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    [Slavery] and [Duncan F. Kenner]. Louisiana Sugar Plantation "Texas" Overseer's Record and Account Book for the year 1855. 4to, 112 pages. Produced by Thomas Affleck of New Orleans and published in 1854 specifically for use on sugar plantations "...suitable for a force of 80 hands, or under..." This particular example was used by overseer W. C. Trimble on the Louisiana sugar plantation of Duncan F. Kenner (1813-1887), called "Texas." Kenner was a member of a prominent Louisiana planter family who served several terms as a Whig in the Louisiana House of Representatives. After the secession of the Southern states, he served in the Confederate Congress and, in 1864, was appointed minister plenipotentiary to Europe by Confederate President Jefferson Davis, in an effort to urge the recognition of the Confederate States by England and France. He was also the owner of one of the largest sugar plantations in Louisiana, known as Ashland. The plantation of Ashland is mentioned in several places, most notably in an entry dated September 8: "Saturday...Bought 8 mules 4 for Texas & 4 for Ashland Paid $167.51 per head."

    An interesting feature of this book is the existence of "The Duties of an Overseer," found on the last two pages, with quotes from "Washington's Instructions to his Overseers." According to the guide, the overseer should refrain from "...taking up your own time and that of the servants..."; avoid unnecessary expenses; maintain the "...health of the negroes..."; care for the livestock and farm tools; take care in exercising "...judgment and consideration in the management of the Negroes..." by being "...firm, and at the same time gentle...even if inflicting the severest punishment..." The guide recommends that "Whenever an opportunity is afforded you for rewarding continued good behavior, do not let it pass...," but cautions to "Never be induced by a course of good behavior ...to relax the strictness of your discipline...."

    Designed for use over the course of one year, the book is divided up into quarters and at each quarter year mark is found a "Quarterly Inventory of Stock and Implements." Each page has listed the days of the week and on each Trimble gives an account of the work performed, the total number of sick "hands" out for the day, and the conditions of the weather. Texas plantation housed fifty-seven male and thirty-one female slaves, all of whom are recorded by name, but it is unclear how many of those listed, if any, were children. Trimble also notes that during the year a total of six children, five boys and one girl, were born and six slaves died, two of which were children: "Saturday [February 10]...Lost a negro boy...with the Consumption".

    Labor is recorded daily by Trimble and includes ditching, clearing ground, and plowing to plant sugar cane and corn (early in the Spring), peas (beginning in June), and sweet potatoes (harvesting and gathering in October); burying trash; cutting wood; and cutting and turning fodder (for the livestock). In late October, all hands are used to begin the strenuous process of harvesting the cane and transporting it to the mill for processing.

    In addition to the mundane details of work, other events, which break up the monotony of the text, are scattered throughout. Trimble records the deaths of some of the locals: "Saturday [July 28]...old Antwin died this evening"; "Monday [December 24]...Milly [?] got killed by the fall of a tree this morning." He remarks that work is ongoing on the erection of a new brick cabin (with additional notes made in the margins listing each contractor, i. e. masons, engineers, coppersmiths, etc. as well as the number of meals provided per day), but work was halted briefly: "Sunday [July 22]...the brick shed burnt down this morn." The slaves are periodically given rations and, at times, "gifts": "Sunday [May 6]. All hands idle. Gave molasses. The negroes got their present money to day..." and "Tuesday [November 6]...The weather rainy All hands stoped [sic] work & gave out the negroes clothes..." All work, however, is not done solely for the sake of the plantation as oftentimes slaves were given their own plots of land to cultivate for their personal use: "Sunday [October 15]...All hands gathering negroes corn." On Christmas Day, the slaves are given a day off, but work resumes the following day. Trimble also notes that several times during the year, "Mr. Kenner" would visit the plantation and stay for varying lengths of time, the longest being a month long stay with his family from May 4 until June 7.

    The end of the book is comprised of record sheets including: Record of Wood Cut; Record of Coopers' Work; Record of Clothing, Tools, &c., Given Out to the Negroes; The Overseer's Entry of, and Receipt for, Supplies; Record of the Weight of each Hhd. [hogshead] of Sugar Made; Record of each Barrel of Molasses; Record of the Shipments of Sugar and Molasses; Overseer's Record of Births and Deaths of Negroes; Record of the Physician's Visit to the Sick, &c.; The Planter's Annual Record of his Negroes; Planter's Statement of Expenses; etc.

    Moderate to heavily toned and foxed with some soiling throughout. Page edges are chipped. Cover and "Prefatory Remarks" page heavily damaged. Water damage along the lower half of the gutter and bottom edge of pages, but aside from some light fading of the ink on some pages, does not affect the text. Binding is damaged and several of the pages are detached. The text remains very bold and overall very bright.


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