Master Stevens is the enslaver of Addy Walker and her family before their freedom.
Personality and Facts
Master Stevens is an enslaver from North Carolina. Along with the Walkers and the Morgans, there are other unnamed enslaved people on his tobacco and cotton plantation for approximately twenty-two people. The Stevens' plantation is located roughly twenty miles north of Raleigh, North Carolina. He and his unseen wife and family live in the big house.
Addy despises Master Stevens; she sees him as cruel, uncaring, mean, hateful, and intimidating and believes he hates her and other black people. Ruth says he is a mean man who doesn't care that he hurts the people he enslaves, and Ben says that while Master Stevens often acted as if he cared for his slaves, ultimately he didn't truly think of them as people or like them and more thought of them the same way he thought of his hounds--as his property.
Due to the events of the Civil War, Master Stevens is suffering financially. This makes Ben nervous about him selling more and more enslaved people off of the plantation including the possibility of breaking up the Walker family, which he ultimately does.
While he is not seen outside of Meet Addy, his effect on the lives of Addy and her family is seen through the series.
In The Books
Meet Addy: An American Girl
Master Stevens is spoken about before he is seen, while Addy is feigning sleep and her parents are talking. Ruth believes that Master Stevens won't sell her or her family since she serves as the plantation seamstress and Ben is a carpenter. Ben reminds her about how Sam has displeased him and is surly about working. Addy remembers how Sam ran away shortly before Esther was born; Master Stevens used dogs to track him down and, when he was returned, whipped Sam in punishment.
Addy serves him and another enslaver the midday dinner meal one afternoon, sent in by Auntie Lula. While she's standing in the corner of the dining room, she purposefully eavesdrops on their conversation. Master Stevens says he has all his enslaved people--like Addy--trained good, which is why it's a shame to let any of them go. But with the way the war is going, he needs the money and it would be hard to feed and clothe twenty-two slaves on the plantation through the winter. The other man asks how he can be sure that the "boy" he's buying won't run away again, and Master Stevens lets him know that not only did he teach him a lesson with the whip but he'll also be selling his "father" as well and he can control him. Addy quickly realizes Master Stevens is speaking about Poppa and Sam. When the other man touches her on the head while she is pouring more water and discusses buying her as well, she is frightened but must keep her face blank; Master Stevens says that he's not looking to sell her though the price of good house servants is going up and maybe when she's older he'll let her go, once she'll fetch as good a price as her brother; she's too young now. When Addy overfills the glass she is pouring into, Master Stevens again points out she's too young and snaps at her to get a rag to clean up the mess, leaving Addy to run to the kitchen and tell Auntie Lula what is happening in an attempt to warn Sam and Poppa.
When Addy runs to the barn after hearing that Master Stevens and the man may have Sam and Poppa there, she sees Sam bound and shackled in the cart along with Mater Stevens, the other man, and two other large white men. Addy begs Master Stevens not to let Sam be sold and Master Stevens, holding a whip, tells her to get out of here--followed by Ben doing the same from where he is laying on the ground being chained up by the overseer. When she clings to Ben, Master Stevens hits her with the whip, tells her to get again, and finally pulls her away from Ben.
Auntie Lula informs the family after her return in Philadelphia that by the end of the war, so many enslaved people had run away every day from both the Stevens (as well as the nearby Gifford plantation) that Master Stevens couldn't try to catch them all. When the only people left were old folks that couldn't run away and there was no one left to plant tobacco or cotton--meaning there was no way to earn money--Master Stevens abandoned the plantation altogether, even before the war was announced as over.
In the play, Master Stevens is given a wife, Missus Stevens (played by the same multi-character actress that plays Mrs. Ford and Miss Caroline). To minimize extra roles, it is the two of them who talk over lunch about selling Ben and Sam; furthermore, it is not the overseer who forces Addy to eat the worms she misses but Master Stevens himself. He is not seen again once Addy and Momma run away.
In the Seattle production he was played by Peter Cook and Bradford Farwell, who also play additional roles as well.
- Mentioned in later books.
- A New Beginning: My Journey with Addy, pg 129.