How to buy the book

You can order at History Press as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other on-line retailers. I will send you a signed copy for $23, a little extra to cover shipping. I will send you both Slave Labor in the Capital and Through a Fiery Trial for $40. Send a check to me at PO Box 63, Wellesley Island, NY 13640-0063.

My lectures at Sotterley Plantation in St. Mary's County, Maryland, on September 23, 2015, and the DAR Library on December 5 are now blog posts below listed under book talks. The talk I gave
at the Politics and Prose Bookstore on February 28, 2015, along with Heather Butts, author African American Medicine in Washington, was taped by the bookstore. Take a listen.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Overseer Smallwood complains about meals

 "salt meat for brexfast, dinner and supper..." 

Quote from Slave Labor in the Capital page 133 referring to the March 7, 1797, letter from Samuel Smallwood to the Commissioners:

Commissioners of the City of Washington, Gentlemen,
In Consideration of my past Services and present ------, I take the Liberty of presenting you a few Lines to give you and Information of my Dissatisfaction for the same in the first instant relating to my Diet which are nothing more than Salt meat for Brexfast Dinner and Supper which is neither palitabel nor Constitutional and to bye tea Sugar and other Vegitables out of Fifteen Dollars you must reasonably suppose Gentlemen will reduce that to a mear nothing and Fifteen Dollars Gentlemen suppose it to be in truly Clear is not an Object to Induce a man to take on him Self the Cares troubles and Confindments that I have on me which Causes me to take the liberty of Informing the Hon Board that I am not therewith Content which I am willing to Still remain for twenty Dollars per month which I hope Gentlemen you will allow me I hope Gentlemen you will receive the above as a most respectful Detail of matter hear with me and give it your most sincere Consideration and Dispense to me as soon as Justice to the Publick and Satisfaction to your most Obt. Sert. Saml N Smallwood March 7, 1797

One advantage to putting source documents on line is I get to read them again. I realize now that I misquoted Smallwood. He wrote "brexfast" not "breakfast."

In the book, I use this letter to establish that white laborers and overseers got the same rations as the slaves. The letter also shows that Smallwood had only a basic education. In another letter he complains about the time it takes him to keep the payroll for laborers in order. That suggests to me that when he complains of his "cears, troubels and confindments", he was not complaining about the difficulty of getting the laborers to work, but how difficult it was for him to keep accounts of their labor. He had four different categories of laborers to manage: slaves hired by the year, slaves hired by the month, and free laborers hired by the year and month.

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