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Wives of planters.

The busiest women the world has ever seen were the wives and daughters of the Southern planters during the days of slavery. They were busy from morning until night, and sometimes far into the night.

They were practically at the head of the commissary and sanitary departments of the plantation. It was a part of their duty to see that the negroes were properly fed, clothed, and shod. They did not, it is true, go into the market and purchase the supplies; that was a matter that could be attended to even by a dull-witted man; but after the supplies were bought it was the woman's intelligent management that caused them to be properly distributed.

I have never yet heard of a Southern woman who surrendered the keys of her smoke-house and store-room to an overseer. The distribution of the supplies, however, was a comparatively small item.

Take, for example, the clothing provided for, say one hundred negroes, male and female, large and small. The cloth was bought in bolts, though occasionally a considerable portion was woven on the plantation on the old-fashioned hand-looms. Whether bought or woven the cloth had to be cut out and made into garments. Who was to superintend and see to all this if not the woman? Who was at the head of the domestic establishment? There were seamstresses to make up the clothes, but all the details and preparations had to be looked after by the mistress, and it oftentimes fell to her lot to go down on her knees on the floor and cut out garments for hours at a time.

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