The Diary of Hope

            Today is 21st of May 1830; I will be turning 40 years next week. Of all things that I have forgotten, my birthday does not number among them. I have been here for along time, sometimes it is difficult to tell exactly how long it has been. As a mother of two beautiful children, it is sad to know that you are considered the property of someone else.

The “big house” as we call it here is where the owner of the plantation lives, (Schwartz, 2001). It is definitely big, as compared to our little cottages. Every day here is the same; it is a routine kind of life. I wake up at 4.00a.m, to go and wash the masters’ clothes. The water is ice cold at this hour, but I do not mind. Am used to it anyway. After an hours work, it is time to head to the chicken shed to feed the hundreds of chicken the master owns. The noise they make may be disturbing to others but it is music to my ears. It is better than the loud, rough voice of the supervisor that I must hear today.

After doing thorough cleaning in the “big house”, it is already 7.00 a.m, time to go to the cotton plantation. We gather at the main entrance to the homestead. We are about thirty people, with most of them being men. This is because women are considered weak, and cannot execute manual work as perfectly as the men can. There are children here too at the age of twelve or thirteen because a child is considered capable of fieldwork. Am so scared because my daughter is almost twelve, though physically small, “the master” has records and will definitely demand to see her in the field.

A truck has arrived to take us to the farm and we gladly climb in. When we reach “the master’s” plantation, we are divided into groups to work on different sections of the plantation French, (1862). We start on one side of the plantation and work quietly. The supervisors are roaming all over the place making sure everyone is doing what they are required to do. If he spots you standing or talking to others, you will receive a warning. If spotted the second time your weekly portions of food will be reduced. No one wants this so we work diligently.

It is getting hot and our backs are complaining but it is almost break-time so we have to wait. Lunch-break is usually one hour so we utilize it to replenish our energy. I sit next to some of the womenfolk and we always discuss about our children. Some of our children are sick, but we have to wait until Friday for the medical doctor who comes to our compound. After lunch, working continues until 5.00 p.m. As it is the norm, we get into the truck and go home. Some of the men are left behind to collect firewood for their families. Today being Tuesday, I have to collect our weekly supply of food from the store. Besides, I have to go prepare dinner for the master. Together with other women, we are instructed on what the master and his family wishes to partake, and we start working to make the perfect meal.

By the time I get out of the “big house”, it is half past seven. I get to our cabin and start thinking what to cook for my family. My husband has brought home a big chunk of firewood and am pleased. We met in this compound and got married here. He started working here before me and is among the trusted workers of this compound. After supper, women put children to bed and then start spinning threads for cloths to earn a living (Weiner, 1997). My day does not end until late, and it is only after am too tired to do anything else that I can go to sleep.

Though “the master” treats the people well, it is hard to forget the fact that we are his property (Schwartz, 2001). We live under his jurisdiction and his decision is always the final one. We turn to Christianity for faith and something to believe in (Sinha, 2000). In the end, it is hope that keeps us living, we hope for a better house, a warmer bed, a less forceful supervisor and above all, a better tomorrow. We hope that our children, will own plantations of their own and their living conditions will be better than ours. Hope is all we have left.



Schwartz, M.J. (2001). Family Life in the Slave Quarters: Survival Strategies. Organization of American Historians. OAH Magazine of History, Vol: l1, no 4.

Weiner, M.F. (1997). Mistresses and Slaves: Plantation Women in South Carolina, 1830-80. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Sinha, M. (2000). The Counter-revolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum in South Carolina. Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press.

French, A.M. (1862). Slavery in South Carolina and the Ex-slaves: or, The Port Royal Mission. Cary, NC: W.M. French.

Still stressed from student homework?
Get quality assistance from academic writers!

WELCOME TO OUR NEW SITE. We Have Redesigned Our Website With You In Mind. Enjoy The New Experience With 15% OFF