Henry William Ravenel: Slave Owner

Superior Essays
Henry William Ravenel was a slave owner in the early to mid-1800s. While he managed a plantation, Ravenel became an important self-trained naturalist whose studies of American fungi achieved international renown. However after the civil many slave owners were unable to provide for their families. In order to support his family Ravenel sold seeds and parts of his collections of fungi to collectors. He later worked as a naturalist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Life for people living in the south after the civil war was just staggering. Beginning in 1859, Ravenel wrote frequently in a journal until his death in 1887. Inside the journal Ravenel talked about the life of a southern family after they lost their slaves. In these four months’ …show more content…
A friend of his, Dr. Frank Porcher, had dinner with him that night and told him great news. The northern part of the country was in danger of famine and were going to be without salt. Dr. Porcher says they should stay where they’re at. However the next day Ravenel learned of troubling news. In the next few days their army would be defeated and the city have no choice but to “fall under Yankee rule & the laws & authority of the U. States are established during the continuance of the war.” The relationship between the slaves and their owners as well as what will happen to the plantations is unknown. But Ravenel believe owners should stick by their slaves, protecting, caring for and giving attention towards them because they have been faithful till the end. Ravenel repeated this same thing the next day in his journal but in more depth. Since the slaves have grown up under them and have obeyed their every order, the owners have, “in the sight of God, a sacred duty to stand by them as long as they are faithful to us.” If the slaves were on their own they wouldn’t be able to continue living their lives in happy conditions. A week later David, a friend of his, told him the enemy had already been to Pineville, a town not too far away from where they live. Many slaves began to refuse to work. Ravenel knew “the freed & idle negroes who are not kept now under discipline or fear will give us trouble.” Ravenel was full of …show more content…
On the second night of the month, approximately at two a.m., gun shots were fired outside of his house. At least five men had invaded their house and took away most of their merchandise including their horses and wagons. They also told “the negroes they were free & should no longer work for him and if they worked for their master again they would shoot them when they came back.” This frightened the slaves and didn’t know what to do. Ravenel told them everything will be alright and they should continue doing what they normally do. But the slaves remained stress and scared weeks after the incident. Many of them began thinking that living in freedom wasn’t such a bad idea and stop working. Slaves from other farms had already fled from their masters and joined the army. Each and every day Ravenel wrote about how his slaves’ behavior changed since that dreadful day. On May 22nd Ravenel wrote how everyone began “to realize the ruin to property which the war has entailed upon us.” All people who owned slaves will suffer because labor will no longer be cheap and workers won’t move as fast. The railroads were destroyed, banks will lose out of money because of lost stocks and bonds, and families had little money after the war. Cotton was burnt, stolen or sold and there was no other way to earn money. Although his slaves didn’t want to leave his side, Ravenel couldn’t afford to keep

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