I was thinking about defender of slavery and traitor Jefferson Davis tonight because of the Senate debate in MS, and I am not sure if I ever wrote about how Davis’ slaves reacted to their “benevolent” slave owner. First up, there is William Jackson who was a slave in the household of Jefferson Davis and turned out to be a spy for the Union.
Jackson was Davis' house servant and personal coachman. He learned high-level details about Confederate battle plans and movements because Davis saw him as a “piece of furniture” — not a human, according to Ken Dagler, author of “Black Dispatches,” which explores espionage by America's slaves.
“Because of his role as a menial servant, he simply was ignored,” Dagler said. “So Jefferson Davis would hold conversations with military and Confederate civilian officials in his presence.”
According to this article, Jackson fled in late 1861 to the Union and reported all of what he heard, including information on supply routes and military strategy.
The “funny” thing about Jackson’s actions is that Jefferson Davis thought that slavery was necessary to bring civilization to the inferior black slaves. Slavery got a bad reputation because of the cruely that some slave owners displayed to their slaves. Southerners just needed to clean up their act with the few bad actor slave owners and everything would be hunky dory. Supposedly, Davis didn’t apply the harsh methods of other slave owners, and because Davis was “gentle” with his slaves, this should have instilled in his slaves a sense of loyalty to their master Jefferson Davis. Kind of like being a member of the family.
And I’m sure that if Davis ever found out about Jackson’s spying, he would have told himself that Jackson was just one ungrateful former slave. Sort of like those bad actor slave owners. Just one rotten apple among his slaves.
Too bad his house slaves in MS showed the occupying Union Army where Davis’ family had hidden their valuables. As soon as the Union soldiers showed up on Davis’ estate, the house slaves were pointing out, “Here is the gold, silver, and jewels that the Davis family is trying to hide.” Those ungrateful slaves!