|Date(s):||January 1, 1837|
|Location(s):||Georgia | South Carolina | Washington D.C | Calvert County, MD | Philadelphia P.A|
|Tag(s):||Paternalism, Slavery, Separation|
|Course:||“The United States: A Nation Divided, 1836-1876,” Wheaton College|
|Rating:||5 (2 votes)|
Charles Ball was born in Calvert County, Maryland and was a slave for the biggest part of his life. His narrative starts with telling the reader about his early childhood life and the hardships of staying a family. He stresses to the reader that though many claimed the evils of slavery were getting easier during the times when laws protecting slaves started to come about, but it was in fact the other way around. The masters of the slaves came down harder and the separation from one’s family was more common. He tells the story of how he was taken from his mother and the whipping that she received just for holding him one last time. Ball also speaks to how his father was changed by his enslavement and how his father’s temperament became moodier the older he got. The next section of the narrative tells of his time in the navy yard as a hired out slave and how he met his first wife during that time. Ball shows the hardships that come from being married as slaves because of the fact one changed masters so frequently that staying together becomes impossible. Ball goes on to describe his time when he was sold to a slave trader from Georgia and having to walk all the way to his new plantation in South Carolina cuffed to 51 other slaves. Then, when he arrived he was sold to a cotton plantation where he describes the unfair treatment the slaves received. He compares his experiences from Maryland to that of Georgia and finds Georgia lacking. Ball found Georgia to treat their slaves as not even human beings where Maryland treated their slaves with a sense of pride. It was because of the cruelty that he discovered in Georgia that he decided to escape from slavery and walked back to Maryland to return to his wife and children there. Once there he hired himself out for wages and managed to escape the notice of the government for a long enough time to buy a farm. However, his wife died in 1816 and he remarried two years later. His new life was a very dangerous one and it was not long that he was once again recaptured and returned to slavery. While he was enslaved once again, his family was captured and sold into slavery also. He ends with his escape from slavery once again and his fleeing to Pennsylvania to avoid capture again and with the hopelessness of never seeing his family and children again (Ball).
This narrative gave credence to two other authors who wrote about slavery by using many different examples of slaves, slave holders, and slave traders. One of those authors was Walter Johnson who wrote the novel Soul by Soul and in it he describes the issue of paternalism. Johnson states that “paternalism, then, was something slaveholders could buy in the slave market” (Johnson 111). For instance, when a slave was traded from master to master he or she would beg his or her old master to allow him or her to stay. It was this begging and this need to be with their old masters that gave way to the feelings of paternalism. Paternalism was a dangerous road for the slave trade to travel on because it enabled the trade to stay alive that much longer. It was this excuse of having feelings of paternalism that helped the slaveholders and the slave traders get the overall public to see the worth that slavery has, by degrading those that were enslaved they enabled the country to try and rationalize something that was irrational. Further, the narrative also shows how the slaveholders effected the process. Ball’s description of some of his holders and some of his tasks he did for these holders revealed how the relationship that the holder had with his slaves truly was an intricate one. For the slaveholders controlling these slaves and having these slaves was a point of pride. Ball describes instances where he said the slaves had to look good because it would have been seen as a very bad thing for the master to mistreat his slaves.