Thistlewood's diary reveals a great deal not only about the man and his slaves but also about the structure and enforcement of power, changing understandings of human rights and freedom, and connections among social class, race, and gender, as well as sex and sexuality, in the plantation system.
Mr. Micajah Ricks, Nash County, North Carolina, in the Raleigh "Standard," July 18, 1838.
"Ranaway, a negro woman and two children; a few days before she went off, I burnt her with a hot iron, on the left side of her face, I tried to make the letter M."
Mr. William Overstreet, Benton, Yazoo Co. Mi. in the "Lexington (Kentucky) Observer," July 22, 1838.
"Ranaway a negro man named Henry, his left eye out, some scars from a dirk on and under his left arm, and much scarred with the whip."
Mr. J. P. Ashford, Adams Co. Mi. in the "Natchez Courier," August 24, 1838.
"Ranaway a negro girl called Mary, has a small scar over her eye, a good many teeth missing, the letter A. is branded on her cheek and forehead."
"Mrs. Turner was originally a Boston lady. She is from 35 to 40 years of age, and the wife of Judge Turner, formerly of New Orleans, and worth a large fortune in slaves and plantations. I repeatedly heard, while in Lexington, Kentucky, during the winter of 1836-7, of the wanton cruelty practised by this woman upon her slaves, and that she had caused several to be whipped to death; but I never heard that she was suspected of being deranged, otherwise than by the indulgence of an ungoverned temper, until I heard that her husband was attempting to incarcerate her in the Lunatic Asylum. The citizens of Lexington, believing the charge to be a false one, rose and prevented the accomplishment for a time, until, lulled by the fair promises of his friends, they left his domicil, and in the dead of night she was taken by force, and conveyed to the asylum. This proceeding being judged illegal by her friends, a suit was instituted to liberate her. I heard the testimony on the trial, which related only to proceedings had in order to getting her admitted into the asylum; and no facts came out relative to her treatment of her slaves, other than of a general character.
"Some days after the above trial, (which by the way did not come to an ultimate decision, as I believe) I was present in my brother's office, when Judge Turner, in a long conversation with my brother on the subject of his trials with his wife, said, 'That woman has been the immediate cause of the death of six of my servants, by her severities.'
"I was repeatedly told, while I was there, that she drove a colored boy from the second story window, a distance of 15 to 18 feet, on to the pavement, which made him a cripple for a time."
"I have frequently seen the mistress of a family in Virginia, with whom I was well acquainted, beat the woman who performed the kitchen work, with a stick two feet and a half long, and nearly as thick as my wrist; striking her over the head, and across the small of the back, as she was bent over at her work, with as much spite as you would a snake, and for what I should consider no offence at all. There lived in this same family a young man, a slave, who was in the habit of running away. He returned one time after a week's absence. The master took him into the barn, stripped him entirely naked, tied him up by his hands so high that he could not reach the floor, tied his feet together, and put a small rail between his legs, so that he could not avoid the blows, and commenced whipping him. He told me that he gave him five hundred lashes. At any rate, he was covered with wounds from head to foot. Not a place as big as my hand but what was cut. Such things as these are perfectly common all over Virginia; at least so far as I am acquainted. Generally, planters avoid punishing their slaves before strangers."
...there is a lot that Görtemaker and the rest of us do not know. With so little to go on, [Eva] Braun still appears to be more metaphor than flesh and blood. Her blankness is her defining characteristic. Braun can be, and was ... a stand-in for the unquestioning wives of the officers who carried out Hitler's orders -- even for the nation of Germany itself. Or, if you'd like to take it further, for the wives of politicians who stand by loyally as their husbands drag us into war, women who marry serial killers serving life sentences in prison, or every woman who defends the boyfriend who brutalizes her night after night. We don't understand these women, just as we still don't quite understand how that whole Nazi Germany thing happened, no matter how much we analyze the historical record.