This essay will summarize and reflect upon 5 individuals who were born into, and grew up in the United States of America under slavery. Lucinda Davis, Charity Anderson, Walter Calloway, Fountain Hughes and Richard Toley each have a compelling story to tell about the time when black Americans were not looked at as citizens and were not free to make decisions that were afforded to white Americans. Although their stories are brief and do not reflect all of the daily hardships that were faced by slaves during that time in our Nation’s history, they are, nonetheless, powerful in their message. Fearing above all else a beating that would result from a perceived act of disrespect, the fact that each of these individuals survived is an example of the human spirits desire to survive in the direst of situations and the ability to overcome insurmountable odds.
Charity Anderson was born into slavery in Monroe County, Alabama sometime in the 1830’s. (Rawick) She was the property of Mr. Leslie Johnson and worked as a housemaid, nanny and seamstress. Her story is one of the happier tales as Mrs. Anderson believed she had a good life back then and was not accustomed to violence in that household. The children were permitted to be in the main house and seemed to be almost considered family. It is odd to get a sense that Mrs. Anderson felt that life was better back then during a time where people worked hard and were more respectful to one another. He experience indicates a life far from the typical image of slavery.
In contrast to Charity Anderson’s life as a slave, Lucinda Davis describes her days as a farm slave of a Creek Indian master. Although she also describes her story as one of relative safety, she does illustrate the, “drunk dance,” where things would get out of control and the men would chase, beat, mutilate and dismember others including the women. (Rawick)
For a male perspective, Walter Calloway grew up on a plantation near Montgomery, Alabama and took on the surname of his owner, John Calloway. Walter work in the fields from a young age and often witnessed a black overseer punishing other slaves by whipping and lashing on behalf of the plantation owner. Mr. Calloway, similar to Charity Anderson, indicates a real respect for his master in that he was treated fairly, fed well and allowed to pray back in the bushes even though the work was hard and punishment was not uncommon. It seems to be a running theme that most of these narratives signify a mutual respect for their owners for not being worse than they could have been to the slaves. (Rawick)
This sentiment is eluded by Richard Toler when he talks of not ever being mistreated by his master and even going so far as to tell his overseers that, “ if they whipped him, he’d kill ‘em.” (Rawick) This was apparently not the norm for the rest of the slaves on this farm near Lynchburg, Virginia. Mr. Toler talks a great deal about other slaves being beaten and brutally tortured and abused. ...