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Punishment of the pump
Liberty lore
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Lately in the news, there has been much about prisoners of war being tortured by the water-boarding method. I had never heard of such. Then, I read a very interesting true story I found on the Internet — “Fifty Years in Chains” or “The Life of an American Slave” that was published in 1850. 
The slave’s name was not revealed, as he was still a slave in 1850. I found a type of punishment that was dealt out to slaves that was similar to water-boarding.
This slave was born in Maryland. His mother was the slave of a tobacco planter. The planter died and the slave families were separated and sold. His mother was sold to a Georgia trader and another man bought the young boy who was only 4 years old.
When he was sold, he was naked having never worn clothes in his life. His new master put a child’s frock on him that belonged to one of his children. His master put him up on the horse with him but his mother came running by and grabbed him off. She clasped her arms around him and wept bitterly and begged the man to buy her too.
Her master came and snatched the boy out of her arms and gave her several lashings across her back with a rawhide whip. He heard her cries as they rode away on the horse. That was the last account he ever had of his mama.
As he was older and learned more, he had no doubts she had been chained and driven to Carolina or to Georgia and toiled out the residue of a forlorn and miserable existence in the rice fields or indigo fields.
His father was broken hearted about the sale of his wife and children and lost his will to live.
This is a terrible gut-wrenching story to read. From the time the little boy was separated from his mama, daddy and other sisters and brothers he had a horrible life. The story tells of his many masters, what they had or did not have in the most cases to eat, the horrible beatings he witnessed and had put upon himself, the many times he ran away and tried to get back home to his wife and family, and the ways of life on the plantations. 
If any of you are interested in reading this 106-page story, just look it up on the Internet.
The years went by and the slave had run away again. He was captured and his hands were bound behind him and taken to a tavern. This was in Savannah. About 10 in the morning, his master arrived with three more gentlemen whom the slave did not know.
The master told him he had messed up and asked the others if any wanted to buy him. The bidding started and one man bid $580 and took charge of him as his property.
The new master said his name was Jones. He was only visiting in that part of the country as his residence was about 50 miles down the country. (This may have been part of the Liberty County Charles Colcock Jones family.) He let him walk behind him unshackled.
He respected the trust the new master had in him and promised to himself that he would not try to run away until after he reached the residence. The idea of attempting to escape from Georgia never abandoned him for a moment. They went through sandy land that had been tilled much and had many pinewoods. Many swamps and lowlands intervened.
The same kind of treatment was being given to the slaves in the fields that they passed as there had been 20 years before when he was down here. The slave driver was still in the field with his whip and the slaves looked as if they hardly ever had meat to eat. The residence was only about 300 acres of cleared land and about 30 working slaves of all classes.
His first job was picking cotton.
Their rations were a half peck of corn and more than a peck of sweet potatoes given to them each Sunday morning.
After being there a week, the master came to the slave and told him he was in good hands as it was his practice not to whip his people much. In truth, he never whipped them or let his overseer, except in flagrant cases. He had discovered a mode of punishment much more mild, and at the same time, much more effectual than flogging; and he governed his slaves exclusively under this mode of discipline.
He then told him to come to the house that evening and he would make him acquainted with the principles upon which he chastised his slaves.
Going to the house that evening, his master showed him a pump set in a well in which the water rose within 10 feet of the surface of the ground. The spout of the pump was elevated at least 13 feet above the earth and when the water was to be drawn from it, the person who worked the handle ascended by a ladder to the proper station.
The water in the well was very cold and the pump discharged it in a large stream. One of the women employed in the house had committed some offense for which she was to be punished. This provided the master with an opportunity to show the slave the effect of this novel mode of torture upon the human frame.
The woman was stripped quite naked and tied to a post that stood just under the stream of water, as it fell from the spout of the pump. A lad was then ordered to ascend the ladder and pump water upon the head and shoulders of the victim.  She had not been under the waterfall for more than a minute before she began to cry and scream in a most lamentable manner. In a short tim, she exerted her strength in the most convulsive throes, trying to escape from the post. But, as the cords were strong, this was impossible.
After another minute or two her cries became weaker and soon afterwards her head fell forward upon her breast, and then the boy was ordered to cease pumping the water.
The woman was removed in a state of insensibility but recovered her faculties in about an hour. The next morning she complained of lightness of head, but was able to go to work.
The punishment of the pump, as it was called, was never inflicted on the slave telling the story but he described it by those who had endured it.
When the water first strikes the head and arms, it is not at all painful. But in a very short time, it produces the sensation that is felt when heavy blows are inflicted with rods the size of a man’s finger. This perception becomes more and more painful until the skull bone and shoulder blades appear to be broken in pieces.
Finally, all the faculties become oppressed; breathing becomes more and more difficult until the eyesight becomes dim and animation ceases.
This punishment is a temporary murder, as all the pains are endured that can be felt by a person who is deprived of life by being beaten.
After punishment of the pump, the sufferer is restored to existence by being laid in a bed and covered with warm clothes. A giddiness of the head and oppression of the breast follows this operation for a day or two or sometimes longer.
The reason the master had the slave watch was to intimidate him from running away. This had precisely the opposite effect.
The next day he made his escape and after many days made it to Savannah where be hid away on a ship and eventually made his way back to Philadelphia.
From there, he went back to his home to find his wife and three children. They had been sold to Georgia slave traders many months before. He never saw them again and had to stay hidden in Pennsylvania his remaining years.
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