Sunday, 19 October 2014

Federal Writers' Project

Charlie Moses (Ex-slave)
WPA Slave Narrative Project, Mississippi Narratives, Volume 9
Brookhaven, Mississippi

Charlie Moses, an 84 year old man from Brookhaven, Mississippi, was born into slavery in Marion county (also Mississippi) and from the earliest age he remembers was forced to work on a plantation for a man by the name of Jim Rankin, who Mr Moses calls "mean an' cruel". From this interview Mr Moses explains how his father was bought by Rankin as a young man in Mississippi, and his mother also bought by Rankin and brought over to Marion county from South Carolina in which she was forced to leave her family behind.

It's clear to anyone reading this interview that Jim Rankin was about as cruel a man as you could be, working his slaves to the limit of what was humanly possible and sometimes more, giving no regard to their lives as they were solely a property used for work and nothing else. Moses describes his lack of humanity in this statement, "the way us niggers were treated was awful. Marster would beat, knock, kick, kill. He done ever'thing he could 'cept eat us. We was worked to death. We worked all sunday, all day, all night. He whipped us 'til some jus' lay down to die". 

Although cruelty was all but a normality in the slavery of the south, this plantation owner seems to go above even the cruelty of most others, as if the barbaric treatment of his slaves gave him great pleasure and that this brutality was more to satisfy sadistic urges of this man rather than produce great results in the fields. Moses explains that it was not just the slaves who were afraid of this man, as "His family were as scared o' him as we was. They lived all their lives under his whip. No Sir! No Sir! There warnt no meaner man in the world than old man Jim Rankin". 

Reading this interview really showed just how evil and depraved some of these plantation and slave owners actually were, and after having looked at the idea of slaves being almost as "livestock", to see how this man treated other people he saw as equals, his own family no less, you can only imagine how he behaved around people he considered to be "sub-human". Moses tells of how they would regularly be shown as second favourite to Rankin's hounds, "We didn' git nothin' to eat then 'til we come home in the evenin'. After he left we'd pick up pieces of the grub the dogs left an' eat 'em. Hongry- Hongry, we was so Hongry!". It is these type of accounts that highlight the true status of these African Slaves, people on which the wrath of evil men like Rankin fell on a daily basis with no chance of escape or retribution, and really show that slavery was not a necessity in the building of America, but a way for violent white men to abuse and profit from these helpless human beings whilst under the protection of the law. 

No comments:

Post a Comment