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The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton

Latest update – Saturday 27 September 2008.


Jean de Villiot, The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton : The Story of A Woman’s Part in The Struggle to Free The Slaves, An Account of the Whippings, Rapes, and Violences that Preceded the Civil War in America, With Curious Anthropological Observations on the Radical Diversities In the Conformation of the Female Bottom and the Way Different Women endure Chastisement, Ed. Charles Carrington, London, Paris, 1899.

  • An Account of the Whippings, Rapes, and Violences that Preceded the Civil War in America

    The Brave Men and Women of the «Underground Railway»

    The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton (Preface)

    par Jean de Villiot

    «The "underground railroad" was a network of farms and houses in which escaping slaves were given refuge as they moved northward. At each "station," the fugitive slave would be fed and sheltered, attended to medically when possible, and advised of the route to the next "station." Then he would be sent on his way, the precarious path having been made somewhat less thorny because of the benevolent care of the sympathizer who tended the "station." Professor Wilbur H. Siebert, in a work of great patience, has collected the names of about 3,200 Americans who were engaged in the good work of helping these poor creatures escape, and, in the roll of the world’s worthies, there can be few more honored names.
    To help a Negro escape from his master was, it must be remembered, a most perilous undertaking.» (Jean de Villiot, The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton).

  • An Account of the Whippings, Rapes, and Violences that Preceded the Civil War in America

    How I made the acquaintance of Dolly Morton

    The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton (Introduction)

    par Jean de Villiot

    «But, I said, from all the accounts one hears, it seems that the Negroes in the South were better off before the war as slaves than they are now as free people.
    - Oh, but they are free now, and that is the great point. No doubt things are bad at present, but they will improve in time.
    - I thought that, as a rule, the slaves were well-treated by their owners.
    - So they were in many cases, she replied, but there was no security for them; there was always the chance of their being sold to strange people; and then wives were separated from their husbands, and children from their parents. Besides, there were many owners who treated their slaves badly—working them hard, feeding them scantily and whipping them cruelly for the least offense. Then again, slaves had no rights of any sort. The girls and women, if light colored and pretty, were not allowed to be virtuous, even if they wished to be. They were obliged to give themselves up to the embraces of their masters, and, if a woman dared to object, she was severely whipped.
    - Oh, surely you must be mistaken, I observed. No, I am not. I know what I am talking about, for I lived in a slave state before the war, and I had special opportunities for finding out all about slavery and the distressing things connected with it.
    - Was it a common thing for women to be whipped? I asked.
    - Yes; I do not suppose that there was a single plantation in the whole of the South where the female slaves were not whipped. Of course, on some plantations there was more whipping than on others. And what made the thing more horrid was the fact that the whippings were always inflicted by men, and very often in the most public way.
    - On what part of the body were the slave women whipped; and what instruments of punishment were used? I inquired.
    - Sometimes they were whipped on the back, but most frequently on the bottom; the instruments used were various; there was the hickory switch, the strap and the paddle.
    - What is the paddle?
    - It is a round flat piece of wood fixed to a long handle, and it was always used on the bottom. It does not draw blood, but each stroke raises a blister on the skin and bruises the flesh. The hickory switch, if used with any degree of force, will cut the skin and draw blood. There was another terrible instrument of punishment called ’the cowhide,’ but it was very seldom used on women.
    - You seem to know all about whipping. Now tell me how it was you came to be living in a slave state, said I.
    - I was helping to run a station on the ’underground railroad’; but I suppose you don’t know what an ’underground station’ is.» (Jean de Villiot, The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton).

  • An Account of the Whippings, Rapes, and Violences that Preceded the Civil War in America

    A young girl’s humiliating experiences

    The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton (Chapter I)

    par Jean de Villiot

    «My name is Dolly Morton, I am just twenty-six years of age and I was born in Philadelphia, where my father was a clerk in a bank. I was his only child and my mother died when I was two years old, so I have no remembrance of her. My father’s salary was small, but he gave me as good an education as his means would allow, his intention being that I should gain my living as a school teacher.
    He was a silent, stern, reserved man, who perhaps may have been fond of me in his way: but he never showed any outward sign of affection, and he always kept me under strict discipline. Whenever I committed a fault, he would lay me across his knees, turn up my short petticoats, take down my drawers and spank me soundly with a broad piece of leather. I was a plump, soft, thin-skinned girl who felt pain acutely, and I used to shriek and kick up my heels and beg for mercy —which however, I never received, for he would calmly go on spanking me till my poor little bottom was as red as fire and I was hoarse with screaming. Then when the punishment was over and my trembling fingers had buttoned up my drawers, I would slink away with smarting bottom and streaming eyes ° our old servant who had been my nurse, and she would sympathize with me and comfort me till the smart of the spanking had passed off. » (Jean de Villiot, The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton).

  • An Account of the Whippings, Rapes, and Violences that Preceded the Civil War in America

    Redeeming the slave

    The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton (Chapter II)

    par Jean de Villiot

    «Because the girl was so weak and ill, we did not send her to the barn. Instead, as soon as she had finished her supper, I took her upstairs to the spare room, telling her to undress and go to bed. She looked bashfully at me, but after a moment’s hesitation took off her frock and petticoats. She wore no drawers, and I noticed immediately that the back of her chemise was plentifully stained with spots of dried blood. I knew what that meant! Going up to the girl, I raised her chemise and looked at her bottom. The whole surface was covered with livid weals, and the skin was cut in a great many places.
    I soon got her to tell me why she had been so severely whipped. It was the old story. She belonged to a planter, a married man with young children, who lived about twenty-five miles away. She was one of his wife’s maids. Her master had taken a fancy to her and had ordered her to be in his dressing room at a certain hour one evening. She was a virgin, and she disobeyed the order. Next day she was sent with a note to one of the overseers who took her to the shed used as a place of punishment. He then informed her that her master had sent her to be whipped for disobedience.
    She was stretched over the whipping block. Her wrists and ankles were held by two male slaves. Then the overseer laid bare her bottom and whipped her with a hickory switch till the blood trickled down her thighs. She then was allowed to go, being told that if she did not obey her master she would find herself on the whipping block again.
    But she was a plucky girl, and she determined not to surrender her maidenhead. So she ran away that night, sore and bleeding as she was, and made her way for twenty-five miles through the woods and byways until she reached our house. She had heard that we were kind to slaves, and she thought that we would hide her from her master.
    We did hide her, keeping her for a week. Then we sent her on to the next station along with a man who happened to arrive just at the right time. » (Jean de Villiot, The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton).

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