Chat with us, powered by LiveChat HIS 11 SMC Slave Rebellion and Confrontation Discussion - Uni Pal


Read the following excerpt from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin
involving a confrontation between Simon Legree and Tom, the slave.  Compare this fictional account with Douglass’s account of his confrontation with the overseer Covey in Chapter 10 of the Narrative.
What do these accounts tell us about slave rebellion, its perils, and its rewards?  Should we take these accounts as inspiration?  As isolated instances in a sea of pain?  
Compare the scale of these rebellions with the larger slave rebellions of Nat Turner and others.  How much was slavery a constant state of war between slaveowner and enslaved?Excerpt from Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Long after dusk, the whole weary train, with their baskets on their heads, defiled up to the
building appropriated to the storing and weighing the cotton. Legree was there, busily conversing
with the two drivers.
“Dat ar Tom’s gwine to make a powerful deal o’trouble; kept a puttin’ into Lucy’s basket.—One
o’these yer dat will get all der niggers to feelin’ ‘bused, if Mas’r don’t watch him!” said Sambo.
“Hey-dey! The black cuss!” said Legree. “He’ll have to get a breakin’ in, won’t he boys?”
Both negroes grinned a horrid grin at this intimation.
“Ay, ay! Let Mas’r Legree alone, for breakin in! De debil heself couldn’t beat Mas’r at that!” said
“Wal, boys the best way is to give him the flogging to do, till he gets over his notions. Break him
“It’ll have to come out of him, though!” said Legree, as he rolled his tobacco in his mouth.
“Now, dar’s Lucy,—de aggravatinest, ugliest wench on de place!” pursued Sambo.
“Take care, Sam; I shall begin to think what’s the resaon for your spit agin Lucy.”
“Well, Mas’r knows she sot herself up agin Mas’r and wouldn’t have me, when he telled her to.”
“Id a flogged her into ‘t,” said Legree, spitting, “only there’s such a press o’ work, it don’t seem
wuth a while to upset her jist now. She’s slender; but these yer slender gals with bear half killin’
to get their own way!”
“Wal, Lucy was real aggravatin’ and lazy, sulkin’ round; wouldn’t do nothin’,—and Tom he tuck
up for her.”
“He did eh! Wal, then, Tom shall have the pleasure of floggin her. It’ll be a good practice for
him, and he won’t put it on to the gal like you devils, neither.”
“Ho, ho! haw! haw! haw!” laughed both to the sooty wretches; and the diabolical sounds seemed,
in truth, a not unapt expression of the fiendish character which Legree gave them.
“Wal, but, Mas’r, Tom and Misse Cassy, and dey among ’em, filled Lucy’s basket. I ruther guess
der weight’s in it, Mas’r!”
“I do the weighing!” said Legree, emphatically.
Both the drivers laughed again their diabolical laugh.
“So!” he added, “Misse Cassy did her day’s work.”
“She picks like de debil and all his angels!”
She’s got ’em all in her, I believe!” said Legree; and growling a brutal oath, he proceeded to the
weighing room.
Slowly, the weary dispirited creatures wound their way into the room, and, with crouching
reluctance, presented their baskets to be weighed.
Legree noted on a slate, on the side of which was pasted a list of names, the amount.
Tom’s basket was weighed and approved; and he looked, with an anxious glance, for the success
of the woman he had befriended. Tottering with weakness, she came forward, and delivered her
basket. It was of full weight, as Legree well perceived; but, affecting anger, her said,—
“What, you lazy beast! short again! stand aside, you’ll catch it pretty soon!”
The woman gave a groan of utter despair, and sat sown on a board.
The person who had been called Misse Cassy now came forward, and, with a haughty, negligent
air, delivered her basket. As she delivered it, Legree looked in her eyes with a sneering yet
inquiring glance.
She fixed her black eyes steadily on him, her lips moved slightly, and she said something in
French. What it was, no one know, but Legree’s face became perfectly demoniacal in its
expression as she spoke; he half raised his hand as if to strike,—a gesture which she regarded
with fierce disdain, as she turned and walked away.
“And now: said Legree, “come here, you Tom. You see I telled ye I didn’t buy ye jest for the
common work; I mean to promote ye, and make a driver of ye; and tonight ye may jest as well
begin to get yer hand in. Now, ye jest take this yer gal and flog her; ye’ve seen enough on’t to
now how.”
“I beg Mas’r’s pardon,” said Tom; “hopes Mas’r won’t set me at that. It’s what I an’t used to,—
never did,—and can’t do, no way possible.”
“Ye’ll larn a pretty smart chance of things ye never did know, before I’ve done with ye!” said
Legree, taking up a cowhide and striking Tom a heavy blow across the cheek, and following up
the infliction by a shower of blows.
“There” he said, as he stopped to rest, “now will ye tell me ye can’t do it?”
“Yes Mas’r,: said Tom, putting up his hand to wipe the blood that trickled down his face. “I’m
willin’ to work night and day, and work while there’s life and breath in me; but this yer thing I
can’t feel it right to do; and, Mas’r I never shall do it,—never!” Tom had a remarkably smooth,
soft voice, and a habitually respectful manner that had given Legree an idea that he would be
cowardly, and easily subdued. When he spoke these last words, a thrill of amazement went
through everyone, the poor woman clasped her hands and said, “O Lord!” and everyone
involuntarily looked at each other and drew in their breath, as if to prepare for the storm that was
about to burst.
Legree looked stupefied and confounded, but at last burst forth,—
“What! Ye blasted black beast ! tell me ye don’t think it right to do what I tell ye! What have any
of you cussed cattle to do with thinking what’s right? I’ll put a stop to it! Why, what do ye think
ye are? May be ye think ye’re a gentleman, master Tom, to be a telling your master what’s right
and what an’t! So you pretend it’s wrong to flog the gal!”
“I think so, Mas’r,” said Tom, “the poor crittur’s sick and feeble; ‘t would be downright cruel, and
it’s what I never will do, nor begin to. Mas’r if you mean to kill me, kill me, but as to my raising
my hand agin anyone here, I never shall,—I’ll die first!”
Tom spoke in a mild voice but with a decision that could not be mistaken. Legree shook with
anger; his greenish eyes glared fiercely and his very whiskers seemed to curl with passion; but,
like some ferocious beast that plays with its victim before he devours it, he kept back his strong
impulse to proceed to immediate violence and broke out into bitter raillery.
“Well, here’s a pious dog, at last, let down among us sinners!—a saint, a gentleman, and no less,
to talk to us sinners about our sins! Powerful, holy crittur, he must be! Here, you rascal, you
make believe to be so pious,—didn’t you never hear out of yer Bible, ‘Servants, obey yer
masters’? An’t I yer master? Didn’t I pay down twelve hundred dollars, cash, for all there is inside
yer old cussed black shell? An’t yer mine, now body and soul?” he said, giving Tom a violent
kick with his heavy boot. “Tell me!”
In the very depth of physical suffering, bowed by brutal oppression, this question shot a gleam of
joy and triumph through Tom’s soul. He suddenly stretched himself up, and, looking earnestly to
heaven, while the tears and blood that flowed down his face mingled, he exclaimed—
“No! no! no! my soul an’t yours, Mas’r! You haven’t bought it,—ye can’t buy it. It’s been bought
and paid for by open that is able to keep it—no matter, no matter, you can’t harm me!”
“I can’t!” said Legree, with a sneer, “we’ll see,—we’ll see! Here Sambo, Quimbo, give this dog
such a breakin’ in as he won’t get over this month!”
The two gigantic negroes that now laid hold of Tom, with fiendish exultation in their faces,
might have formed no unapt personification of the powers of darkness. The poor woman
screamed with apprehension, and all rose, as by a general impulse, while they dragged him
unresisting from the place.
[From Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Or Life Among the Lowly (Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, 1886), pp. 396–99.]

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