Plantation Quotes

Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Consider the following sequence of cases, which we shall call the Tale of the Slave, and imagine it is about you. 1. There is a slave completely at the mercy of his brutal master's whims. He is often cruelly beaten, called out in the middle of the night, and so on. 2. The master is kindlier and beats the slave only for stated infractions of his rules (not fulling the work quota, and so on). He gives the slave some free time. 3. The master has a group of slave, and he decides how things are to be allocated among them on nice grounds, taking into account their needs, merit, and so on. 4. The master allows the slave four days on their own and requires them to work only three days a week on his land. The rest of the time is their own. 5. The master allows his slaves to go off and work in the city (or anywhere they wish) for wages. He also retains the power to recall them to the plantation if some emergency threatens his land; and to raise or lower the three-sevenths amount required to be turned over to him. He further retains the right to restrict the slaves from participating in certain dangerous activities that threaten his financial return, for example, mountain climbing, cigarette smoking. 6. The master allows all of his 10, 000 slaves, except you, to vote, and the joint decision is made by all of them. There is open discussion, and so forth, among them, and they have the power to determine to what use to put whatever percentage of your (and their) earnings they decide to take; what activities legitimately may be forbidden to you, and so on. 7. Though still not having the vote, you are at liberty (and are given the right) to enter into discussion of the 10, 000, to try to persuade them to adopt various policies and to treat you and themselves in a certain way. They then go off to vote to decide upon policies covering the vast range of their powers. 8. In appreciation of your useful contributions to discussion, the 10, 000 allow you to vote if they are deadlocked; they commit themselve3s to this procedure. After the discussion you mark your vote on a slip of paper, and they go off and vote. In the eventuality that they divide evenly on some issue, 5, 000 for and 5, 000 against, they look at your ballot and count it in. This has never yet happened; they have never yet had occasion to open your ballot. (A single master may also might commit himself to letting his slave decide any issue concerning him about which he, the master, was absolutely indifferent.) 9. They throw your vote in with theirs. If they are exactly tied your vote carries the issue. Otherwise it makes no difference to the electoral outcome. The question is: which transition from case 1 to case 9 made it no longer the tale of the slave?

Robert Nozick
I have sometimes thought that the mere hearing of those songs would do more to impress some minds with the horrible character of slavery, than the reading of whole volumes of philosophy on the subject could do. I did not, when a slave, understand the deep meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent songs. I was myself within the circle; so that I neither saw nor heard as those without might see and hear. They told a tale of woe which was then altogether beyond my feeble comprehension; they were tones loud, long, and deep; they breathed the prayer and complaint of souls boiling over with bitterest anguish. Every tone was a testimony against slavery, and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains. The hearing of those wild notes always depressed my spirit, and filled me with ineffable sadness. I have frequently found myself in tears while hearing them. The mere recurrence to those songs, even now, afflicts me; and while I am writing these lines, an expression of feeling has already found its way down my cheek. To those songs I trace my first glimmering conception of the dehumanizing character of slavery. I can never get rid of that conception. Those songs still follow me, to deepen my hatred of slavery, and quicken my sympathies for my brethren in bonds. If any one wishes to be impressed with the soul-killing effects of slavery, let him go to Colonel Lloyd's plantation, and, on allowance-day, place himself in the deep pine woods, and there let him, in silence, analyze the sounds that shall pass through the chambers of his soul, - and if he is not thus impressed, it will only be because "there is no flesh in his obdurate heart." I have often been utterly astonished, since I came to the north, to find persons who could speak of the singing, among slaves, as evidence of their contentment and happiness. It is impossible to conceive of a greater mistake. Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears. At least, such is my experience. I have often sung to drown my sorrow, but seldom to express my happiness. Crying for joy, and singing for joy, were alike uncommon to me while in the jaws of slavery. The singing of a man cast away upon a desolate island might be as appropriately considered as evidence of contentment and happiness, as the singing of a slave; the songs of the one and of the other are prompted by the same emotion.

Frederick Douglass
It took only a few hours for an exaggerated version of the attack on Dr. De Glew to reach all of Stanley. The big orderly told his wife; she told her sister who was married to a gas station worker; he in turn described the fight to a helper on the tank truck that serviced the Stanley station in competition with Gurmandy's. The two-man staff of the station plus four hangers-on and three children heard a tale of how a man who had turned into a wolf was vanquished by a seven-foot-tall Negro doctor armed with a pitch torch and how the wolf-man was even now stalking the towns in Washington, Bolivar, and Rapture counties. By nightfall terror held full sway. No locks could withstand the assault of the killer. No weapons save the torch could fend him off. No areaway was free of his shadow nor any wooded place safe from his onslaught. Every dog's bay was the wolf cry of the maddened man. On the plantations toward MacAllister and Skene, terrified tenants were brought to the main house by pickup truck to sleep on porches, in the kitchens, and in outbuildings. When the moon came up yellow that night over the flat land, the families in from the field gathered around a big fire and salted it with sulphur; their voices sounded low and awed drifting up to the windows of the dining room in the main house where the plantation owner ate with his own family. Around the fire, old men talked of the days before the tall evergreen cane was felled, of how wolves as big as lions crept among the cabins and watched while the older boys went by, waiting to grab off the youngest of the toddlers amid the screams of desolated mothers. Then the eyes of the youngsters around the fire grew wide. They sobbed and pressed up against their mothers, until one of the other men said sharply, 'Hush up, you're scaring the children.' There was silence then around the fire for a while, each with his own thoughts: of wolves who were truly men and men who were wolves. No man rode horseback at night if he could avoid it, and no hitchhiker was offered a lift save by the foolhardy or the secret death-lover. For town dwellers, the walk in at twilight from the garage to the house seemed inordinately long and dark.

Leslie H. Whitten Jr.
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