"HER INVENTION WAS WONDERFULLY QUICK"
As a slave child in Kentucky, Lewis Clarke was frequently whipped by his
mistress. Here, he describes the implements she used to punish him.
[My mistress's] instruments of torture were ordinarily the raw hide, or a
bunch of hickory-
seasoned in the fire and tied together. But if these were not at hand,
nothing came amiss. She could relish a beating with a chair, the broom,
tongs, shovel, shears, knife-
the heavy heel of her slipper, or a bunch of keys; her zeal was so active in
these barbarous inflictions, that her invention was wonderfully quick, and
some way of inflicting the requisite torture was soon found.
One instrument of torture is worthy of particular description. This was
an oak club, a foot and a half in length, and an inch and a half square. With
this delicate weapon she would beat us upon the hands and upon the feet until
they were blistered. This instrument was carefully preserved for a period of
four years. Every day, for that time, I was compelled to see that hated tool
of cruelty lying in the chair by my side. The least degree of delinquency,
either in not doing all the appointed work, or in look or behavior, was
visited with a beating from this oak club. That club will always be a
prominent object in the picture of horrors of my life of more than twenty
years of bitter bondage....
Mrs. Banton, as is common among slave-
women, seemed to hate and abuse me all the more, because I had some of the
blood of her father in my veins. There are no slaves that are so badly
abused, as those that are related to some of the women, or the children of
their own husband; it seems as though they never could hate these quite bad
Source: Interesting Memoirs and Documents Relating to American Slavery, and
the Glorious Struggle Now Making for Complete Emancipation (London, 1846).