A despicable thing here in America was when one human owned another. I have spent some time this morning reading stirring accounts of men, women and children being placed up for auction by their owners; sometimes they were displayed, and sold, alone, other times as families; on occasion it was a mother and baby who stood on the auction block. That such contemptible behavior was so wide-spread and generally accepted amazes and sickens me.
“Those that could afford it kept slaves, and each owner put a mark upon his black servants, and registered the same with the town clerk, in order that runaways might be more easily traced. For instance the mark of Mathew Wygant was ‘a square notch of ha’penny on the upper side of the left ear’. This was previously Abraham Deyo’s mark, but in purchasing Deyo’s slave or slaves, Wygant evidently adopted it to avoid remarking the poor blacks.”
From Slave Narratives
Many masters treated their slaves poorly, some even cruelly, but there were those who were kind (even though, from our vantage point today, the act of owning another person could hardly be thought of as kindly.) By the time the Civil War ended, the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution had been instituted, there was no question: It was illegal for one man to own another. All slaves must be liberated.
Some slaves refused liberty. To one notion, this is understandable: For generations these people had been bound; decision making had been wrenched from them, every hour of their day was directed by another, their mates, in many cases, were selected by the masters, and their shacks were furnished by the plantation owners. Liberty was an unknown quantity, and was so frightening to some that they determined to stay with their former owners. They felt safe and secure there.
I thought of this scenario early this morning, when this song came to my mind. (I think it was written by Dottie Rambo.)
PRISONER OF LOVE I WHEN I CAME TO JESUS I SETTLED IT ALL. I GAVE HIM MY LIFE TO CONTROL. NEITHER FEAR NO PERSUASION COULD DRAW ME TO CHRIST. BUT HIS LOVE HAS CAPTURED MY SOUL II HE HOLDS ME SECURE WITH HIS LOVE STRONG AND TRUE. I'M HAPPY HIS SERVANT TO BE. IN BONDAGE TO JESUS FOREVER I'LL STAY MY SOUL DOESN'T WANT TO BE FREE. CHORUS I'M A PRISONER OF LOVE (I'M A PRISONER OF LOVE) A SLAVE TO THE MASTER I WILLINGLY TOIL (I WILLINGLY TOIL) THROUGH THE HEAT AND THE COLD I SEEK NO REWARD (I SEEK NO REWARD) IN THIS WORLD BELOW. BUT A PAYDAY WILL COME (BUT A PAYDAY WILL COME) WHEN THE PEARLY GATES UNFOLD.
That is how I feel today and every day; I’m a prisoner, a slave to Jesus Christ. My ear is notched, and proudly I display the sign of my link to Him. I’m free to leave His environs should I so choose, but how foolish would I be, for He is a kind and loving master. He provides for my every need, gives me joy, contentment and the promise of living one day in Heaven with Him. Yes, here I will remain–a love slave to Jesus Christ.