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Slaves at Worship on a Plantation in South Carolina

The Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1234, p. 574.

December 5, 1863


Linked with our Special Artist's Illustrations of the War in America is one, from another source, of an entirely different aspect (see page 561), in which the owner of a cotton plantation, South Carolina, is, with his wife and children, engaged in Divine worship, surrounded by his slaves, in a state of almost patriarchal simplicity. In the character of the negro as developed in the Slave States of America the two most marked features are his capacity for strong attachment and fidelity to his master when kindly treated and his surceptibility [sic] to religious influences. This latter quality is carried in many cases into the region of fanaticism; but a deep, simple, and fervent piety characterises a large portion of the slave population, especially those advanced in years.

The Illustration bearing the above title is from a sketch made in a rude chapel erected for the slaves on a cotton plantation near Port Royal (South Carolina), now in the possession of the Federal forces. The "incumbent" was an intelligent old house servant, a slave. He could read, but not write; and his extempore sermons, although sometimes marred by his predilection for high-sounding phrases and long words (not always appropriate), were characterised by strong good sense and a certain rude native eloquence, often rising to the dignity of pathos, and admirably adapted to the comprehension and temperament of his audience. The Methodist persuasion is the one which finds most favour among the slaves in the Southern as well as among the free negroes in the Northern States.

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