Towards the end of 1786, George Washington gave a public statement in which he showed the intention that a plan might be adopted by the United States of America through which slavery might be abolished in a gradual and slow manner. Similarly, other big politicians like Monroe, Jefferson and Madison, all from Virginia, made similar and pragmatic statements about abolition of slavery. In the North-West territories the slavery had already been abandoned altogether by an ordinance of 1787.
In 1808 when the International Trade was declared as illegal and therefore abolished, many White feudal lords were afraid that the slavery would end soon. But the yolk of slavery was further tightened in the throats of Black Africans. Slavery once again emerged as a most profitable institution in the plantation drives of South American States like South Carolina. Cotton industry boomed like anything, new varieties of cotton were invented in 1793. By 1812 more areas were brought under the cultivation of cotton. South Carolina was not far behind. The plantations of sugar cane, tobacco and cotton, sucked the blood of innumerable black slaves.
I am Jane, an African old woman, who lived through the age of slavery under sugar and cotton plantations in South Carolina from 1820s to 1845. I have no idea how my parents were brought as slaves under a barter trade from African Zambia. My mother used to tell me different stories about her arrival on the lands of United States in 1796. But she always confused me. Perhaps, she loved me very much therefore, she was not interested in telling me the real story of her pains, agony, poverty and compulsions under which my mother and father might have sold them selves to the White British traders. But the only good thing was that my mother, by then is a single parent did everything to educate me a little in formal schooling. She died when I was just fifteen years old. Perhaps, she did not know that, my little education would make me more sensitive to the pains of slavery and touchy about my self respect and mental cum bodily wounds. The indelible imprints of these wounds have lived with me till the end of my life in a modern New York City.
I was in the prime of my youth in 1830. South Carolina, the state rich in cotton and sugarcane plantation became a hell for my life and self respect. I remember, the hot, humid days when I was supposed to be present in the field at 6 AM, I usually did not have any breakfast. The whole body of mine, covered with tattered parches were drenched with sweat, an old white fat man, Jacky with lustful eyes used to hand over a bunch of sugarcane nodes for planting them in the marshy, meek soil. When he disappeared I used to crush a few of the sugary nodes under my teeth to quench my thirst of the dry throat and fill my stomach. There was always a risk of being beaten by the old man, who was always found around hurling bad names at the slaves (BIA May 2000).
The whole day was like that. For the whole day I used to carry heavy loads of sugarcane seedlings from one field to another. There were no boots on my feet. I had to walk with bleeding feet all the time through. Wearing the bristles had become my habit. Although, I am Black but blackening under the sun at fifty degree centigrade of temperature is a different experience. There was hardly any water available for a plantation slave like me to wet our lips. We were supposed to drink from the marshy water standing in the fields (Mallard, R. Q. 1830-1904).
The old fat white man, Jacky, who was our supervisor was, however, a bit kind to me in his false hope of having a free ride on me. Sometimes he used to through the remaining pieces of bread from his lunch. But most of the times I had to eat my oats and pasta which was given to all the slaves as a rationed food.
The nights were passed in the company of very big mosquitoes under the muddy huts around the fields. I remember many of my friends having been raped, tortured and killed. There was no remedy for them.
Perhaps, my little education helped me in getting emancipation from the ravages of slavery under the cotton and sugarcane plantations of South Carolina from 1820-1845. I had an appetite for news from all around. Sometimes, in night we used to whisper with each other. Many people used to tell that South Carolina had become the major state for supplying the USA with sugar. The tobacco and cotton growers were moving towards West taking the slaves with them. Somebody told me that Jackson was confronting the state of South Carolina on the issue of farming interests. South Carolina became poorer and poorer.
The farmers were paying the burden of higher prices. In 1832, protest in South Carolina nullified the ordinance on the tariffs. This movement brought a sense of rebellion in my mind. I started thinking of running away. My everyday and night was full of dangers of shame and death (Berlina, Ira, 1992). This was a miracle that I survived till I ran away with another friend of mine to New York. But then it was quiet late. We were then in our late 50s. Perhaps, the most important benefit of my education was that I could tell you my story as a slave?s narrative of South Carolina plantations during 1830s.
1-BIA May, 2000, White image in the black Mind. African American ideas. Google books books.google.com.pk/books?isbn=0195100454
2-Berlina, Ira, 1992, Slaves without masters, New Press New York.
3- Mallard, R. Q. 1830-1904 Plantation Life before Emancipation. docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/texts.html - 60k