suppress or crush completely
The local militia and Federal troops were called in to
quell this unplanned and unrehearsed insurrection.
the outward flow of the tide
In these streams the
ebb and flow of the tide is visible for miles inland—hence the name Tidewater Maryland.
prepared for raising crops by plowing or fertilizing
Beyond this lay the fields, the clear
cultivated land bordered by the forest.
not carefully or expertly made
There was a
crude fireplace with one or two black iron pots standing in front of it.
an open recess in a wall where a fire can be built
hearth was merely a continuation of the dirt floor.
free from slavery or servitude
If they were faithful and hardworking, the master would set them free,
manumit them, when he died.
secret or hidden
This was said with a
covert glance at the tiny new baby, Minta or Minty, who lay close by Old Rit’s side, in a corner of the cabin.
showing no enthusiasm
One of the sad
dispirited slaves said that freedom lay only in death.
stubbornly resistant to authority or control
To the slaves those words, sold South, sold down the river, carried the sound of doom. The master used it as a threat to
Though she was very old, she could still switch a small child with
vigor, using a tough young shoot from a black gum tree, to enforce obedience.
without care; in a slapdash manner
The children were fed in a
haphazard fashion, a bit of corn bread here, a scrap of pork there; occasionally they received a cup of milk, sometimes potatoes.
characterized by dishonor
He said that it was
degrading for a colored man to bow to a white man.
organized opposition to authority
Finally, he planned an
insurrection, in which he and his followers were to kill all the white people in Charleston, South Carolina, and free the slaves.
relating to or involving slaves
Two slaves standing talking would be whipped. They might be plotting
servile insurrection, those long hard words that meant death to the master, death to the slave, too.
in a secretive manner
The summers were warm, and there were creeks and inlets and streams in the nearby woods where they could catch fish,
surreptitiously, of course, because they weren’t supposed to.
leave or give, especially by will after one's death
The Latin dictionary was the first of thirteen thousand volumes which he would eventually buy and, at his death,
bequeath to the Boston Public Library.
receive a specified treatment
Years later, Theodore Parker
incurred the wrath of the pro-slavery forces in the country.
predict or reveal, as if through divine inspiration
The other slaves were rather in awe of Ben because he could
prophesy about the weather.
perfect or complete or pure
All through the plantation, from the Big House to the stables, to the fields, he had a reputation for
a swarm of insects that attack plants
Rit told about Moses and the children of Israel, about how the sea parted so that the children walked across on dry land, about the
plague of locusts, about how some of the children were afraid on the long journey to the Promised Land, and so cried out: “It had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”
a jaunty rhythm in music or speech
Then came harvest, one of the best times of the year, when the big full moon lit the fields and the slaves worked late, singing songs that had a
lilt in them, songs that were like a thanksgiving for the abundance of the crop.
of or consisting of or resembling the soil
She knew and liked the damp
earthy smell of the dirt floor, even though they slept on the floor, huddled under thin ragged blankets, aware of the chill.
a speech of violent denunciation
His original draft of the Declaration contained a “vehement
philippic against Negro slavery.”
incapable of being repudiated or transferred to another
But these words were left intact: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
not in harmonious or agreeable combination
This idea, part of Jefferson's legacy to America, written down in one of the country's noblest documents, was
incompatible with the idea of legalized slavery.
a small boat propelled by oars or by sails or by a motor
As she walked the length of Cook’s trap line she saw an occasional gunning
skiff, heard the wild free crying of the water birds, watched them fly up, wings spread wide.
resembling the smell of a deer secretion or odorous perfume
They had an unpleasant
musky smell but she still didn’t like to see them held fast in the traps.
the distinctive property of a complex sound
It lent an added
timbre to her speaking voice.
an estate where cash crops are grown on a large scale
She did not know how to reach the Brodas
plantation, did not know in which direction to walk, assuming that she could have got away from the house.
tiresomely long; seemingly without end
It had seemed an
interminable journey when the overseer brought her to Miss Susan’s in a wagon.
a restriction insisted upon as a condition for an agreement
After five months had gone by, the Canadians said: “It is utterly impossible to agree to a
stipulation for the surrender of fugitive slaves.”
lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
Old Rit sniffed her
contempt for Miss Susan when she saw Minta.
a puddle where animals go to roll around
She was as filthy as though she’d been living in a hog
wallow, and her neck and back were covered with scars, old scars crisscrossed with fresh ones from the beating Miss Susan and her husband had given her because she ran away.
in an agile manner
She wound it around her head,
deftly, smoothly, and then tied it in place, pulling the knots tight and hard.
stubbornly resistant to authority or control
Sometimes this short, straight-backed young girl hummed under her breath, or sang, while she hoed the corn or tugged on the reins when a
refractory mule refused to budge.
vigorous and enthusiastic enjoyment
The slaves told it with
relish, the masters with distaste.
free from harm or evil
On the night of August 20, 1831, he said to six of his followers: “Our race is to be
delivered from bondage, and God has appointed us as the men to do His bidding
fearful expectation or anticipation
The slaveholders lived in
dread because the most faithful house slave might at any moment become another Nat, attacking the master, in the dead of night, with no warning.
freeing someone from the control of another
The subject of slavery was introduced because some of the counties, alarmed by the Nat Turner insurrection, had petitioned for the gradual
emancipation of the slaves or for abolition of slavery.
dominance through threat of punishment and violence
“We talk of freedom while slavery exists in the land, and speak with horror of the
tyranny of the Turk; but we foster an evil which the best interests of the community require shall be removed and to which we trace the cause of the depression of eastern Virginia.”