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Recollections of Slavery
By A Runaway Slave
The True Story of Sugar House, Charleston, South Carolina
The Slave Torture House
A Slave Narrative Serialized in The Emancipator in 1838
.....and then carried me to the Sugar House in Charleston. As soon as we got there they made me strip off all my clothes, and searched me to see if I had anything hid. They found nothing but a knife. After that they drove me into the yard where I staid till night. As soon as master's father, Mordecai Cohen, heard that I was caught, he sent word to his son, and the next morning master came. He said "well, you staid in the woods as long as you could, now which will you do,--stay here, or go home?" I told him I did'nt know. Then he said if I would not go home willingly I might stay there two or three months. He said "Mr. Wolf, give this fellow fifty lashes and put him on the tread mill. I'm going North, and shall not be back till July, and you may keep him till that time."
When they had got me fixed in the rope good, and the cap on my face, they called Mr. Jim Wolf, and told him they had me ready. He came and stood till they had done whipping me. One drew me up tight by the rope and the other whipped, and Wolf felt of my skin to tell when it was tight enough. They whipped till he stamped. Then they rubbed brine in, and put on my old clothes which were torn into rags while I was in the swamp, and put me into a cell. The cells are little narrow rooms about five feet wide, with a little hole up high to let in air.
I was kept in the cell till next day, when they put me on the tread mill, and kept me there three days, and then back in the cell for three days. And then I was whipped and put on the tread mill again, and they did so with me for a fortnight, just as Cohen had directed. He told them to whip me twice a week till they had given me two hundred lashes. My back, when they went to whip me, would be full of scabs, and they whipped them off till I bled so that my clothes were all wet. Many a night I have laid up there in the Sugar House and scratched them off by the handful.
There was a little girl, named Margaret, that one day did not work to suit the overseer, and he lashed her with his cow-skin. She was about seven years old. As soon as he had gone she ran away to go to her mother, who was at work on the turnpike road, digging ditches and filling up ruts made by the wagons. She had to go through a swamp, and tried to cross the creek in the middle of the swamp, the way she saw her mother go every night. It had rained a great deal for several days, and the creek was 15 or 16 feet wide, and deep enough for horses to swim it. When night came she did not come back, and her mother had not seen her. The overseer cared very little about it, for she was only a child and not worth a great deal. Her mother and the rest of the hands hunted after her that night with pine torches, and the next night after they had done work, and every night for a week, and two Sundays all day. They would not let us hunt in the day time any other day. Her mother mourned a good deal about her, when she was in the camp among the people, but dared not let the overseer know it, because he would whip her. In about two weeks the water had dried up a good deal, and then a white man came in and said that "somebody's little nigger was dead down in the brook." We thought it must be Margaret, and afterwards went down and found her. She had fallen from the log-bridge into the water. Something had eat all her flesh off, and the only way we knew her was by her dress.
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