Louisiana Woman – Slavery in the Household

As I continue to read Caroline Merrick’s memoir, I find that she narrated many aspects of her life.  She wrote of her home life, rumors of Civil War and there are personal accounts of living under Union occupation.  She also mentioned her relationship with the enslaved people in her household.  One day, for instance, Caroline’s nine-month-old needs to nap.  She handed her child over to the nurse, a slave, to put the child down to sleep.  The baby was evidently fussy and would not oblige the nurse. Merrick went into the room at the moment she caught the nurse, named Julia, inflicting a hard blow to the baby.  Merrick immediately grabbed the child and told the slave never to touch her again.  What was interesting about the sad event is Ms Merrick, “You are free from this hour!”  That seemed strange to me that to free her was her punishment.

Some days later Julia, the nurse, begged Merrick to take her back.  After two weeks of Julia crying and begging, Merrick took her back in.   Julia even had other slaves approach Merrick to let her back in the household instead of taking off with her freedom.  However, it took awhile for the child to want to be near the nurse.  This just seemed as a different sort of account between a slave and the mistress.

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