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Queens of the kitchen.

Then there was the kitchen. No Southern woman could afford to turn that important department over to a negro cook. Such a thing was not to be thought of. The mistress of the plantation was also the mistress of the kitchen.

In order to teach their negroes the art of cooking the Southern women had to know how to cook themselves, and they were compelled to gain their knowledge from practical experience, for the kitchen is one of the places where theories cannot be entertained. There are negro women still living who got their training in the plantation kitchen, under the eyes of their mistresses, and their cooking is a spur to the appetite and a remedy for indigestion. It is no wonder that a Georgia woman, when she heard the negroes were really free, gave a sigh of relief and exclaimed:

‘Thank heaven! I shall have to work for them no more!’

These Southern women were the outgrowth of the plantation system, the result of six or seven generations of development. On that system they placed the impress of their humanity and refinement; and the outcome of it is to be seen in the condition of the negro race to-day. In the sphere of their homes and in their social relations they exercised a power and influence that has no parallel in history. As they were themselves, so they trained their daughters to be, and the Southern women of to-day still possess the characteristics that made their mothers and their grandmothers beautiful and gracious still possess the refinement that built up a rare civilization amid unpromising surroundings; still possess the energy and patience and gentleness that wrought order and discipline on the plantations.

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