How Black Babies Were Used As Alligator Bait By Hunters In America [Bitter History]

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In 418 B.C Herodotus, the Greek philosopher who is known as the father of history said “a man who does not know anything about the events that took place before he or she was born will remain forever a child.”

We must go a step further by saying that “any human being who refuses to learn from his or her history is condemned to repeating its mistakes and as such will share the same fate in the consequences of such mistakes.”

Africa is a continent rich in history. As we enjoy telling stories of our golden past, it is important that we also give a complete and undiluted account of our journey through slavery and man’s inhumanity to man.

Of all the atrocities committed against the enslaved Africans in the Americas and Europe, the use of babies as alligator bait is one which leaves anyone with a conscience, with a tear in the eye. Imagining that the child in question was yours, would send shivers down your spine.

These things are not easy to say, but we must say them, for posterity sake. And for the sake of the present and future.

Alligator bait, also called gator bait, was the evil practice of using infant African children as bait to lure alligators out from water to land. This practice was popular in Louisiana and Florida, and other parts of the South in America.

During that era, there was a high demand for alligator skin, which was used in the production of leather shoes, jackets, belts, and other leather materials. Alligator skin was very profitable in the 1800s-1900s. But the hunters often had accidents and lost their arms or lives as they rustled the swampy waters in their attempt to attract the alligators to the surface at night.

So, their other viable option was to steal slave babies and use them as bait. They didn’t find any rodents, or chickens, or rabbits, or little goats. Those were too valuable. It had to be a baby that a woman carried for 9 months under intense pain, brutality, and hard work. 

This account has been denied by many in their attempt to cover up this atrocity. But there are oral accounts, documentaries, and publications to substantiate our right to closure, empathy and healing.

In 1923 a publication on ‘Time Magazine ‘reported that “From Chipley, Fla., it was reported that colored babies were being used for alligator bait. The infants were left to play in shallow water while expert riflemen watch from concealment nearby. When a saurian approach his prey, he is shot by the riflemen.  The Chipley Chamber of Commerce said the story was “a silly lie, false and absurd.” Maybe so, but it was widely reported in the American press, so it was at least believable among white Americans of the time.”

To give further evidence of this vile practice, photos and postcards found in the Jim Crow museum shed clear light on this. A man in Florida had a picture framed and put on his wall showing nine naked little African boys with the words “Alligator Bait” written below.

To further buttress this account, on June 3, 1908, the ‘Washington Times’ reported that a zookeeper at the New York Zoological Gardens baited “Alligators with pickaninnies” out of their winter quarters. He sent two African slave children into an enclosure that was housing alligators and crocodiles numbering more than 25.

The reptiles had to be led out of their winter tanks into summer tanks so they could be seen by people. They didn’t find any other way to do this, other than placing these children in the tank to lure the alligators and crocodiles out. How artistic!!!

The article read that: Two small colored children happened to drift through the reptile house among the throng of visitors” and they were “pressed into service. The alligators “wobbled out as quick as they could after the ebony mites, who darted around the tank just as the pursuing monsters fell with grunts of chagrin into the water. The alligators were “coaxed” into their summer quarters by “plump little Africans.

There were sources who claimed that the mothers were paid $2 (Two Dollars) for their babies to be used as bait. They also claimed that the babies were not hurt. But those were just false accounts, to hide the heinous crimes. Which sane mother would allow her infant to be tied with a rope around the neck and kept by the river or lake banks as bait? No mother would do that. And at the time, African slaves could not read or write, so how did they read the adverts and apply, as some sources have claimed?

Such lies could be found in the September 21, 1923, headline of the ‘Oakland Tribune which read: “PICKANINNY BAIT LURES VORACIOUS ‘GATOR TO DEATH. And Mother Gets Her Baby Back in Perfect Condition; Also $2”.

It is indeed very callous for a person to risk a baby’s life in such manner, and then go ahead to justify it with charming words. In an article by T.W Villiers Chronicles the gator bait process was described thus: “these little black morsels are more than glad to be led to the ‘sacrifice’ and do their part in lurking the big Florida gators to their fate without suffering so much as a scratch.”

But on the contrary, oral accounts of this practice report that most times, the babies are eaten by the alligator, before the hunters shoot at it. The hunters would sometimes aim to kill the alligator only after the baby was in its jaws. Evidence of this is found in the postcards, pictures, and trinkets they made at the time to commemorate the practice.

There are other articles that claim that the African slave infants were not only regularly used as alligator bait but violently skinned alive in preparation for this. We believe the smell of the blood and wounded flesh was meant to attract the alligators.

There was an account by the grandson of a man who used to engage in this business of gator baiting, and this is what he had to say: “The slaves who had babies, they would steal the babies during the course of the day, sometimes when their mothers weren’t watching… Some would be infants; some would be a year old; he said some would be toddlers. He said they would grab these children and take them down to the swamp and leave them in pens like little chicken coops.

They would go down there at night, take these babies and… tie them up, put a rope around their neck and around their torso, around here, and tie it tight.

They’d be screaming… What they were doing would help them to chum the water. He said when they would throw the babies in tied to this rope, he said in a matter of minutes, he said, the alligators were on them. He said the alligator would clamp his jaws on that child. As a matter of fact, once he clamped on them, he was really swallowed. He said you couldn’t see anything but the rope! Some would be infants, some would be a year old, toddlers, some would be infants.”

Some of these evil and unimaginable practices by slave owners in America could also be found in the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia in Michigan, USA

“Shelved in the museum alongside the many stereotypical representations of “pickaninnies” (a racial slur applied to African-American youngsters) speaking fractured English, eating watermelon, catching opossums, etc., are similar cartoonish portrayals of black children (and sometimes black adults) as worthless “alligator bait,” according to accounts.

The practice of using African slave children as “alligator bait” could also be found in movies and popular music and the lullaby “Mammy’s Little Alligator Bait,” composed by Henry Wise and Sidney Perrin in the year 1899.

There is a deliberate attempt by those who carried out slavery to hide these parts of slave history. Not much is done by them to apologize and make reparations for these hideous crimes against humanity. Trying to deny this actually adds more grief to the descendants of the African slaves, being that their children are still killed in America today.

The world asks Africans in Diaspora to forget these things. They say “those who committed these crimes and their victims are long dead, so let the history die with them.” But they soon forget that the Jews still remember and talk about the Holocaust every year. Japan still remembers and commemorates the nuclear bombing a Hiroshima. So why should the African diaspora shut up about the crimes against them?  

Studies have shown that the legacy of the events of slavery, still affects the African American’s mental health. This is because trauma can be transferred from mother to child, and no one knows how many generations that psychological trauma can travel.

These accounts of painful history are meant to provide knowledge and also help the African Diaspora community in the tackling of these traumas.

We can forgive, but we must never forget.!!!


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Article Written By Chuka Nduneseokwu

94 COMMENTS

  1. This was so brutal.Did those Whites have a heart.l really feel a lot of pain and hate towards the White.

  2. Why should we forgive? Steal something to eat when you are hungry do you thing they will forgive.

  3. Oh, my heart is with those who can’t defend an enemy more powerful, more sophisticated than them and what I read here is gut wrenching.

  4. I NEVER heard of this and I will be 50 next month. I will most definitely share this as disturbing as it is.

  5. That’s why I can never trust them at all. We weren’t anything to them ever, nothing. DAMN GATOR BAIT

  6. The Arabs too more slaves from Africa than the west did. The black slaves in the Arab world suffered terrible horror. The men were castrated and the females turned to sex slaves, even when the get pregnant for their slave masters and give birth, their children are killed.

  7. I’m not here to defend the enslavement of Africans by Arabs but you claim that all the men were castrated and all the babies killed is factually incorrect. Yes racism exists in the Arab world but don’t distort the truth with sweeping statements.

  8. And today we kill millions of babies before they are born. And we do this legally. Some are aborted piece by piece. How sick is that?

  9. I have heard this charge many times and I’ve always had problems accepting it as fact. Simple economics forbids it. At No time in history has an alligator been more valuable to slave owners than slave children. . particularly during the slavery period when alligators were exceedingly abundant. Why would any slave owner risk a two or three hundred dollar slave child for a ten dollar alligator? Doesn’t make sense.

  10. The black Israelites are God’s chosen ones from the Bible and when its time they will bring the sons of Cain to their knees.

  11. How outrageously sickening! I feel nauseated at the raw hideousness of these hunters! Are they humans at all??? Who could ever forgive them?!?

  12. Capitalism is the root cause of all evils in the world . who has given the right to few to grab the all natural resources, being a child of nature everyone has equal right on natural resources.

  13. This is so interesting Wow! What a way Africans suffered in the past? These people must be exposed!

  14. Slavery was ended in the USA in 1863?

    Why are babies in this article referred to as “slave babies” for the events you claim happened in the “1900s”?

    Is this just a fantasy you concocted?

  15. When you read, please do your best to understand the transition in time and narratives. Different magazines and authors carried the stories around the 1900s. We never said they happened then. Crime can happen today, and then be uncovered or reported 50years from now. Does that mean the reporter is saying it happened then?

    Slavery was abolished in 1807, but slave merchant continued illegal runs to Africa for another 50years.

    Read!!!

  16. The article clearly states that the practice consisted of alligator hunters ‘stealing slave children.’ It doesn’t say slave owners had any hand in it. Reading comprehension fail.

  17. Oh no we should never forget this evil done against our race we shouldn’t wish it for no one and I’m sure I don’t want to spread hate. But I think the evil white man must pay for his deeds you can’t get away with so much evil doing and refusing to pay reperation to us blacks. They don’t realize how many blacks are walking around completly damadge in a trauma not knowing his place in life. It is not vengance that drives us but the desire of reparation put us back on the map of the human family.White man your so evil their is no vengance that could straight all your evil practices out. You did things not knowing the concequences of it. We are people. You did not know that..? Their are no excuses you can use. But time is running out on you. Repare the black people fairly and save your soul and those of your children.
    You did cruel things without thinking a bit. Shame on you

  18. Whether or not the gator bait stories are true, the images of black children in alligator infested waters was an image used in Florida tourism postcards into the early 60’s.

  19. This was really evil practice at it’s best. It should never happen again to any human kind.

  20. I like you and I am white. White people DO like you!!!

    Racist psychopaths still exist. They are terrifying. They do not represent me as a white person. I hate them, reject them, and so do the majority of people including whites- anyone in the world who has a heart.

    All humanity must resist fascism, racism, homophobia and all other forms of hate. I am DEEPLY ashamed of the history of my race and appalled by Trump’s courting of people who try to deny these heinous crimes or are racist (like he is) in other ways.

  21. You are something. I hate racists and psychopaths. I am white. I am deeply ashamed of the history of my race. I believe this is how the majority of white peoples everywhere feel. Racists are terrifying and I hate them.

  22. I despise these racists or anybody who tries to ignore these crimes, and I am white. Racist psychopaths do not represent me. We all anti-racists of every colour need to stand as allies against hate.

  23. Southern preachers twisted the Bible to justify treating Black slaves worse animals. Profiteers were all too happy to lap it up.

  24. I don’t believe this story for one second, this “author” keeps saying “sources” not one can be verified…such bullshit, this is another leftist attempt at division…

  25. Transition and narratives?…you kept saying “sources”…..I think you’re a damned liar and this article is nothing more than a fabricated lie….where are these documentaries, these oral histories and documents?…..this article is an outright frikin’ lie…you god damned lefties, will say or do anything to push your RACIST narrative….you’re scum…

  26. I feel remorse and sorrow for stories like these. Please let all this death not be in vain. Reparations will come in legislation, income equality, and by taking up war on poverty itself rather than the poor.

  27. “And at the time, African slaves could not read or right…”

    Wow, I see things really HAVEN’T changed. Thanks for opening my eyes!

  28. So…..
    What to do about that today?
    How many black infants are used as “gaitor bait” today?

    If the answer to that question is “none” your argument is void.

  29. Forgiveness is healing but they add salt to our wounds everyday.
    I was told of this horror some years ago.Some of the babies were stolen in the night time rope were tide around them.They then thrown in to the river.When the alligator bite into the child they could drag it in and kill it.W

  30. I can’t tell that a majority of white people feel like u do our people were hurt and treated unfairly and it’s still happening 2 this day some white people say they r ashame of what their race has done 2 our people but I’m willing 2 bet not 1 of u r willing 2 take the place of any African American in the past or here in the present u talk about how sorry u r but your not going 2 give up that white privilege u were born with

  31. You.. Are a disgusting, sickening piece of shit There are written documents, songs aswell as a Whole industry of postcards, pencils, drawings, figurines. In Florida in perticular.

  32. What purpose does this serve now? What is it going to change? There is no real purpose in bringing this up now! Yes. screwed up things happened, can you change it ….no. Is someone going to steal your baby and catch alligators now …NO, THEY ARE NOT!.
    WE DONT HAVE ENOUGH TO DEAL WITH? We don’t have enough pain? you have to add more/ Year after year, You don’t heal by constantly cutting the wound open. It just gets infected. We don’t need to know this !!! It does not help! We need to focus on our future and leave the past alone, we can’t change it. Keep pumping that poison into our brains, for what? It’s stupid and an excuse for failing now. I’m 64 and never heard of that. Now that I know, will it do anything for me, will it change anything NO it won’t? I still have to deal with life NOW!!! TODAY ….and anger will help nothing. We wast our time of the wrong things. History ain’t gonna help you, If it could, we would ‘nt be 400 years behind. cut that stuff loose and work on the future. Stop using the past, you never experienced, as a reason you can’t succeed today because some sick person hunted alligators with black babies????? So, therefore, you can’t get a university degree, because you are so traumatized! How about finding things that make us feel good,want to strive, find excellence in ourselves, instead of digging up this crap. Everyday…. finding all the messed up crap they did to us, in 1819 helps no one in 2019! Please stop!!!!

  33. That’s why you are still apart of the problem. How can you hate all whites based on the atrocities of people long deceased and dead? Hate them not all white people of this day and age… Hate perpetuates hate. And the saga continues. I am disgusted in all humanity.

  34. Is this the history of the mighty USA which condemns others for Human Rights Abuses? The USA needs to take the beam out of its own eyes before it can see to point an accusing finger at others, for, what an ATROCIOUS HISTORY of RACISM, DISCRIMINATION, DEGRADATION, OPPRESSION, EXPLOITATION it has of Black People on its territory? Look at how it treated the original inhabitants–THE RED INDIANS? Look at how its Ku Klux Klan (KKK) burned Black People at the stake, bombed their homes and churches, lighted their bodies, forcing them to flee in pain, until all the flesh melted from their bodies before theysuccumbed to death? Look at how they assassinated Brother Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jnr, and all the other Black Brothers? Look what they did to the Bla
    Panthers Brothers and Sisters, while not lifting a finger at terrorist KKK?When I read how the innocent Black children were used as bait for the crocodiles and alligators, the anger churned within me and my blood chilled to see that this occurred in the land of the free. What happened then, is still happening today against Black people, because this is the nature of the USA and its capitalist economic system which relies on cheap labour and the continued enslavement of the Black man, for, as long as capitalism exists, the Black Brothers and Sisters of the world will never be liberated, for you just cannot use an economic system which enslaved you to turn around and liberate you. Why was the Black Panthers destroyed, the Brothers and the Sisters imprisoned, but the KKK id untouched? Is it because Senators, Congressmen, Governors, Corporate Officials are a part of its membership?

  35. Sister Observer, Can you please describe how the Capitalism liberates, when it is the system which intoduced the enslavement of a whole race, degrading it, lynching it, burning it at the stake, raping its women and daughters and keeping them in perpetual degradation? What happened to those children who were placed in mines to work for free, so that the few could reap humongous profits and eat all the fruits of the land whilst the vast majority look up at them with cupped hands waiting like beggars for the crumbs which regrettably escape from their hands? Sister Observer, It is the 1917 Workers Revolution in Russia which brought the children out of the mines and placed them in schools where they rightfully belonged. Read about the Haymarlet Massacre which occurred in the Chicago USA May 4th, 1886. The Capitalist system will be glorified by you because you are an exploiter, you are heartless, feelingless and do not love your fellowmen.

  36. Brother Raven, this is why we will always be enslaved, for we do not wish to learn our history. The white man wants us to forget the atrocities he heaped upon us as a people? How come we cannot forget Christopher Columbus who is in the history books? How come we cannot forget Good Friday and Easter Monday and Christmas? Why do the Japanese remember August 1945 when the USA dropped two nuclear bombs on their country. I am much younger than you (82), and I did not know about these atrocities heaped upon my people: but knowing about it has fortitfied me with the knowledge of what my Black ancestors endured. This is our history Brother Raven and we should be proud to learn about it? I am Black and Proud of it. You seem to be black and ashamed of it? Wise up Black Brother, Wise Up!!

  37. Do not deviate from the main point here . Arabs did what they did too but the point here is why did American white evil do that?

  38. And they are the ones who came as missionaries. Hypocracy . The preach what they do not believe.
    God forgives that they will be forgiven

  39. What should blow all our minds is the fact that we would work – FIGHT! – to integrate with these people. We depend on them to feed ourselves (how many of you have a white boss??), we appeal to the “goodness of their hearts” to pass laws in our favor. We beg their police to stop killing us in the streets. All the while forgetting they fed our Black babies to alligators. In fact, in many ways some things havent changed.

    Back in the 60s, we debated as a collective whether we should separate or integrate. It looks like we made the wrong decision.

  40. Funny to me that the writer of this article was the website not to mention that there was no credible cited links which makes me believe that I mean it could be true but it also could be false I’m in college and when you write something you better set your sources

  41. So sick yet never talked about!! Same with the indigenous!! How the settlers are praised and yet the real history is never told!!

  42. Blaming an entire race of people for the actions of a few does not show we have grown at all, it is a HUGE step back towards segregation. If you want true Equality this kind of hate does not and should not be okay on any side no matter color. 100% no tolerance towards hating people due to race!! I am white and I have friends of all races from around the world!! White people killed my ancestors back in the Holocaust…I do not hate all white people or speak about them as if race mattered at all. Hate fuels hate and racism fuels racism. Be the bigger person! You cant hate on someone when you in fact are doing exactly the same thing!

  43. It really hurts me when I read about these suffering people went through. However, let us not be bitter against other races but learn how to be united as the black race because strength lies in unity. Let us come together and fight corruption and abuse of power by our own fellow black leaders. We should stop tribal, political differences and greed so that we can hold our leader accountable for development of our nations.
    We have all the resources but can not provide basic needs like water, electricity, road, etc
    for our people to harness their talents for development. Wake up Africa. Stop the Blame Game.

  44. It is wonderful to learn and know your history, but dont just look at the bits and pieces that white people did to black people. You have to look at all the heinous acts of cruelty done by black and white people to black people. Society as a whole can not progress if people live in the past. People can not control or change what their ancestors have done. We learn from the mistakes and sins of the past to better ourselves.

  45. You went totally off topic with your comment about President Trump. But, since you actually went there, what documentation do you have that President Trump is a racist?

  46. Thank you for this comment. We have to learn from the past and make the world a better place for all of our children.

  47. The plot thickens and the denialists and their comments, at the end of this here article, are as sickening as this vile chapter in the history of “the land of the free”.

  48. You can’t forget history, but you have to get the hell over it and move on. Y’all live in the past too much, none of you were there.

  49. The religion that says forgive your enemies was build by your enemies,so the whole thing about Christianity its a hoax,all of them are bad people,i have never seen a single one an average being all of them have the same heart of killing,raping and robbing.

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