African American slavery was used to grow economies in the North and South before the Civil War. Although the North and South had different styles of slavery, they still had an owner/slave relationship that remained demeaning when a person owns a person. Narratives of interviews with Charlie Smith and Fountain Hughes are discussed as the slaves share their memories of their life as a slave.
Charlie Smith was an African American slave who was born in Galina, Africa and was shipped to America as a young boy. He was raised by a man also named “Charlie Smith,” but he is referenced as Jake later in the interview. Smith addressed his owner as “Old Man Charlie” in his stories. Since Charlie and his owner had the same name, possibly this was an easy way to differentiate between owner and slave. Charlie’s given name by his mother was Mitchell Watkins. In 1975, Charlie indicated he was 144 years old and his birthday was July 4th.
Charlie’s journey to America was not a pleasant voyage and was full of deceitfulness. First, he was coaxed into the vessel with promises of an easy life. If he did not want to work, then he did not have to work. Second, the vessel was abundant with fritter (pancake) “trees” to avoid any fear of hunger. Third, the lower deck of the vessel contained the syrup trees to smother the fritters with sweetness. As the slaves entered the lower decks to locate the syrup and fritters, they then realized they were moving. When the vessel docked, they were in New Orleans and headed for the block to be sold to the highest bidder. Charlie was fortunate that he even arrived in New Orleans. He had received multiple threats to be thrown overboard by other colored folk...
... middle of paper ...
...counts of events that transpired during the Civil War and how it affected slavery. Fountain mentions being treated somewhat like a dog while Charlie states his owner treated him as a white person.
These narratives provide a glimpse of slavery from the perspectives of two elderly slaves. The demeanor in their voices on the audio version tells a story that will pull at the heartstrings of those listening. While several of the statements may be hard to believe, only Charlie and Fountain know in their souls what happened many years ago during their captivity.
Norwood, Herman. "Voices From the Days of Slavery." Interview with Fountain Hughes,
Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 1949. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.
Sparks, Elmer. "Voices From the Days of Slavery." American Memory from the Library
of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.
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