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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 141 [12-31-1862]

              127
                  Letter to the Tribune.

[photograph]
Col. T. B. Thorpe.

[photograph]
Lieut. Col. Strother.
  (Porte Crayon.)

[newspaper clipping continued]
titled to all the privileges of conserving, for a time
the cherished evil, out of which all our national
troubles have germinated.  Whether she is or is
not included in that act of tardy recognition of
God�s justice, to become to-morrow the law of the
land, I do not venture to decide, but here, in this
locality, I deem it my duty to place on record the 
fact of this impression as well as others, I am sorry
to say, tending to justify it.
  That Slavery exists in New-Orleans only by suf-
ferance, but virtual consent of the chattels who
choose to remain such, I am willing to believe.
Military law superseded civil on the advent of Gen.
Butler; and Judge Peabody, at present the presoni-
fication of the former in its resumed functions, is a
very unlikely person to exercise them on behalf of
slaveholders, in opposition to the clearly announced
legislation of our executive.  If a slave ran away
in this city, his ex-owner may coax, he cannot com-
pel him back.  Such is not, unfortunately, the case
in the country.
  I saw upon a sugar plantation within ten miles of
New-Orleans, but two days ago, a negro man, who,
attempting to escape, had been arrested and returned
to his owner by a United States soldier, placed as
sentinel upon an adjacent road, whether to fulfill
this peculiar duty or not, I have no means of
judging.
  The slave had dressed himself in his best clothes,
and armed himself with a razor, which he used, or
attempted to use, in defense of his liberty.  He was
punished by being set in the stocks and remanded
to servitude.  His owner, a man of Northern birth,
who has taken the oath, admitted that all the slaves
�had got it into their heads that they were going
to be free,� and spoke pityingly (but apprehensively)
of that hallucination.  Without wishing to reflect
on him for the exercise of what he considered a law-
ful right, I think that slave-catching by Union sol-
diers, whether in the interests of loyal or disloyal
men, is an intrinsically despicable business, that I 
hoped we had got rid of long ago�that reflects dis-
grace on the officer who permits or tolerates it.  If
I had ascertained his name I would subjoin it for
publication.
  On the same day another negro was pointed out to
me, on an adjoining plantation, who had been kept
lying on his back on the ground, with his feet in the
stocks, for weeks (so my informant, his fellow-slave,
persisted in affirming), until the production of hide-
ous sores on his legs incited a comrade to destroy
the instrument of torture with an ax, when the suf-
ferer was permitted to enjoy his crippled liberty.
His offense was running away and hiring himself
out to a Union officer, who never paid him for his
services.  He had been captured in New-Orleans.
  The owner of the first mentioned �boy� stated,
to my hearing, that the military authorities had sig-
nified their intention not to interfere with any rea-
sonable amount of necessary punishment inflicted on
slaves, instancing twenty-five lashes, �not break-
ing the skin,� as such.  �If that is not sufficient,
we give twenty-five more,� he added.
  Of course I do not allege that this sort of thing
exists by the consent of Gen. Banks, whom I have
always regarded as a self-respective man and a
brave soldier.  But it exists.  And I submit that it
does something toward justifying the insolence of
the Rebel Advocate, which might be wholesomely
suppressed as a caution to the not generally loyal
press of this city.			T. B. G.
		       �������               
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