"Masters must answer," The Mobberly Diaries, Part I, 1820

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"Masters must answer," The Mobberly Diaries, Part I, 1820


Slaves-Abuse of; Slave labor; Slaves--United States--Social conditions; Master and Servant;


Br. Joseph Mobberly lists ten crimes that masters commit against their slaves, varying from neglect to stopping them from leading a Christian life.


Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ Papers


Diary Part I, Box I, Folder I, p. 141-143, Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ Papers, Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Georgetown University.

The Joseph P. Mobberly Papers have been digitized in their entirity by Georgetown Univeristy Library. To browse the collection visit Digital Georgetown.


Georgetown University Archive

The Mobberly Diaries were previously hosted by the Jesuit Plantation Project.




Adam Rothman, Elsa Barraza Mendoza, Jesuit Plantation Project


Georgetown University Library









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[Page 141]

Lenient measures towards slaves

Some years ago Blacks were more easily kept in due subordination, and were more patient under the rod of correction, than they are now, because then discipline flourished, but now it is going to decay. The present white generation seem to lose sight of the old observation "the better a negro is treated, the worse he becomes." It is [may be -- struck out] said that the experimental truth of the above observation gave rise to the following lines."Tender handed brush a nettle,
And it stings you for you pains;
Grasp it like a man of mettle,
And as silk it soft remains:
It is the case with common natures,
Treat them kindly, they rebel;
But be rough as nutmeg grates,
And the rogues obey you well."

[Page 142]

Masters must answer for their slaves

1. For exposing the lives of their slaves by not providing them with beds & comfortable houses.

2. -- Permitting whole families of children without regard to sex, to sleep in the same bed, by which means they become corrupt in their tender years.

3. -- Not providing them with necessary food and raiment & thus refusing to pay their labourers their wages -- a sin crying to heaven for vengence.

4. -- Not permitting them to marry.

5. -- Not instructing them in their christian duty, so as to prepare them properly for the sacraments.

6. -- Not compelling them by proper means to perform their christian duties.

7. -- Not restraining them in their evil courses & not caring to chastise them for their immoral conduct.

8. -- Using cruel methods is correcting them.

[Page 143]

Masters must answer for their slaves

9. -- Neglecting them in sickeness and old age.

10. -- Selling them under grievous circumstances and separating man and wife.

How many masters will infallibly be lost for the commission of the above crimes? In this life, they are empoverished by keeping slaves: their lives are filled with cares & vexations: their prospects of happiness are marred & when they die, they lose all for ever! Who then would possess a Slave?

Original Format




Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ Papers, “"Masters must answer," The Mobberly Diaries, Part I, 1820,” Georgetown Slavery Archive, accessed July 22, 2024, https://slaveryarchive.georgetown.edu/items/show/152.