This is from the book “12 Years as a slave” by Solomon Northup, describing how cotton picking was managed on the plantation.
“An ordinary day’s work is two hundred pounds. A slave who is accustomed to picking, is punished, if he or she brings in a less quantity than that.
There is a great difference among them as regards this kind of labor. Some of them seem to have a natural knack, or quickness, which enables them to pick with great celerity, and with both hands, while others, with whatever practice or industry, are utterly unable to come up to the ordinary standard. Such hands are taken from the cotton field and employed in other business.
Patsey, of whom I shall have more to say, was known as the most remarkable cotton picker on Bayou Boeuf. She picked with both hands and with such surprising rapidity, that five hundred pounds…
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