Rules for Plantation Management (1853)

This lesson can be used with The United States: An Open Ended History, a free online textbook.  Adapted in part from open sources.

Plantation Management, De Bow’s xiv (February 1853): 177-8 The following rules for the instruction of overseers, and the Management of  Negroes, are by Mr. St. Geo Cocke, one of the wealthiest and most  intelligent planters of the old dominion. They are worthy of the note of  planters everywhere: 


PLANTATION MANAGEMENT. POLICE. 

1st. It is strictly required of the manager that he rise at the dawn of day  every morning; that he blow a horn for the assembling of the hands; require  all hands to repair to a certain and fixed place in ten minutes after the  blowing of the horn, and there himself see that all are present, or notice  absentees; after which the hands will receive their orders and be started to  their work under charge of the foreman. The stable will generally be the  most convenient place for the assembling of all hands after morning call. 

2nd. All sick negroes will be required to report to the manager at morning  call, either in person, if able to do so, or through others, when themselves  confined to the house. 

3rd. Immediately after morning call, the manager will himself repair to the  stable, together with the ploughmen, and see to the proper feeding, cleaning  and gearing of the horses. He will also see to the proper feeding and care of  the stock at the farm yard. 

4th. As soon as the horse and stock have been fed and otherwise attended  to, the manager will take his breakfast; and immediately after, he will visit  and prescribe for the sick, and then repair to the fields to look after the  hands; and he will remain with them as constantly as possible during every  day. 

5th. The sick should be visited not only every morning immediately after  breakfast, but as such other times of the day and night as cases may  require. Suitable medicine, diet, and other treatment, be prescribed, to be  administered by the nurse; or in more critical cases, the physician should be  sent for. An intelligent and otherwise suitable woman will be appointed as a nurse upon each plantation, who will administer medicine and otherwise  attend upon the sick. 

6th. There will be stated hours for the negroes to breakfast and dine, and  those hours must be regularly observed. Breakfast will be at eight o’clock,  and dinner at one o’clock. There will be a woman to cook for the hands, and  she must be required to serve the meals regularly at those hours. The manager will frequently inspect the meals as they are brought by the cook,  see that they have been properly prepared, and that vegetables be at all  times served with the meat and bread. 

7th. The manager will, every Sunday morning after breakfast, visit and  inspect every quarter, see that the houses and yards are kept clean and in  order, and that the families are dressed in clean clothes. 

8th. Comfortable and ample quarters will be provided for the negroes. Each  family will have a separate room with fireplace, to be furnished with beds,  bedsteads, and blankets, according to the size of the family; each room will,  also, be furnished with a table, chairs, or benches, and chest for the clothes,  a few tin plates and cans, a small iron pot for cooking, &c. 

9th. The clothing to be furnished each year will be as follows: —  To each man and boy, 1 woolen coat, 1 pair do. pants, 1 pair of do. socks, 1  shirt, 1 pair of shoes, 1 wool hat, and a blanket every second year, to be  given 15th of November. 1 shirt, 1 pair of cotton pants, 1 straw hat, 1 pair  of shoes, to be given 1st of June.  To each woman and girl, 1 woolen frock, and to those who work in the field 1 woolen cape, 1 cotton shift, 1 pair stockings, 1 pair shoes, 1 cotton head  handkerchief, 1 summer suit of frock and shift, a blanket every second year,  and to women with more than one child, 2 blankets every second year. To children under 10 years of age, 1 winter and summer suit each. 

10th. Provisions will be issued weekly as follows: Field Hands . To each man, three and a half pounds bacon, and one and a half pecks meal. To each woman, girl and boy, two and a half pounds bacon, and one peck meal.  InDoor Hands. To each man and boy, two pounds bacon, and one peck corn  meal. To each woman and girl, two pounds bacon, and one peck corn meal.  to each child over two years and under ten years, one pound bacon, and  half a peck of corn meal.  To the above will be added milk, buttermilk, and molasses, at intervals, and  at all times vegetables, and fresh meat occasionally. 

11th. As much of the clothing must be made on the plantation as possible, wool and cotton should be grown in sufficient quantities for this purpose, and the women having young children be required to spin and weave the  same, and the managers’ wives will be expected to give particular attention  to this department, so essential to economical management. 

12th. A vegetable or kitchen garden will be established and well cultivated,  so that there may be, at all seasons, an abundance of wholesome and nutritious vegetables for the negroes, such as cabbages, potatoes, turnips, beets, peas, beans, pumpkins, &c. 

13th. A horn will be sounded every night at nine o’clock, after every negro  will be required to be at his quarters, and to retire to rest, and that this rule  may be strictly enforced, the manager will frequently, but at irregular and  unexpected hours of the night, visit the quarters and see that all are present, or punish absentees. 

14th. Each manager will do well to organize in his neighborhood, whenever practicable, patrol parties, in order to detect and punish irregularities of the  negroes, which are generally committed at night. But lest any patrol party  visit his plantation without apprising him of their intention, he will order the  negroes to report to him every such visit, and he will promptly, upon receiving such report, join the patrol party and see that they strictly conform  to the law whilst on this plantation, and abstain from committing any abuse. 

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Comparing Slavery and Factory Life

This lesson can be used with The United States: An Open Ended History, a free online textbook.  Adapted in part from open sources.

The negro slaves of the South are the happiest, and in some sense, the freest people in the world. The children and the aged and infirm work not at all, and yet have all the comforts and necessaries of life provided for them. They enjoy liberty, because they are oppressed neither by care or labor. The women do little hard work, and are protected from the despotism of their husbands by their masters. The negro men and stout boys work, on the average, in good weather, no more than nine hours a day. The balance of their time is spent in perfect abandon. Besides, they have their Sabbaths and holidays. White men, with so much of license and abandon, would die of ennui; but negroes luxuriate in corporeal and mental repose. With their faces upturned to the sun, they can sleep at any hour; and quiet sleep is the greatest of human enjoyments. “Blessed be the man who invented sleep.” ‘Tis happiness in itself—and results from contentment in the present, and confident assurance of the future. We do not know whether free laborers ever sleep. They are fools to do so; for, whilst they sleep, the wily and watchful capitalist is devising means to ensnare and exploit them. The free laborer must work or starve. He is more of a slave than the negro, because he works longer and harder for less allowance than the slave, and has no holiday, because the cares of life with him begin when its labors end. He has no liberty and not a single right. . . .   -George Fitzhugh, 1857

Lewiston Mill Regulations, 1867, and Rules of Plantation Management, 1853.

Use the documents contained in the link above to develop a 5-6 sentence answer for each question below.  Each answer requires direct quotes or examples from the documents to support it.  

  1. Compare and contrast the way time is organized on the plantation with the way time is organized in the factory.
  2. Describe a regular day in the life in both the factory and on the plantation.
  3. What do the rules as written miss about the experience of slaves and workers? 
  4. Do you agree with George Fitzhugh’s claim that slaves are better off than workers? Can we (and should we?) compare the lives of factory workers to those of the enslaved?
  5. How would you compare the factory and plantation rules to the rules of your school? – Take a look at your school handbook and cite specific examples to support your answer.
  6. Consider the real children’s book below, published in 2016 — given what you have learned here, what false impressions might it give children about the experience of slavery?

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From the publishers description: “Everyone is buzzing about the president’s birthday! Especially George Washington’s servants, who scurry around the kitchen preparing to make this the best celebration ever. Oh, how George Washington loves his cake! And, oh, how he depends on Hercules, his head chef, to make it for him. Hercules, a slave, takes great pride in baking the president’s cake. But this year there is one problem–they are out of sugar.

This story, told in the voice of Delia, Hercules’s young daughter, is based on real events, and underscores the loving exchange between a very determined father and his eager daughter, who are faced with an unspoken, bittersweet reality. No matter how delicious the president’s cake turns out to be, Delia and Papa will not taste the sweetness of freedom.

New York Times food writer Ramin Ganeshram and acclaimed illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton serve up a slice of history in a picture book narrative that will surely satisfy.”

Awards for “The Dubai Mall” Lesson at Openendedsocialstudies.org

The University of Arizona Center for Middle Eastern Studies has recognized the Openendedsocialstudies lesson The Dubai Mall, Sharia Law, and Social Norms as part of its annual lesson plan competition.  The lesson is adaptable for use in both middle school and high school classrooms, and uses the rules and code of conduct posted at this fabulous mall’s entrance to introduce students to norms of the Arab world.

How and why do social norms and laws in Muslim majority countries differ from those in countries like the United States?  Would students still want to visit greatest mall in the world if it meant following a different set of rules than they’re used to?

Check out our ever growing (and always free!) set of lessons, resources, and activities covering the Middle East.

 

The Dubai Mall, Sharia Law, and Social Norms: No Short-Shorts, No PDA

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