Up For Auction: Why Did The Fear Of This Punishment Method Scare Runaway Slaves More Than Beatings

Written by Rewindingblack

by Jae Jones

Slave patrols, who were also referred to as pattyrollers, patrollers, or paddy rollers by the slaves. These were the people that if you were running from a plantation, you did not want to get caught by. These people were groups of White men who enforced and monitored that punishment of slaves, especially those who were defiant, and runaways. If a slave thought they might escape by boat, it was most likely short-lived because slave patrols were station along the rivers as well. The group of men were first established in South Carolina during the early part of the 1700s.

To keep slaves in control the slave patrols were given money and tobacco. However, there were laws that the patrols were expected to abide by. They were to return the slaves back to their plantation if they were caught with a pass. If the slave was indeed a runaway, they would be punished. All Blacks could be questioned at any time. They could also be searched and harassed in other ways, if the slave patrols saw fit. Many Blacks were beat and whipped if the slave patrol felt they were being incompliant.

However, being beat was not the biggest fear for the slaves. The slaves did not want to go on the auction block. If put on the auction block they would most likely never see their families again. However, if the slave was a bit of a trouble maker, most master’s preferred to auction them off and let someone else worry with the slave. While traveling back to their plantation or any place with a slave patrol, the slaves were badly mistreated.

Slave patrols were often equipped with guns and whips and would exert brutal and racially motivated control. There were many times, blacks developed many methods of challenging slave patrolling, occasionally fighting back violently. Slave patrollers had different duties, characteristics and benefits that were very different from the slave owners. The slave owners valued their property, but the slave patrollers could care less. They were interested in making their money. The patrols also would burst in on meetings being conducting by slaves, and any other large gatherings they could stop.

With the war lost, Southern whites’ had fear as the African Americans increased in population 1865. Even though and patrols were legally ended, the patrol system still were able to survive. Almost immediately in the aftermath of the war, informal patrols sprang into action. Later, city and rural police squads, along with the help of Union army officers, revived patrolling practices among free men.

During the Reconstruction period, old of date patrol methods resurfaced and were enforced by postwar Southern police officers, and then the Ku Klux Klan got involved. After slaves had gained their freedom, they still were no equal. They continued to be suppressed and to add more to it along came the Ku Klux Klan to make things never resting or peaceful for them.



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