Saturday, May 14, 2016

Frederick Douglass -- Colonel Lloyd's Cruelty
 
We have seen Frederick Douglass’s descriptions of the character and behavior of Captain Anthony and the various overseers that worked under his authority.  Here Douglass writes of the viciousness of Colonel Lloyd, behavior all too common among large plantation slave masters.
 
To describe the wealth of Colonel Lloyd would be almost equal to describing the riches of Job.  He kept from ten to fifteen house-servants.  He was said to own a thousand slaves.    Colonel Lloyd owned so many that he did not know them when he saw them, nor did all the slaves of the out-farms know him.  It is reported of him, that, while riding along the road one day, he met a colored man, and addressed him in the usual manner of speaking to colored people on the public highways of the south: “Well, boy, whom do you belong to?”  “To Colonel Lloyd,” replied the slave.  “Well, does the colonel treat you well?’” “No, sir,” was the ready reply.  “What, does he work you too hard?”  “Yes, sir.”  “Well, don’t he give you enough to eat?”  “Yes, sir, he give me enough, such as it is.”
 
The colonel, after ascertaining where the slave belonged, rode on; the man also went on about his business, not dreaming that he had been conversing with his master.  He thought, said, and heard nothing more of the matter, until two or three weeks afterwards.  The poor man was then informed by his overseer that, for having found fault with his master, he was now to be sold to a Georgia trader.  He was immediately chained and handcuffed; and thus, without a moment’s warning, he was snatched away, and forever sundered, from his family and friends, by a hand more unrelenting than death.  This is the penalty of telling the truth, of telling the simple truth, in answer to a series of plain questions (Douglass 35-36).
 
Colonel Lloyd’s garden was not the least source of trouble on the plantation.  Its excellent fruit was quite a temptation to the hungry swarms of boys, as well as the other slaves, belonging to the colonel, few of whom had the virtue or the vice to resist it.  [Grown also were tender asparagus, crispy lettuce, delicate cauliflower, eggplants, beets, parsnips, peas, French beans, figs, raisins, and almonds]  Scarcely a day passed, during the summer, but that some slave had to take the lash for stealing fruit.  The colonel had to resort to all kinds of strategems to keep his slaves out of the garden.  The last and most successful one was that of tarring his fence all around, after which, if a slave was caught with any tar upon his person, it was deemed sufficient proof that he had either been into the garden, or had tried to get in.  In either case, he was severely whipped by the chief gardener.  This plan worked well; the slaves because as fearful of tar as of the lash (Douglass 33).
 
The colonel also kept a splendid riding equipage.  His stable and carriage-house presented the appearance of some of our large city livery establishments.  His horses were of the finest form and noblest blood. 
 
This establishment was under the care of two slaves-old Barney and young Barney-father and son.  To attend to this establishment was their sole work.  But it was by no means an easy employment; for in nothing was Colonel Lloyd more particular than in the management of his horses.  The slightest inattention to these was unpardonable …; no excuse could shield them [the father and son], if the colonel only suspected any want of attention to his horses … They never knew when they were safe from punishment.  They were frequently whipped when least deserving … Every thing depended upon the looks of the horses, and the state of Colonel Lloyd’s own mind when his horses were brought to him for use.  If a horse did not move fast enough, or hold his head high enough, it was owing to some fault of his keepers.  It was painful to stand near the stable-door, and hear the various complaints … “This horse has not had proper attention.  He has not been sufficiently rubbed and curried, or he has not been properly fed; his food was too wet or too dry; he got it too soon or too late; he was too hot or too cold; he had too much hay, and not enough grain; or he had too much grain, and not enough of hay; instead of old Barney’s attending to the horse, he had very improperly left it to his son.”  To all these complaints, no matter how unjust, the slave must answer never a word.  Colonel Lloyd could not brook any contradiction for a slave.  I have seen Colonel Lloyd make old Barney, a man between fifty and sixty years of age, uncover his bald head, kneel down upon the cold, damp ground, and receive his naked and toil-worn shoulders more than thirty lashes at the time (Douglass 33-35].
 
 
Work Cited:
 
Douglass, Frederick.  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.  New York, Penguin Books USA inc., 1968.  Print.