Black Then: Food And Clothing Rations for Enslaved Black Men and Women

4 Posted by - June 16, 2018 - Food, SLAVERY

Enslaved black people didn’t have much. They could usually pack all their worldly possessions in a pillow case when it was time to move from one plantation to the next. However, the topic about where did the get clothing and food came up not too long ago, and because of that it was necessary to dig deep and find the answers. Slaves had everything rationed out to them. The clothes, food and the items they used in their slave quarters.

Weekly food rations consisted of lard, corn meal, molasses, meat, peas, greens and flour. These items were only given out on every Saturday. Slaves were to prepare their own morning meals in their quarters before heading out to the fields or what other assignments they had for the day. All other meals were prepared by one person, and this person was one who had become too old to work out in the fields any longer. It was up to the Master to allow the slaves to have small personal gardens of their own. If they had a little garden then that would be included in their food rations.

The slaves were usually allowed to break around noon for lunch, or when the overseer felt the slaves deserved a break.  According to one slave recalled what happened during that time: “The peas, the beans, the turnips, the potatoes, all seasoned up with meats and sometimes a ham bone, was cooked in a big iron kettle and when meal time come they all gathered around the pot for a-plenty of helpings!”

After all the work was done and families returned to their quarters, either a wife or mother would prepare the final meal for the day. Slaves were often in poor health because of the unhealthy food they were eating all the time. There was never enough food, and many times slaves would steal from the main house, or the house slaves would slip them a little extra. However, if either one was caught stealing from the house they would be punished.

Slaves on received clothes once a year, and this was often during Christmas time. Depending on the age, sex and type of work the slave did determined the clothing in which they received. Some children would have to go a complete year before receiving clothing. Since the older slaves did not work out in the field they didn’t receive warm clothing items, nor extra shoes. However, the house slaves often had the best clothing because they received the hand me downs of their Master’s and Mistresses.

All the slaves had different relationships with one another. Although they were all slaves some chose to distant themselves with those who worked in the field, especially in they were workers in the house, or main yard. Read more


source: Slavery and the Making of America

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