Full caption: Plantation manual, 1857-58.James Henry Hammond. James Henry Hammond Papers (container 43). Manuscript Division. LC-MS-24695-1. Full caption: Plantation manual, 1857-58.James Henry Hammond. James Henry Hammond Papers (container 43). Manuscript Division. LC-MS-24695-1.

A slave owner, Senator James Henry Hammond (1807-1864) of South Carolina compiled a detailed manual of instructions for the operation of his plantation, covering such diverse topics as crops, allowances, hogs, children, the overseer, and on the pages shown here, the old, the pregnant, and nursing mothers. Undoubtedly with an eye toward protecting and controlling his property, Hammond carefully outlined the number of months women slaves could nurse their babies, the length of time they could spend each day with their infants, the amount of work they were expected to perform, and even the body temperature they should maintain before nursing. The volume was compiled in 1857-58, around the same time that Hammond made his celebrated March 4, 1858, speech in the United States Senate arguing that “In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life. . . . It constitutes the very mudsill of society.” He went on to utter the oft-repeated words, “You dare not make war on cotton—no power on earth dares make war upon it. Cotton is king.”

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