This Day (Whipt and Collared Edition)

Published:April 26, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

On this day in 1688, the General Court found Sam, the slave of Richard Metcalfe of Westmoreland County, guilty in James City County of promoting a slave rebellion. His conviction came just six months or so after a suspected plot was discovered in Westmoreland County. His sentence required him to be “severely whipt” multiple times, after which he was to be fitted with

a strong Iron collar affixed about his neck with four spriggs which collar he is never to take or gett off nor to goe off his master or masters plantacon during all the time he shall live, and if he shall goe off his said master or masters plantacon or get off his collar then to be hanged.

IMAGES: Punishment collar (New York Public Library); detail of illustration from Carlos Juliao, Riscos illuminados de figurinhos de broncos e negros dos uzos do Rio de Janeiro e Serro do Frio (1960) (Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas)


7 Comments on “This Day (Whipt and Collared Edition)”

  1. Michael C. Lucas

    Understanding what 21st century views may apply that do not adhere to 17th century views. If a man, woman, or group affiliation determined to threaten the populace to determine their own free will vs. the will of the majority which dictates what will there is. The crime would likely be considered terrorism, even though he was a slave by enacting the threat of servile insurrection to murder others is the crime. That does not detract from their own immoral enslavement, but it does not support that the immorality of murder and other crimes either to attain their own free will vs. being dictated by circumstances beyond their authority or control.

  2. Brendan Wolfe Post author

    Thanks for the comment, Mr. Lucas. Two questions: do you find, in the above, the application of “21st century views” on the material? If so, where? I’m also wondering if you could expand on the idea of “their own immoral enslavement”? I mean, let’s say that YOU were immorally, but legally, enslaved according to an arrangement supported by the general “populace.” Would you decline to resist? Or, if you did resist, would you find that such punishment as received by Sam perfectly appropriate because, after all, you are a terrorist?

    Where the will to be free and the resistance to enslavement are concerned, I’m not sure that the distinction between seventeenth and twenty-first century views is particularly relevant.

  3. Michael C. Lucas

    This is a complex subject. Question 1. Too often the obverse of the coin has been left flat to the table. Distorted by ennobling the Slaves plight and demonizing the Masters. Nothing is mentioned to convey the fear of society at large in their humanity or right to their self defense. More often the agenda is solely in empathy solely for the defense of the Slave. If your going to present this paradoxical subject of slave and master, morality and immorality, it has to be broken down to its very origin. The origin goes back to the basic foundations of life. It is inherent in all living things to dominate what one needs to survive. Within humanity it takes on other forms, not only is dominance for ones survival or ones livelihood the necessity, but also dominance for desires and greed there of things they consider important ,even ideas. The need to dominate leads to conflict, subjugation and war. Occasionally compromise works, but it does change the game of survival. The resulting necessity to maintain dominance is the submission of ones opposition, resulting in their oppression. It is natural to resist ones oppression, end the one who submits is at the will of the Victor.

  4. Brendan Wolfe Post author

    Thanks for checking back in. Clearly, you’ve read your Aristotle:

    If you believe that it is “natural” to enslave other people, and if you believe that Africans like Sam were to blame for “submitting” and therefore were “at the will of the Victor,” and, I guess if you believe that this blog post somehow demonized masters … well, there’s not much common ground for our discussion.

    Thanks for reading.

  5. Michael C. Lucas

    Mr. Wolfe,

    I didn’t have to read Aristotle. I’m a historian, The historical record proves a consistent chain of events and actions, to prove my statement, humans have instinctive traits which support repetitive behavior. What some may deem as history repeating itself. The majority of “common sense” instincts and behaviors show substantial evidence in mans inhumanity to humanity. The question is what is your agenda? As for me it is the truth period vs. distorted mythology to ones ideas, to objectively discern fact from fiction, without emotional rhetoric. The fact is tit for tat, there have been times when masters were slaves, and slaves were masters, and the cycle is repetitive in human nature. Believe what ever fiction you may the historical record will not be changed. But the hypocrisy of the ennobled savage will end. We are human and that is our history.

  6. Brendan Wolfe Post author

    Honestly, I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. I’ve invited you to speak specifically to what we’ve written on this blog and in our entries and you haven’t done that. Thanks for the comments; my part of the conversation ends here.

  7. Michael C. Lucas

    It’s apparent you have no idea. You completely misinterpreted my comments and you posted snarky remarks in regards to my comments on another post on your blog. Your so fired up you can’t comprehend whats been presented, so you get snarky.

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