Friday, December 18, 2015

Plantation Life - Duties and Responsibilites (Slave Shelter)

Browsing through an 1860 issue of DeBow's Review I came across an article titled "Plantation Life - Duties and Responsibilities." Among the many topics it covers are food, clothing, and shelter for slaves. Of course, I found the discussion on shelter particularly interesting.

As far as slave housing the author explained: "A glance at the servants' quarter, in town or country, will leave no one in doubt why, when pestilence prevails, it is so fatal to this population; the wonder only is, that they do not oftener suffer pestilence: fortunately, not much of their time is passed in these pent-up and noisome abodes. A large proportion of human diseases is bred in human habitations. When vegetable matter, heat, and moisture combine, there must be present febrile miasma. Bearing this in view, if many masters would survey their servants' cabins, they would immediately go to work, pulling down the old and putting up new ones. It would be a saving in the end. It would soon be saved out of doctor's bills and sick-list. When cholera rages, whitewash is brought into requisition and sanitary regulations established. Why cease to enforce them when the panic subsides? These same causes, of easy prevention, do always, more or less, work sickness and death."

He continued a little later: "After all, one thing still is to be looked to: no house, of what dimensions soever, can be comfortable if crowded. Morality is very directly involved here. The mingling of sexes, or the throwing of aliens and strangers together, in the same house, without reference to the natural grouping of families, is fatal to most domestic virtues."

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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