« PreviousContinue »
the Indians. In 1779 he returned to Georgia, and was at the siege and fall of Savannah. He was with General Lincoln at Charleston, where he was made pris
He died in Savannah, in 1806. John Forsyth, an eminent statesmen, was born in Virginia, in 1780, and when about four years of age removed with his father to Augusta. He was educated at Princeton. He represented Georgia in both houses of congress, was governor of the state from 1827 to 1829, was minister to Spain from 1819 to 1822, and was secretary of state under President Jackson, and, also, through all of Mr. Van Buren's administration. He died in 1841. He was a man of superior abilities, and of dignified and elegant manners.
William Harris Crawford, a distinguished statesman, was born in Virginia, in 1772. His father removed to Georgia when he was nine years old. He was educated for the bar, and, from 1807 to 1813, was in the United States senate, when he was appointed minister to France, and, in 1815, secretary of war. From 1817 to 1824 he was secretary of the treasury, in which latter year he was the candidate of the democratic party for the presidency of the United States, but was defeated. He died in 1834, leaving a high reputation for ability.
Duncan L. Clinch, a gallant officer of the United States army, entered the service as lieutenant from North Carolina, in 1808. In 1829 he was breveted a brigadier-general, for ten years faithful service. He took a most distinguished part in the Seminole war. At the battle of Withlacoochee, on the last day of the year 1835, he, with 225 soldiers, in one hour, drove 700 determined and ferocious savages from their fastnesses, chastising them severely. In this action he showed the most persevering bravery, and was personally in the hottest of the fight. Resigning his commission, he was, from 1843 to 1845, representative in congress from this state. He died at Macon in 1849.
John McPherson Berrian, an eminent statesman, was born in New Jersey, in 1781, and removed, when a child, to Georgia. From 1824 to 1829 he was in the United States senate, when he took a seat as attorney-general in the cabinet of President Jackson. He was again in the United States senate from 1840 to 1845, where he officiated most of the time as chairman of the judiciary committee. He was, also, in the senate from 1847 to 1852. He died in 1856, universally lamented. He was considered one of the best and most distinguished and high-minded statesmen in the country.
“Although nineteen twentieths of all the rice raised in the United States is grown within a district of narrow limits, on the sea-coast of the Carolinas and Georgia, the crop forms a not unimportant item among the total productions of the country. The
crop of 1849 was supposed to be more than two hundred and fifteen million pounds, and the amount exported was equal, in value, to one third of all the wheat and flour, and to one sixth of all the vegetable food, of every kind, sent abroad.
The exportation of 1851 was exceeded in value, according to the Patent Office Report, only by that of cotton, flour and tobacco. Rice is raised in limited quantity in all of the southern states, and might be in some of the northern.
In Louisiana and the Mississippi valley, where the rice culture is at present very limited, there are millions of acres of now unproductive wilderness admirably adapted to its requirements, and here, it is a well known fact,' says a writer in De Bow's Review, that the rice plantations, both as regards whites and blacks, are more healthy than the sugar and cotton. The only restriction, therefore, upon the production of rice to a thousand fold greater extent than at present is the cost of labor in the southern states.
Rice continues to be cultivated extensively on the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas, notwithstanding the high price of labor which slavery and the demand for cotton has occasioned, only because there are unusual facilities there for forming plantations, in which, while the soil is exceedingly rich and easily tilled, and the climate favorable, the ground may be covered at will with water, until nearly all other
*This article is abridged from one in Harper's Magazine by T. Addison Richards, and from Olmsted's Seaboard Slave States.
plants are killed, so as to save much of the labor which would otherwise be necessary in the cultivation of the crop; and may as readily be drained, when the requirements of the rice itself make it desirable.
A large part of all the country next the coast, fifty miles or more in width, in North and South Carolina and Georgia, is occupied by flat cypress swamps and reedy marshes. That which is not so is sandy, sterile, and overgrown with pines and only of any value for agriculture where, at depressions of the surface, vegetable mold has been collected by the flow of rain water. The nearer we approach the sea the more does water predominate, till at length land appears only in islands or capes; this is the so-called Sea Island region. Below all, however, there stretches along the whole coast a low and narrow sand bar—a kind of defensive outwork of the land, seldom inhabited except by lost Indians and runaway negroes, who subsist by hunting and fishing. There are upon it several government relief .tations and light-houses, far less frequent, alas! than skeleton hulks of old ships, which, half buried-like victims of war-in the sand, give sad evidence of the fury of the sea, and of the firmness with which its onsets are received."
Rice is an aquatic plant, and in its general appearance is somewhat similar to wheat. Its culture and preparation for market are exceedingly interesting. It was at first cultivated, as it is at present in many kinds of the upland class, in spots of low ground, dependent for moisture only upon the chance rains of heaven. But at this day the legitimate soil and scene of its production is the rich loam of
the tide-water lands which lie along the coasts; low enough, level enough, and near enough to the sea to be overflowed at the pleasure of the planter by the Hood tides of the rivers, and yet far enough from the coast to be quite beyond the reach of the salt-water, which would be even more fatal to the crop than would the absence of the tidal flows.
Near the first of April it is sown in rows of about three feet apart, and by the first of June it becomes from six to eight inches high. The weeds are then taken out and tide-water admitted, by means of sluices, from some adjacent stream. The water is occasionally drawn off and a fresh supply introduced. When in blossom, the rice presents a most beautiful appearance, the flowers seeming to float on the surface of the water and perfuming the air with a most delicious fragrance.
In September, when the waving harvest rises considerably above the water, it exhibits a cu rious and very rich aspect. The rice harvest commences early in September. The water hai
ing been drawn off the field the HARVESTING RICE,
previous ebb-tide, the negroes
reap the rice with sickles. The rice is neatly stacked in round thatched stacks. After the ordinary threshing and cleaning from chaff, the rice still remains covered with a close, rough husk, which
can only be removed by a peculiar machine, that lightly pounds it so as to crack the husk without breaking the rice. Rice in the rough, that is, with the husk on, is termed "paddy,” an East Indian word. The usual crop is from thirty to sixty bushels an acre, and it sells in Charleston and Savannah in the rough from eighty cents to one dollar
bushel. During the malarious season it is dangerous for any but negroes to remain over night in the vicinity of the swamps or rice-fields. At this period even the overseers generally retreat at night to adjacent pine-lands away from the deadly influence. Segroes do not enjoy as good health as elsewhere; even those born on the soil are generally weakly and short-lived. *
Southern Cabint "We pass on now to a hasty peep at the special traits in the social life of the whites on the rice plantations. The characteristic, under this head, which will
* A late traveler in the south illustrates the fatality of night exposure in the low country of the rice plantations by the following anecdotes: "As to the degree of danger to others, 'I would as soon stand fifty feet from the best Kentucky riffeman and be shot at by the hour as to spend a night on my plantation in summer,' a Charleston gentleman said to me. And the following two instances of the deadly work it sometimes does were mentioned to me by another: A party of six ladies and gentlemen went out of town to spend a day at the mansion of a rice-planter, on an island. By an accidebt to their boat, their return before night was prevented, and they went back and shut themselves within the house, had fires made, around which they sat all night, and took every other precaution to guard against the miasma. Nevertheless, four of them died from its effects within a week, and the other two suffered severely. Two brothers owned a plantation, on which they had spent the winter. One of them, as summer approached, was careful to go to another residence every night; the other delayed to do so until it was too late. One morning he was found to be ill; a physician could not be procured until late in the afternoon, by which time his recovery was hopeless. The sick man besought his brother not to hazard his own life by remaining with him; and he was obliged, before the sun set, to take the last farewell, and leave him with the servants, in whose care, in the course of the night, he died."
t"In the better class of cabins the roof is usually built with a curve, so as to project eight or ten feet beyond the log wall; and a part of this space, exterior to the logs, is inclosed
first strike the stranger, and, for a while, most disagreeably, is, perhaps, the general disregard and disdain of order and comfort in the style and appointments of the residences even of the wealthiest of the people. He will wonder when he visits friends here whose accomplished manners and refined tastes have almost shamed the elegance of his lavishly adorned drawing-rooms at the North, to find them living in the humblest of wooden, perchance of log, houses, only half finished outside, and not at all within; often carpetless even in the parlors, and seldom with any other furniture to speak of; no trace of the rich curtains, the sumptuous sofas, the gorgeous picture frames, or of the thousand and one dainty household gods, so carefully gathered and treasured, and so great a part of the pleasure of his own home. He may be disposed at first to set this peculiarity down to the indolence and carelessness, or to the improvidence of the people, and perhaps some of it may go that way; but by-and-by he will more truly account
for it by the nature and circumstances of the case. As he begins to feel at home, to discover the new pleasures at his command, and to fall into the way and spirit with boards, making an additional small room ; the remainder forms an open porch. The whole cabin is often elevated on four corner-posts, two or three feet from the ground, so that the air may circulate under it. The fire-place is built at the end of the house, of sticks and clay, and the chimney is carried up outside, and often detached from the log-walls; but the roof is extended at the gable, until in a line with its outer side. The porch has a railing in front, and a wide shelf at the end, on which a bucket of water, a gourd and hand-basin are usually placed. There are chairs, or benches, in the porch, and you often see women sitting at work in it, as in Germany. The logs are usually hewn but little; and, of course, as they are laid up, there will be wide interstices between them, which are increased by subsequent shrinking. These very commonly are not "chinked," or filled up in any way, nor is the wall lined on the inside. Through the chinks, as you pass along the road, you may often see all that is going on in the house, and at night the light of the fire shines brightly out on all sides. Cabins of this class are almost always flanked by two or three negro huts. The cabins of the poorest class of whites are mere pens of logs, roofed over, provided with a chimney, and usually with a shed of boards, supported by rough posts, before the door.”
of the life around him, he will feel that the wants of one social condition and climate may not be the wants of another, and very opposite one; that on the rice plantations the people "live out of doors;" that their very houses, ever wide open, are themselves "out of doors;" and consequently, but little more cared for than are the self-caring lawns and woods around them.
It would seem, and so indeed it is, as a rule, that the southern gentleman, even the most assiduous in business, labors only for occupation, his daily toil being his welcome pleasure. He never buries the man in the business, but makes of his business itself his social enjoyment and his true life. Thus, whatever may be his engagements, he seems never to have anything to do but to amuse himself and his family and the stranger within his gates.
The social season on the plantation is that of the winter and spring months only, from November, or the time of early frost, to the beginning of June. During the interval all the whites are away, excepting, may be, the overseer, who stays at his peril. We are speaking thus of the swamp lands only, not of the whole region, for the rice-fields are surrounded often by belts or ridges of high sandy ground, corered with a close growth of pine, sanitary oases and safety-valves, exempt in a great degree from the dreaded malaria of the richer soils. These sandy terraces and pine barrens are places of refuge, in the hot season, to those whose convenience or pleasure does not lead them to the cities or to the Northern States. They are, besides, the pleasant, permanent abode, summer and winter, of a considerable population.
The gay season begins at Christmas, which is celebrated hereabouts with much of the old poetic interest, culminates in February, and by the end of March is over and gone. After it, in April and May, come the most attractive out-of-door days, when all nature is decked in the full, fresh drapery of summer—the greenest of leaves and the brightest of flowers. Loving and accustomed to equestrian exercise, the ladies have enough of pleasant and profitable out-door life; while their large households furnish ample employment, even without the generally great cares of hospitality. It is much the custom, at least on the smaller plantations, for the mistress to charge herself with the labors and responsibility of supplying the wants of the blacks as well as the whites of the family, providing them with their rations of food and their stock of clothing, and ministering to them in hours of sickness; so that, on the whole, one way or another, black and white together, a Southern matron has no necessity, and but little opportunity, to be an idle woman.
The gentlemen are equally well provided with occupation in the care of their plantations, the entertainment of their guests, and with studies in the library and sports in the field. The swamps are full of deer, which beguile them to the chase, and the peopled waters tempt them to wander forth with hook and line.
The planter's mansion is not an edifice of extraordinary architectural pretension, even in its best estate. The superior houses are usually two-story frame buildings, with piazzas double in front and single in the rear, the outer parts of the latter often inclosed so as to form small store or sleeping apartments. These are called shed-rooms, and are very comfortable quarters. The chimneys are always built outside of the walls, and slightly detached therefrom. The whole house is elevated above the ground from six to eight feet, or even more, upon log or brick supports, thus usefully avoiding dampness, aiding ventilation, and providing a cozy retreat oftentimes for dogs, cats, pigs, chickens, and rubbish generally. The kitchen is, in all cases, a separate building, but is occasionally connected with the main edi. fice by a covered passage. The houses are painted and furnished with outside blinds, and are plastered or ceiled, or not, as it happens. In spring, when musquitoes congregate, bright fires, one on each side of the gate, are made of the resinous pine or "light wood,” to lure them from the piazzas, where the household is gathered. These fires are built on brick posts, or upon elevated wooden trays corered with earth. They give a cheerful air to the wooded surroundings, and serre to say if distant neighbors are at home or not.”
The following are extracts from the minutes of the trustees of the colony of Georgia, and published, with many others, in White's Hist. Collections of Georgia: