A Picture of Slavery from Southern Judicial Directions.
A member of the bar has furnished the Philadelphia Press with the following extracts from various decisions of the Southern bench, in regard to the rights of slaves and slave-owners. Read them and say whether that man has not just reason to blush who would prolong the existence of a system that tramples on the plainest principles of natural justice:
THE SLAVE A NO BODY.
The slave in the South is regarded as nobody; he has no legal existence; laws passed for the protection of others do not embrace him unless he is specially names; "of the rights of personal security, personal liberty, and private property, he is deprived, and the slave is held pro nullis," (George vs. The State 37 Miss. Rep. 317)
The master is necessarily a despot. "The slave to remain a slave, must be made sensible that there is no appeal from his master," (Sate vs. David, 4 Jones, N. Car., 353) Be he ever so sick, the owner and overseer is the judge whether he is able or unable to work (10 Ala. Rep. 928)
COVENANTS WITH SLAVES NOT BINDING.
A promise made to him by his master has no binding force or validity.
This was exemplified in the case of Bland vs. negro Dowling, (9 Gill & Johnson's Maryland Reports,) here the plaintiff (we blush to say she was a woman) agreed that if her slave would pay her $200, she would give him his freedom. He faithfully and honestly paid the amount, waiting several years for it, and then, claiming her promise, was refused. The rigid law of slavery was in her favor, the Judge saying "there could be no valid contract between master and slave;" but as, fortunately for the poor fellow, she had suffered him to live in New York, a free State, for two years, she was held to have liberated him, and her nefarious attempt to hold him in bondage, when she had received his hard earnings paid to her in good faith, was frustrated.
Nor has he any right to personal property. All belongs to his master; and even where the master is generous enough to confer a boon upon a slave, the hard spirit of slavery, in the shape of odious enactments, comes in to prevent it. Thus, in Louisiana emancipation is prohibited, and the slave can, under no circumstances be freed; and thus, in that State, where a will liberating one poor fellow from servitude, he was complacently told that "a slave cannot be a party to any suit but one for freedom, and that emancipation being prohibited by law, he could not even sue for that." (Jamison vs. Bridge; 14 Louisiana Reports, 31.)
The power of the master over the person of the slave necessarily involves the right of chastisement, and this may be inflicted in such proportions and to such extent as the owner may deem proper, there being but a single limitation, that it should not be excessive, but whether it is or not is left for a jury (slaveholders of course) to judge.
Thus we find the following case: State vs. Man, 2 Devereux, 263, in which it appears, that a master having hired a female slave to another person, the latter undertook to chastise her for having committed (so says the report) a small offense. During the process she ran off; her master for the time called upon her to stop, which she refusing to do, with the chivalric spirit of the South, the slave being a woman, he shot at and wounded her. But, alas! she had no redress. The judge tells her the master is not liable to indictment for assault and battery; and feeling how contrary to all sense of justice and humanity such a decision must appear, is compelled to say: "A judge cannot but lament when such cases as the present are brought into judgment. It is impossible that the reason upon which they go can be appreciated, but where institutions similar to our own exist and are thoroughly understood. The struggle, too in the judge's own breast between the feelings of the man and the duty of the magistrate, is a severe one. I would gladly have avoided this ungrateful questions."
SLAVES MAY BE HUNTED WITH DOGS.
Witness the case of Moran vs. Gardner Davis, 18 Georgia Rep, 722, in which it was decided, that "it is lawful to hunt runaway slaves with dogs, provided it is done with a due degree of caution and circumspection." In that case the plaintiff had hired a slave to the defendant. Whilst in the service of the latter he ran away. Hist master, for the time being, employed a creature by the name of Hamblin, who hunted him with dogs, but the poor fellow, terrified by the pursuit, plunged into a creek and was drowned. The owner sued him for the value of the slave, such an idea as punishing the miscreant criminally being out of the question. But the owner is told by the court "that it is lawful to hunt a slave with dogs on general principles, provided the dogs would not lacerate and otherwise materially injure the slave—the statute of the State prohibiting the use of harsh or cruel treatment of slaves, using the words unnecessarily biting or tearing with dogs."
But this approves itself also to the moral and religious convictions of the judge, who says: "The South has lost sixty thousand slaves, worth twenty five or thirty millions. Instead therefore, of relaxing the means allowed by law for the security and enjoyment of this species of property, the facilities offered for its escape, and the temptation and encouragement held out to induce it, constraining us, willingly or otherwise, to redouble our vigilance, and to tighten the cords that bind the negro to his condition of servitude."
[According to the pro-slavery code of humanity, not only slaves, but also white men, may be rightfully chased and mangled by dogs. This community has a vivid recollection of the advertisement of Capt. Harris and Col. Frank McNairy, both members of the Tennessee pro-slavery aristocracy, for blood hounds to be used in hunting the Union men of the State.]
SLAVES CANNOT MARRY.
Let us examine Merlinder vs. Gardner, 24 Alab., 719, and there we find the law laid down thus:
"Slaves cannot contract marriage, nor does their cohabitation confer any legal rights on their children. Persons in that condition are incapable of contracting marriage, because that relation brings with it certain duties and rights, with reference to which it is supposed to be entered into; but there are necessarily incompatible with the nature of slavery, as the one cannot be discharged nor the other be recognized without doing violence to the rights of the owner. In every State where slavery exists, and the question has been presented, it has so been decided.
"If the father and mother, being slaves, are freed by the master's will, and the father afterwards acquires property the children cannot inherit his property.
"As a necessary consequence it escheats to the State."
The marriage, then, of slaves is a mere idle ceremony. Their children are illegitimate, and have no rights, and even freedom puts their offspring in no better condition.
No wonder, then, that we find such decisions as the following:
Alfred vs. The State ( 8 George, 37 Mississippi Reports) in which it was ruled that "adultery with a slave's wife is no defence to the charge of murder, and that a slave indicted for the murder of his overseer cannot introduce, as evidence for his defense, upon a trial for murder in the first degree, the fact that the deceased, a few hours before the killing, had forced the prisoner's wife to submit to his embraces, and that this had been communicated to the prisoner before the killing."
Look, for instance, at the celebrated Brasealie case, often cited, and reported in 2d Howard, Mississippi Reports 837. There Elisha Brasealle, a planter in Mississippi, was faithfully and successfully nursed by a mulatto slave during a dangers and protracted illness. He afterwards took her to Ohio, had her educated, and finally married here, having first emancipated her, by deed recorded in Ohio and Mississippi. He returned with her to the latter State, where she have birth to a son. Upon Mr. Brasealle's death his will was found, in which he ratified the deed of emancipation, and devised all his property to this son, whom he acknowledge to be such. The will, however, was successfully contested as to the valicity of the emancipation and devised to the son, by some distant relations of the testator in North Carolina. The Judge, (Sharkey) in his opinion, uses this language: "The state of the case shows conclusively that the contract that had its origin in an offence against morality, pernicious and detestable as an example. But, above all, it seems to have been planned and executed with a fixed design to evade the rigor of the laws of this State. The acts of the party in going to Ohio with the slaves, and there executing the deed, and his immediate return with them to this State, point with unerring certainty to his purpose and object. The laws of this State cannot be thus defrauded of their operation by one of our own citizens."
This merciful judge gave no quarter to the slaves. No time was afforded to apply to the Legislature to sanction the emancipation, but the greedy North Carolinians took the whole of the estate, and the mother and son were decreed, in the language of the judge, "still slaves and part of the estate of Elisha Brasealle."
Can those who believe in an overruling and avenging Providence, wonder that a nation which tolerates and maintains such iniquity is devastated and scourged by civil war?
FUNERAL OF COMMANDER WOODHULL.—The funeral services of the late Commander Maxwell Woodhull, U.S.N. (the particulars of whose sad death we recorded in yesterday's Star), were celebrated this morning, in the Unitarian church...Dr. Channing concluded by speaking words of home and comfort to the family and friends of deceased, and after another chant by the choir, the cortege proceeded to the Congreessional cemetery, preceded by the Marine Band and two companies of maries, commanded by Captain C. G. McCauley and Lieutenants Sells, Saltmarsh and Peet, who acted as the funeral escort. The pall bearers were Admiral Davis, Commander Wise, Captains Dove and Nicholson, and Dr. McNairy of the Navy, Majors Cash and Nicholson of the Marine Corps, Prof. Bache of the Coast Survey, Mayro Wallach and Mr. Moran.
Mary M. Green (1808-1888) was the daughter of Capt. John Green Jr. (1766-1831) and his first wife Hester Graig (1765-1818). According to this source, Mary M. never married and made her home in Philadelphia.
Writting to her brother John Sims Green in a letter dated 19 May 1863, this source quotes Mary saying "I have received and expended $300 since just before Christmas for the sick and wonded soldiers in the hospitals. I sent off two boxes weighing 5000 pounds to Fortress Monroe on Friday. We have sent besides five boxes to Missouri. So, you see I have not been idle. I have visited several hospitals here and it is awful. Poor fellows. You meet them all about the streets this fine weather, those who are well enough to go out.--Betty and Hetty are well and delightfully fixed at Christ Hospital and are very happy. They are living in a perfect palace."
Craig Walter Green, TWO NAVAL CAPTAINS of the Revolution---Being a sketch of Capt. John Green, Sr. and Capt. James Craig Jr., typed manuscript dated Christmas 1909, p. 33
...General Harding, the wealthy rebel, visited the city, a day or two ago, and met Mr. Sam Carter, a friend of his, an honest Union man, and the following dialogue took place:
"I tell you what it is, Mr. Carter," said General Harding, "between the Federal and rebel soldiers I am about ruined. My horses, cattle, sheep, buffaloes, deer and poultry, are all gone, and I expect I shall lose all my money."
"Well," says Carter, "why don't you embrace the cause and come out, and let the bogus Confederacy go?"
"Oh, that's nonsense," replied Harding, "if I should do that, I'd lose all my friends."
"Lose your friends! Why, damn it," said Carter, "if you lose your money you'll lose your friends at any rate."
Which was very true and rather hard on Harding.
Frank McNairy, of blood-hound notoriety, once remarked that he hoped to find himself in hell if the Southern Confederacy failed to establish its independence. Frank was killed in the last fight at Donelson, and in all probability he has not only found himself in hell, but has found a great many of his old friends there.
Which is wicked. B.C.T.
Reference: Plain Dealer (Ohio), 20 Apr 1863, p. 1 as indexed at GenealogyBank.com
THE FORT DONELSON FIGHT. — The following is the official report of the late attack on Fort Donelson. It was a brillian affair on our side:
MURFREESBORO, Tenn, Feb. 6.
To Gen. Halleck, General-in-Chief:—Rebel Generals Wheeler, Forrest, Wharton, and Woodward attacked Fort Donelson yesterday at 2 P.M., with 4,000 men and eight pieces of artillery. We had 800 men in the fort, under Col. A.C. Harding. They charged the fortifications several times, but were repulsed by our artillery and infantry with great loss.
The enemy, as usual, before and after the fight, demanded a surrender and offered to spare life if accepted, &c. Col. Harding replied that he was ready for all the consequences.
The enemy's loss in killed was over 100, in prisoners 300. The forces under Col. Lowe, from Fort Henry, are pursuing them, and others are sent to intercept their retreat. Our loss was 2 killed and 30 wounded. W.S. ROSECRANS, Maj.Gen.
It is reported that Colonel Frank McNairy, of "bloodhound" notoriety, was killed in the attack on Fort Donelson.
Reference: Hartford Daily Courant (Connecticut), 09 Feb 1863, p. 2, as indexed at GenealogyBank.com
"We are pained to learn that a rumor is current that Col. Frank McNairy and Capt. James. Kirkman, both of Nashville were among the killed in the recent action at Fort Donelson. Both gentlemen were natives of Tennessee and citizens of Nashville."
Reference: Chattanooga Daily Rebel (Tennessee), 20 Feb 1863, p. 2 as indexed at GenealogyBank.com
We were pleased to meet yesterday our old friend, Maj. Frank McNairy, of General Cheatham's staff. He is rapidly recovering from the wounds he recevied at Perryville and is anxious to return again to active service in the field.
Reference: Chattanooga Daily Rebel, 02 Jan 1863, p. 2, as indexed at GenealogyBank.com
This article is about the suspension of General Leonidas Polk. It contains an exerpt of a letter written by Maj. Frank McNairy.
"In conclusion, the following extract is given from a letter from Maj. Frank McNairy, General Cheatham's aid-de-camp: "I left General Cheatham's headquarters before daylight the morning of the battle and went to General Polk's headquarters. When I got there, which was about daylight, I found General Polk and staff on their horses about-moving to the field, which they did at once. They got there before me, as I stopped to water my horse, which hand not had water for twenty-four hours. When I arrived on the field, he was there. The sun was not more than up when I got to the field.""
Reference: A paper by Dr. Y.R. LeMonnier, of New Orleans, La., a private of the Orleans Light Horse, General Polk's body guard, read before a meeting of the Army of Tennessee, Louisiana Division in The Confederate Veteran Magazine, Vol. XXIV, No. 1, January 1916, pps 17-19. Digital copy by Google Books from the Harvard College Library