• Jul 5, 2015

Glossary of Terms

Bill of Sale—A contract between a slave owner and a potential buyer, detailing a slave’s worth.

Bondage—The condition of being enslaved

Clodhoppers—Large, clunky shoes. The word implies a person is a rural, country bumpkin. Originates from plowmen who would accumulate clods of dirt on their shoes when working the land.

Consumption—Another name for tuberculosis, an infectious lung disease

County Farm—Slang for a prison where convicts perform outdoor manual labor

General Grant—Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) was appointed Commanding General of the United States Army during the Civil War and later became the 18th President of the United States.

Ham hock—The lower portion of a pig’s hind leg, which is usually smoked or cured and used to add smoky and salty flavor to soups and stews.

Hoecake—A thin cake made from cornmeal

“I Belong to the Band”—A traditional gospel song that appeared in church songbooks as early as the 1830s.

“James Alley Blues”—A song written by American blues guitarist Richard “Rabbit” Brown. Eli and Solly sing a verse; “I give you sugar for sugar, and salt for salt…”

Middle Passage—The middle leg of the Atlantic slave trade. European goods were traded in African markets for African slaves, who were sent to the “New World” and traded for raw materials that were sent back to Europe. Ten to fifteen percent of the Africans brought over on these ships perished, due to disease, malnutrition and suicide.

Moonshine—Homemade whiskey or other alcohol that has been produced illegally

Opelika, Alabama—A town in eastern Alabama that found itself economically devastated after the Civil War.

Pure collector—Solly’s job. A pure collector gathers dog excrement to sell to a tanner, a person who processes animal hides into leather for books, clothes and shoes.

Samson—A Biblical figure found in the Book of Judges who was possessed with superhuman strength. His wife Delilah got him to confess the secret to his strength—his hair—and betrayed him, cutting his hair of in his sleep.

“Twelve Gates to the City”—A popular gospel song by Reverend Gary Davis, inspired by a verse from chapter 21 of the Book of Revelation that describes the New Jerusalem, a paradise city that will be established by the Messiah.

Underground Railroad—A system that helped fugitive slaves escape to the North or to Canada. White abolitionists and free blacks organized different local stands to aid fugitive slaves in their journey.

W.C. Bryant—William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) was an American poet and a long-time editor of the New York Evening Post who advocated for many social reforms, including abolition.