This is the third of my series honoring the voices of those who were enslaved. It is also my way of condemning the tendency to glorify the so-called Confederacy, that most treasonous and vile federation, that was founded on the backs of my ancestors.
It is fitting that the voices of those enslaved tell the truth about who these people really were, and the horror that they justified behind noble sounding rhetoric and vile lies.
Haley Barbour said this about slavery this week:
On Sunday, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R-Miss) defended Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's omission of slavery from his "Confederate History Month" proclamation.
Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," Barber said that the firestorm of controversy raised by McDonnell's proclamation is "just a nit". "It's trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn't matter for diddly," Barbour claimed.
McDonnell apologized for the omission, but when host Candy Crowley asked Barbour if he thought failing to mention slavery in the Virginia proclamation was a mistake, Barbour replied, "I don't think so." He pointed out that Mississippi's Democratic legislature has also approved measures commemorating Confederate history.
He defends people like the "owner" of Harriet Jacobs. She hid in an attic crawl space for seven years to escape the lechery of this man. She talked about it, wrote about it later, after she was free. She said:
If God has bestowed beauty upon her [a female slave], it will prove her greatest curse. That which commands admiration in the white woman only hastens the degradation of the female slave. I know that some are too much brutalized by slavery to feel the humiliation of their position, but many slaves feel it most acutely and shrink from the memory of it. I cannot tell how much I suffered in the presence of these wrongs nor how I am still pained by the retrospect. My master met me at every turn, reminding me that I belonged to him and swearing by heaven and earth that he would compel me to submit to him. If I went out for a breath of fresh air after a day of unwearied toil, his footsteps dogged me. If I knelt by my mother’s grave, his dark shadow fell on me even there. The light heart which nature had given me became heavy with sad forebodings. The other slaves in my master’s house noticed the change. Many of them pitied me, but none dared to ask the cause. They had no need to inquire. They knew too well the guilty practices under that roof, and they were aware that to speak of them was an offense that never went unpunished. . . .
The secrets of slavery are concealed like those of the Inquisition. My master was, to my knowledge, the father of eleven slaves. But did the mothers dare to tell who was the father of their children? Did the
other slaves dare to allude to it, except in whispers among themselves? No, indeed! They knew too well the terrible consequences. . . .
You may believe what I say, for I write only that whereof I know. I was twenty-one years in that cage of obscene birds. I can testify from my own experience and observation that slavery is a curse to the whites as well as to the blacks. It makes the white fathers cruel and sensual, the sons violent and licentious; it contaminates the daughters and makes the wives wretched. And as for the colored race, it needs an abler pen than mine to describe the extremity of their sufferings, the depth of their degradation.
Yet few slaveholders seem to be aware of the widespread moral ruin occasioned by this wicked system. Their talk is of blighted cotton crops — not of the blight on their children’s souls.
_Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, 1861