters and Good Ones.—TheGood and the Mean Slave.—The Unruly andFighting Class, Who Would not Submit.—Inferiorand Superior Blood and How Divided.—The TypicalPoor Whites Have Inferior Blood in TheirVeins.—Superior Blood in Slave Veins.—How SuperiorBlooded Slaves Took in Their Situation andSpent Life in Their Master’s Service and are theBetter Class of Colored Citizens To-day.—BloodWill Tell, Regardless of the Color of the Individualin Whose Veins it Flows32
CHAPTER IV
Visit to the Old Home, July, 1893.—Great Changes Since1849.—Plantations Deserted.—Masters and SlavesGone.—Land Returned Almost to Primeval Condition.—FewOld Inhabitants Found.—Old MajorStill Active at Ninety-five Years.—That old PublicHighway, that was the Pride of the Community.—Its{vii}Old Bed Cut in Gullies or Grown up in Forest.—WhatRailroads Have Done for that Country andthe South43
CHAPTER V
Extent to Which Education Has Stamped Out Belief inSuperstition, Voodooism, Tricking and ConjuringAmong Colored People.—More Dense the Ignorancethe More Prosperous the Business of the Conjurer.—AllPains and Aches Due to Tricking.—ConjurersBoast of Their Ability to do the Impossible,and How They Were Feared.—A Live ScorpionTaken Out of a Man’s Leg.—A Noted Old ConjurerPlaces His “Jack” Under the Master’s DoorStep, Which Prevents Him from Carrying His Slavesout of the Country.—Slaves in Missouri not Believersin Voodooism Much.—Indians Believe inSpirit Dance, Colored in Voodooism and the WhitePeople in Witchcraft52
CHAPTER VI
Carried to the Cotton Fields of Mississippi in 1849.—CottonPicking Under a Mean Overseer and Method ofTreatment.—Good Masters Even in That State.—MasterDecides to Carry His Slaves Back to Missouri,Which Causes Great Rejoicing.—HandshakingWhen they Reached Brunswick, Mo.—Work ina Tobacco Factory.—Positive Refusal to go withMaster to Texas in 1855.—His Anger, but Final Acquiescence.—PleasantLife in Tobacco Factories BecauseMaster did not whip his Slaves nor Allow it tobe Done by Others.—White and Colored preachers.—Rev.Uncle Tom Ewing and his ObjectionablePrayer.—Virtue and Marital Relations Encouragedby Masters Among Slaves.—High Toned Slaves.—Deathby Suicide rather than Disgrace60
CHAPTER VII
Status of Free Negroes in Missouri Prior to the War.—Hadbut Little More Liberties than Slaves.—Guardiansto Attend to their Business.—Could not LeaveHome without a Pass.—Free Davy an Exception.—Respectedand Treated like a Man by all who KnewHim.—Blood will Tell and he had Superior Blood.—FreeBorn People Considered Themselves Betterthan Those Freed by the War.—Bitter Feeling Betweenthe two Classes ended Several Years after theWar.—The War Freed Both Classes.—Rev. Jesse{viii}Mills and Rev. Moses White, Ex-Slaves and Failureto get Assignments.—Rev. W. A. Moore and J. W.Wilson, Ex-Slaves Occupying good Charges76
CHAPTER VIII
Life on a Farm and Master hard to Please.—SlavesRaised their Own Crop which Master sold for Them.—GoodOld Father Ashby Treated his SlavesKindly while Rev. S. J. M. Beebe was the MeanestMaster in the Neighborhood.—Chas. Cabell, CalledHard Master.—Personal Experience Shows he had aLazy lot of Slaves.—Ill-treated beast of Burden andIll-treated Slaves are much Alike.—Dan Kellogg asa Free Sailer Before the War and as a Rebel BushwhackerDuring it82
CHAPTER IX
Campaign of 1860, more Exciting than the Hard CiderOne of 1840.—Bob Toombs’ Declaration.—Split inthe National Democratic Party at Charleston, S. C.,April 23, 1860.—Cause and Results.—LincolnElected.—Missouri’s Vote for S. A. Douglass.—HigherPower than Man in Control.—All ClassesSuffered by the War, but Neutrals Most.—Poor IlliterateWhites out as Patrols to Keep Slaves Quiet.—Funwith those Patrols who Could not Read Passes.—LindseyWatts, and How He Fooled Them.—WhoSet the Town on Fire?—No Judas AmongSlaves.—They Believed the War was for their Freedom.—BestBlood Went South to Shoot and beShot at While Cowards Remained as Bushwhackers.—JamesLong, the Original Lincoln Man.—HisMisfortune a Blessing.—Slave Property a DeadWeight to Owners After 1862.—Business of NegroTraders at an End for Ever.—Master’s Slave his bestFriend After All.—Master’s Property Stolen byWhite Thieves in Uncle Sam’s Uniform.—YoungMaster Returns after the War, Broken in Health,Cash and Disfranchised93
CHAPTER X
Enlistment of Colored Troops at Brunswick, Mo., from1863 to the Close of the War and how Assigned.—Mastergave his Slaves free Passes to Induce them toRemain with Him and out of the Army.—Contractto Remain with Him One Year Broken, and theCause.—Elopement with the Girl I Loved.—ExcitingChase Thirty Miles on Horseback, Armed with{ix}a Pair of Colt’s Navies.—Pursued by the Girl’sMaster and His Friends.—Laclede Reached in Safetyand Pursuers Fooled.—Full History of Flight,Escape, Marriage by Rev. John Turner of Leavenworth,Kansas.—Visit to Old Master in January,1865.—Found him Dejected.—Farm Rifled by ThievesDressed as Soldiers, but They Left Him the Land107
CHAPTER XI
New Problem to Solve.—Self Sustenance and Economy.—AllBills to Pay and Furnish Necessaries.—DifferenceBetween White Men in a Free State and OldMaster Class in Dealing with Ex-Slaves.—GreatConfidence in the Word of Old Master Class, WhoWould Not Lie to Slaves.—Cheated by White Menin Kansas.—Has Old Master Class Degenerated?—ColoredPeople set Free Without a Dollar or NextMeal and Told to “Root Hog or Die” by a GreatChristian Nation.—Who Made this Country Tenablefor the White Man and Whose Service BroughtMillions of Dollars to it,
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