Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #24
…The Emancipation Proclamation is loosely applied, conveniently ignored, even mocked by owners of plantations…
Leon County lays claim to Tallahassee. Gadsen County has its Midway and Quincy. This is like comparing a metropolis to a berg or an employer to a slaver: John Ferrell to, let’s say, Jefferson Smythwick.
Good meets evil.
Blacks take a back seat; their rightful place in the previous equation, according to some and likely to be kept in this place by shrinking number of diehard racists. Jefferson Smythwick is such a man; Confederate to the bone, longtime slave owner, who refuses to let go of the past. ‘I’m too old to change.’ ‘Every one of my niggers is treated better than they deserve.’
Regarding the first quote, that may be true. As for the second, it is true only if you include third rate food and tar paper shacks as forms of reasonable compensation. The use of the “N” word indicates his level of respect for his “Employees”.
The Emancipation Proclamation is loosely applied, conveniently ignored, even mocked by owners of plantations the size of Smythwicks’ Fort Sumter South. Five thousand acres of cotton, rice, tobacco and sugar cane require many to tend its fields. Because of the sprawling acreage involved, land is divided into numerous farms, each with its own unique management position: the overseer.
There are very few plantations systems operating in 1896, definitely not sanctioned by any form of government, local or national. But, and a big but it is, the South is still healing itself, a mere 33 years after the Civil War. A tiger cannot change its stripes, so a rebel will always be a rebel. There is no doubt an 80 year old rebel in the town of Midway.
It is here in Midway, on one of the farms of Fort Sumter South, that we find the Campbell family, living and working as a unit. Willy Campbell is one of the best workers in these parts, a cigar maker by trade, as was his father before him. His combination of strength and aromatic skill make him a valuable human commodity. Wife Amanda, compliments him well, caring for the family in their private shack; a tainted privilege, considering that most families are split up. Some others have headed to the relative freedom north. The Campbells fall somewhere in between.
Amanda also provides the collective with five healthy children, but that counts young Emily, the fourth oldest having been run over by a runaway cargo wagon at the age of 2. Females have less worth than do males, of which Hosea and Alfrey make an oldest and youngest sandwich around Agnes and Francis; four children to grow up in a world of hard work and suppression.
This fine Negro family is viewed from the outside, as the victim of a cruel anomaly. They are, for all intents and purposes, still slaves. Yet they are being treated just well enough that they think they have it pretty good. Slaves are not paid, do not own anything of real value and, most importantly, are not free to “quit”.
Alpha Omega M.D.