The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973 Page: 383
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Life on Antebellum Slave Plantations
their families, and they reacted toward their owners as individuals.59
Of course, the slave could not know the nature of his master's financial
worries. Few, if any, had ever heard of mortgages and deeds of trust to
cover the lands and even the slaves of a planter. However, they could
recognize that the state of the weather and the crops affected affairs on
the plantation, and they could share their master's concern about such
conditions, even if they did not realize the seriousness of his worry.
The Civil War, with the Confederate government's cotton policies,
the conscription of planters and overseers, the impressment of the finest
men among the slaves, the taking of the best mules and horses for the
army, and the general confusion, left agriculture in a disorganized con-
dition. Plantations at the war's end were run down, their resources de-
pleted not only by enforced neglect but also by the loss of at least a third
of their capital. Many of the planters were old if not dead, and the
young men returning from the war were crippled, ill, malnourished,
and confused-a defeated people unready to take on at once the tremen-
dous task of rebuilding the economy and life in general.
On the other hand, the Negro left slavery possessing little more than
his clothing (most of which had seen hard wear and few replacements),
his iron skillet, his pots, and his tin buckets. Many stayed on the planta-
tion for a time; but others left immediately. After all, they had been
told they were free to go, and they went. Without shelter, food, cloth-
ing, and medical care, the Negro was to suffer before he learned to use
his new freedom. His transition to freedom was an expanding and stim-
ulating experience for all of Texas, but it was abrupt and explosive,
and ripped apart the structure of one familiar, if unadmirable, way of
life for the Negroes without providing any immediately workable re-
placement. Texas, and the South in general, has spent more than a
century building a new and still imperfect structure of society to take
59 Oltorf, Marlin Compound, log; Z. Bartlett to Sarah Page, September 2a, 1867, August
ii, 1869, ibid., 153, 155; Woods (comp.), Waldeck Letters, passim; numerous statements in
the Devereux Papers and in the Hill Papers; DeBow's Review (New Orleans), XVIII, 54.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973, periodical, 1973; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101202/m1/439/: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.