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

The humiliation of our persons and the ravishment of my virgin state

The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton (Chapter IV)


All the versions of this article:

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.

The results of my resistance; the inutility of goodness; an unwelcome visit, which leads to the humiliation of our persons and the ravishment of my virgin state.

As soon as he was out of sight, I twisted up my hair and arranged the disorder of my attire as much as was possible; then I hurried home, and fortunately got up to my room without being seen by either Miss Dean or Martha.

Locking the door, I undressed, for my clothes were in a dreadful state; my frock, a white one, was torn at the gathers nearly all the way round, and the back was stained green; the strings of my petticoats were broken, my chemise was torn and my drawers were hanging in ribbons about my legs; my thighs were covered with black marks made by the pressure of the man’s fingers, and I was sore and bruised all over.

After I had put on clean things I threw myself on the bed, buried my face in the pillow and cried. But my tears now were angry ones, for the keenness of my shame had somewhat worn off.

I was enraged at my foolishness in having trusted myself alone with Randolph, for whom I had a feeling of distrust ever since he had expressed to me his low opinion of the virtue of women. I also felt degraded in my own estimation that he should have taken for granted that I was the sort of girl who would give herself up to a man for the asking. I am sure that I had never given him the least encouragement.

Then I remembered that he had said that I would be sorry for not accepting his offer. I had made an enemy of him, so most probably he would give information about us to the police.

It was not pleasant to think of. I felt that I ought to let Miss Dean know that we had been found out, but, had I done so, I should have been obliged to enter into all the details of my affair with Randolph. And I could not bear to tell her of the outrage which I had been subjected to. Altogether, through my imprudence, we were in a dreadful fix, and there was nothing to be done but wait miserably for the end, which would be in the jail. (Already in my mind I pictured Miss Dean and myself clad in coarse prison garments, and with our hair cropped short, toiling at some hard labor.)

Presently Martha knocked at the door to tell me that tea was ready; so I had to pull myself together and go down to the parlor. I could not eat much, and Miss Dean noticed at once my want of appetite; she also saw that my face was pale and my eyes red, and she asked me what was the matter.

I told her that I had a bad headache, which was the truth. On hearing that, the kind-hearted woman made me lie on the sofa while she bathed my forehead with eau de Cologne. Then she recommended that I go to bed, so that I might have a long night’s rest and sleep off the headache.

But I did not sleep well. My rest was broken by a succession of horrid dreams in which I fancied that I was struggling in the arms of a man with an enormous member, who always succeeded in overcoming my resistance and taking my maidenhead. In the morning, while dressing, I wondered where we should be in twenty-four hours’ time, for I fully expected that Miss Dean and I would be arrested before the night came.

The day wore slowly away. I was uneasy and restless, I could not settle down to my usual routine of work. I was constantly peeping out of the window watching for the arrival of the police.

They did not come. But, at nine o’clock, a runaway made his appearance in a starving condition, and, in attending to the poor creature’s wants, I forgot for the time, my own precarious position.

Several days went by quietly and I began to think that Randolph after all was not going to be so mean as to inform on us. But all the same I was very anxious to get out of the state of Virginia, so I said to Miss Dean that I thought we had now done our share of the work and that we ought to go back to Philadelphia. Miss Dean however would not hear of such a thing. She said we were doing good work and that we must go on with it, for some time longer at any rate.

Another fortnight passed, during which period three fugitives had arrived, two men and a woman, all of whom we had sent on to the next station without, as far as I knew, exciting any suspicion, and, since nothing had occurred to alarm me, my spirits rose and I became quite myself again.

I had not seen Randolph since the day he had assaulted me, but I often had thought of the shameful affair, the recollection of it always sending the blood in a hot flood to my cheeks. I had a hatred for the man and hoped that I should never again set eyes on him.

But, alas! I was fated to see him before long, under the most painful circumstances. One afternoon, about five o’clock, we were sitting in the veranda at the front of the house. Miss Dean, looking very sweet and pretty in a dove-colored dress, was as usual usefully employed in making shirts for the runaways, while I was engaged in trimming a hat for myself. Martha was in the kitchen washing up plates and dishes, for we had just finished tea.

I was in good spirits, and as I worked I sang to myself in a low voice a plantation song I had learned from the Negroes, called «Carry Me Back To Ole Virginny.» It was strange that I should have been singing that particular song, for I was very anxious to get away from «Ole Virginny» and had I been out of that state I certainly would not have asked anyone to carry me back to it.

Presently the stillness of the evening was broken by the clatter of horses’ hoofs mingled with the sound of loud voices in the distance, and, on looking down the lane, I saw a number of men, some of them mounted, some on foot, coming towards the house. Miss Dean and I gazed at them as they came along, and we wondered where they were all going; people very rarely entered our secluded lane.

To our surprise, the party stopped at the house, the men on horseback dismounting and hitching their horses to the fence. Then the whole crowd came into the veranda and gathered round us as we sat, in silent astonishment, on our chairs. I noticed however, that there was a hard stern look on the face of every man, while some of them scowled at us with angry glances.

There were fifteen men, all of whom were quite unknown to me, even by sight. Most of them were bearded, rough looking fellows, dressed in coarse cotton shirts of various colors, with their trousers tucked into boots reaching to the knees, and wearing slouch hats on their heads. But there were some men better dressed, and evidently of a higher class.

My heart began to flutter, and a vague foreboding of evil came over me, for, though I had not the least suspicion of what the men’s intentions were, I guessed from their looks that they had not come to pay us a friendly visit.

One of the intruders, a man about forty years of age, who was addressed by the others as Jake Stevens and who appeared to be the leader of the band, stepped forward, and laying his hand on Miss Dean’s shoulder, at the same time looking at me, said sternly: «Stand up you two, I’ve got sumthin’ to say to you.»

We both rose to our feet, and Miss Dean asked in a quiet tone: «Why have you and your companions invaded my house in this rough manner?»

The man laughed scornfully, saying, «Well, I should say you orter pretty well guess what’s brought us here. You ain’t so innocent as you look, by a long chalk.» Then, with an oath, he went on: «It has come to the knowledge of the white folks in these parts that you are keeping an ’underground station.’ Since you have been here you have got away a great many slaves. Now I jest tell you that we Southerners don’t allow no derned Northern abolitionists to run off our slaves. When we ketches abolitionists we makes it hot for them, and now that we’ve ketched you and your assistant, we are going to bring you before Judge Lynch’s court. The boys who have come here with me are the gentlemen of the jury. Isn’t that the right talk boys?» he said to the men round him.

«Yes, yes, Jake. That’s the talk. You’ve put it the right way,» shouted several voices.

I sank down on my chair, horribly frightened. I had heard dreadful stories of the cruelties perpetrated under the name of «Lynch.»

Miss Dean again spoke calmly: «If you have found out that we have broken the law of the State, why have you not informed the police? You have no right to take the law into your own hands.»

There was an angry movement among the men, and a hubbub of voices rose. «We’ve got the right to do as we please.» «Lynch Law is good enough for the likes of you.» «Shut your mouth.» «Don’t waste any more time talking to her, Jake. Let’s get to business,» was shouted.

«All right boys,» said Stevens, «well go into the garden right away and settle what shall be done with the prisoners. We know they’re guilty, so we’ve only got to sentence them, and then well proceed to carry out the sentence of the court.»

Miss Dean and I were left on the veranda while the men, all trooping out into the garden, gathered in a cluster and began to talk; but they were too far off for us to hear what was being said.

I sat huddled up in my chair, with a dreadful sinking at my heart. «Oh Miss Dean,» I wailed, «what will they do to us?»

«I do not know dear,» she replied, coming over to me and taking my hand. «I am not very much concerned about myself, but, oh, my poor girl, I am so sorry for you. I never should have allowed you to come here.»

Too miserable to say another word, I sat pale and silent. The men continued talking together, and there seemed to be differences of opinion among them, but I could not catch a word that was said. The suspense to me was dreadful, my mouth was parched and I turned alternately hot and cold. But Miss Dean, who still held my hand, occasionally pressing it, was quite calm.

At last the men seemed to have agreed, and they all returned to the veranda. Then Stevens, assuming a sort of judicial manner, addressed us, saying: «The sentence of the court upon you two is that you are each to receive a whipping with a hickory switch on the bare bottom, then you are both to be made to ride a rail for two hours, and, further, you are warned to leave the state of Virginny within forty-eight hours. If at the end of that time you are found in the State, Judge Lynch will have something more to say to you.»

When I heard the shameful and cruel sentence which the lynchers had passed upon us, my blood ran cold and I trembled all over. There was a singing in my ears, and a mist came before my eyes. I rose from my seat, my legs shaking under me so much that I had to hold the back of my chair to support myself.

«Oh, you surely don’t mean to whip us!» I exclaimed in piteous accents, stretching out my arms appealingly to the men. «Oh, don’t put us to such awful shame and pain. Have pity on us. Oh, do have pity on us.»

But there was not the least sign of pity on any of the faces surrounding us. Ah were stern, or frowning, or stolid. And one man called out: «Serves you right, you darned little abolitionist. You both ought to be stripped naked and tarred and feathered after the whipping and then perched on the rail. You would look like a queer brace of birds.»

At this coarse joke, there was a burst of laughter from the other men and I again sank down on my chair wringing my hands in despair while the tears streamed down my white cheeks. Miss Dean, however, faced the men boldly. She turned very pale, but her eyes were bright and she showed no signs of fear. Addressing the leader, she said without a tremor in her voice: «I have often been told that the Southerners were chivalrous in their treatment of women, but I find that I have been misinformed. Chivalrous men do not whip women.»

«I don’t know nothing about chivalrous,» said Stevens gruffly, «but when women acts like men and sets to running an ’underground station’ they must take the consequences.»

The men in various terms, garnished with oaths, expressed their approval of what their leader had said.

Miss Dean calmly continued: «I wish you all to know that I am the only person in this house responsible for what has been done. The young lady is not to blame in any way. She is my paid companion and has acted entirely under my orders. You must let her go free.»

«Oh no we won’t,» exclaimed several voices at once. «She must have her share of the switch.»

«Let me do the talking,» said Stevens. «We know very well, Miss Dean, that you are the boss of this yer show, but the girl has been helpin’ you to run it, so she’s got to be whipped. But she won’t git such a smart touchin’ up as you will. Isn’t that right boys?» he asked.

«Yes.» «Yes.» «That’s all right,» some of them answered. «Let the gal off a bit easier than the woman.» Just then one of the men called out: «Whar’s the hired woman? She ought to have her bottom switched, and get a ride on the rail as well as the others.»

«Certainly she ought,» said Stevens. «A couple of you go and bring her here. I guess she’s hiding somewhere in the house.» Two of the men went into the house and while they were away the others talked and laughed with each other, making ribald remarks that caused me to blush and shiver. But Miss Dean did not appear to hear what was being said. She stood quite still, her hands loosely clasped in front of her and a far-off look in her great, soft, brown eyes.

In about five minutes’ time, the two men returned and one of them said with an oath: «We can’t find the bitch anywhere in the house, though we have looked well. She must have run off into the woods.»

«It’s a pity she’s got away,» said Stevens, «but anyhow we’ve got the two leading ladies of the show, and I guess we’ll make them both feel sorry that they ever took a hand in the game.»

«You bet we will, Jake,» shouted the men. «We’ll make them sorry they ever came to Virginny. Let’s get to work at once.»

«Very well,» said Stevens. «Bill, you run to the barn and fetch the ladder you’ll find there. Pete and Sam, you go and cut a couple of good, long, springy hick’ry switches and trim them ready for me to use.» Then he added with a laugh: «I daresay these yere northern ladies have often eaten hick’ry nuts, but I reckon they never thought they would feel a hick’ry switch on their bare bottoms.» The men all joined in the laugh, while I shuddered and my heart swelled with bitterness at our utter helplessness.

The ladder and the switches were brought, then all the men went into the garden. The ladder then was fixed in a sloping position against the rail of the veranda on the outside, and Stevens took up his position near it, holding one of the switches in his hand, while the other men stood round in a ring so that they might all have a good look at what was going to be done.

«Bring out the prisoners,» said Stevens. Some of the men took hold of us by the arms and led us out of the veranda to receive the cruel and indecent punishment. I was trembling and crying; but Miss Dean was calm and silent.

Stevens said to her: «Since you’re the boss, you shall be whipped first. Tie her up, boys.»

She immediately was seized by two men and laid upon the ladder. Her arms were stretched out to their full extent above her head and her wrists were tied with thick cords to the rungs of the ladder. Her ankles were securely fastened the same way. She had not shown the least resistance nor had she uttered a word while being tied up, but now she turned her head and looking over her shoulder at Stevens said: «Can you not whip me without removing my clothes?»

«No, certainly not,» he replied. «You was sentenced to be whipped on the bare bottom. Turn up her clothes, boys.»

Her skirt, petticoats and chemise were rolled high above her waist and tucked under her body so that they could not fall down. She had not on the ordinary drawers with a slit behind, such as are usually worn by women, but was wearing long pantelettes which were buttoned up all round, fitting rather closely to her legs and reaching down to her ankles, around which the little frills at the end of the garment were drawn in with narrow ribbons.

«Why darn me, if she ain’t got on white trousers!» ejaculated Stevens in a tone of astonishment. «I never seen such things on a woman before.»

The other men also seemed surprised and very much amused at the sight of the trousers, and various remarks were made by some of the spectators. I suppose that women of their class in that part of the country never wore drawers of any sort. «Take down her trousers,» said Stevens. Again Miss Dean looked around. «Please leave me my pantalettes. They won’t protect me much. Do not expose my nakedness to all these men,» she pleaded earnestly.

But no attention was paid to her entreaty. One of the men roughly put his hands in front of her belly and after some fumbling unbuttoned the pantalettes and pulled them down to her ankles, leaving her person naked from the waist to the tops of her black silk stockings.

When her last garment had been removed, her pale cheeks blushed scarlet. Even the nape of her neck and her ears became red. A shudder shook her body from head to foot, she bent her head down and she closed her eyes. I was being held by two men close to the ladder, so I could not help seeing everything.

Miss Dean, as I have before said, was a tall, slim, slightly built woman. Her hips were very narrow and her bottom very small, but it was round, well shaped and fairly plump; her thighs and legs also were well formed though slender; her skin was of a delicate ivory tint, smooth, and fine in texture.

The men pressed closer to the ladder, and I could see their eyes glisten as they fixed them with lecherous looks on Miss Dean’s half-naked body. Stevens, after gazing for a moment or two at her straight figure, exclaimed with a laugh: «Je-ru-sa-lem! What a little bottom she’s got. It ain’t no bigger than a man’s. By gosh, boys! Perhaps she is a man!» This was meant as a joke. It amused the men and they all laughed, one of them calling out: «Well Jake, you can easily find out whether she’s a woman or not.»

«Why, so I can, now that you have put it in my head,» drawled Stevens, grinning and pretending to be surprised at the suggestion. Then he thrust his hand between her thighs.

Miss Dean flinched convulsively, uttering a startled cry. Then, looking round at the man with an expression of intense horror on her face and with her eyes flashing, she exclaimed: «How dare you touch me like that?! Take your hand away! Oh, whip me and let me go!»

She writhed and twisted, but the man kept his hand in the cleft of her thighs, saying with a coarse laugh: «She’s a woman sure enough, boys. I’ve got my hand on her slit.»

Then he said to her: «My hand won’t hurt you. But if I and these other gentlemen were not decent sort of chaps who only intend to carry out the sentence of Judge Lynch, you would soon find something different to a hand between your legs. Now I’ll whip you right away, and I guess you’ll soon be begging me to stop whipping you.»

He withdrew his hand, and Miss Dean ceased struggling. Her head drooped forward. She again closed her eyes and lay silently awaiting the shameful punishment.

Stevens raised the switch and flicked it about so as to make it hiss in the air. Then he brought it down with considerable force across the upper part of her bottom, the tough hickory spray making a sharp crack as it struck the firm flesh which quivered involuntarily under the stinging stroke.

Miss Dean winced, drawing her breath through her teeth with a hissing sound. A long red weal instantly rose on her delicate skin.

Swinging the switch high, Stevens went on whipping, laying each stroke below the preceding one so that her skin soon was striped in regular lines. Each stroke smacked loudly on her flesh, and each one raised a fresh, red weal which stretched across both sides of her quivering bottom.

She began to writhe, and she clenched her teeth so tightly that I could see the outlines of her jaws through her cheeks, but no sound came from her lips. The man laid on the strokes with severity, and I wondered how she could bear the pain in silence. I felt inclined to scream, and I shuddered every time that I heard the horrid sound made by the switch as it fell on her flesh.

Stevens continued to whip her ruthlessly and slowly, pausing between each stroke. The weals increased in number and her skin grew redder until at last there was not a trace of white to be seen on the whole surface of her bottom. Her flesh twitched, she winced more sharply, she writhed more and she jerked her loins from side to side as the hissing strokes fell. Then, raising her head and looking over her shoulder, she fixed her eyes, which had become dilated and wild looking, on the switch every time it rose in the air.

Her lips were quivering, her pretty face was distorted with pain, the big tears were streaming down her scarlet cheeks and she began to moan. Still Stevens plied the hickory. Drops of blood began to show all over the surface of the skin. Her contortions became more violent and she uttered a groan every time the switch raised a fresh weal on her bleeding bottom. But the brave woman never once screamed, nor did she make an appeal for mercy. Her fortitude amazed me.

At last Stevens stopped whipping and threw down the switch which had become quite frayed at the end. Then, bending down, he closely examined the marks of his handiwork on the sufferer’s bottom.

I also gazed at it, shuddering. The whole surface from the loins to the thighs was a dark red color; it was covered with livid weals crossing and recrossing each other in all directions, and it was plentifully spotted with blood. It was dreadfully sore looking and its extreme redness contrasted with the ivory-like whiteness of the untouched skin of the thighs. She had been most severely whipped. I think she must have received forty or fifty strokes.

«There boys,» said Stevens, looking round at the spectators, «I guess that will do for her. I touched her up pretty smartly, as you can see by the state of her bottom. She won’t be able to sit down comfortable for two or three days, and I don’t think the marks of the whipping will ever be quite rubbed off her skin.»

He then pulled down her clothes and unfastened her wrists and ankles. She stood up, twisting her loins in pain, with her pantalettes hanging about her feet. Her face now was pale and drawn with suffering, her bosom was heaving, her tears were flowing and she was sobbing.

She seemed oblivious of everything except her pain. But, after a few moments, she recovered herself a little and, taking her handkerchief from her pocket, wiped the tears from her eyes. Then she pulled up her pantalettes and with some difficulty—for she was trembling very much—buttoned them around her waist, her cheeks again reddening when she noticed the grinning faces and leering looks of the men standing round her.

Two of the men then took her by the arms and led her into the veranda, where they left her. She laid herself down at full length upon a couch and hid her face in the cushion, weeping.

View online : I am stripped naked and receive a most terrible whipping (Chapter V)

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