December 30, 1860: Keziah Brevard on slavery

Keziah Brevard

From Keziah Brevard’s Diary, December 30, 1860:

Soon will 1860 be past — forever gone– What has been done in this year for man’s blessings! Whoever has not been working for good to others as well as themselves had as well not worked at all — I am sure I do not feel the extent of my own unworthiness. This is a sad morn — cold, wet & dark, nothing to cheer us but the fact that we have warm rooms — Yes we have a great deal to make us forget this dismal day without — God still protects us from our cut throat Abolitionists — I will not call them neighbours — they are the selfish & envious sons of Satan — not a grain of Christ’s charity in their whole body — Oh God do with them as thou thinkest they deserve. God is good & knows all our hearts, Oh how thankful I am to have an Omniscient Father. Is our convention safe? Is Charleston still protected from our enemies? I hope so & pray God will never suffer things otherwise. Sometimes I am ready & do often say I wish the Africans had never touched our soil — this is a hard wish — those who have come & have had kind masters have been blest — had they been left to this day on Afric’s sands their would have been one trouble after another for them — it is only in favoured spots now that they are safe from war & slavery in their own country.

The widow Brevard’s mixed feelings about slavery appear again here. She sometimes wishes we’d never enslaved Africans, although they were lucky we did, since this kept them from being enslaved in Africa. Wait, what?

Moore, p. 65

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2 Responses to December 30, 1860: Keziah Brevard on slavery

  1. Chris Moore says:

    It’s always interesting to me how people’s circumstances can color their convictions. Had this same Christian, Ms. Brevard lived in Massachusetts, say, I warrant she would have held quite different opinions. We constantly witness this same sort of “group think” today. Marketing theory comes to mind, like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or the structure of society into “trend setters”, “opinion makers”, “followers” and “contrarians”.

    That a “good” “God still protects us from our cut throat Abolitionists…” those “selfish & envious sons of Satan” without “a grain of Christ’s charity in their whole body” sounds so much like the pseudo-political discourse of our own day and time. “Death panels”, “evil Muslims”, “socialized medicine”, “terror threat”, “weapons of mass destruction”, “baby killers”, etc. It seems we’re prone to fall prey to simple platitudes if they are repeated often enough. “Cut throat abolitionists”? Those “Africans” “…who have come & have had kind masters have been blest”? (By that same “good” God who led them into bondage, I suppose.)

    They say there’s no accounting for taste. I guess, no accounting for human reasoning either.

    • Agathman says:

      We are all prone to group-think, I fear. Ms. Brevard was in part, of course, motivated by fear. She was a widow, managing several plantations, in a county where slaves probably outnumbered white masters. As for many in the south, the fear of insurrection was never far from her mind. And she also had to find a way to justify her own behavior, so demonizing the abolitionists and rhapsodizing about the joys of slavery were natural responses.

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